Talks for Growing Christians
The Priorities of Judah
Lesson Number 1
- A believer’s first priority should not be dwelling in paneled houses.
- A believer’s first priority should be doing the work of the Lord.
- Don’t put your money into a bag with holes.
- Haggai was a minor prophet. Does this mean he was less spiritual or less inspired than the major prophets?
- Haggai is a post-exhilic prophet. What does this mean?
- Who destroyed the magnificent temple of Solomon and took the Jews captive to Babylon?
- How does Cyrus, the Persian Emperor, fit into this picture?
- What good thing did the people do when they returned to their homeland?
- Why and for how long was the rebuilding of the temple delayed?
- Why did Haggai preach his series of fiery sermons?
- What other prophet did the Lord raise up at this time?
- Not at all. It means simply that he wrote a short book.
- It means that he prophesied after the seventy-year captivity (exile) of the Jews in Babylon.
- In 586 B.C., King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians conquered the kindom of Judah. They destroyed Solomon’s temple and took the Jews captive to Babylon.
- In 539 B.C., Babylon fell to the Persians. In 538 B.C., Cyrus issued a decreed allowing the Jews to return to their homeland and even to rebuild their temple. About 50,000 Jews returned under Zerubbabel’s leadership.
- They rebuilt the altar for sacrifice and laid the foundation for the temple.
- Opposition and threats from the surrounding Persian provinces caused fear and discouragement. The work was delayed for about fifteen years. Meanwhile, the people lost interest in rebuilding the temple and become more interested in rebuilding and beautifying their own houses.
- To motivate the Jews to re-order their priorites and finish the temple.
- Read Haggai 1:3-4. The point of the question Haggai posed to the people was not the matter of paneling, but a matter of priorities. The Lord would say the same to us today. Are you more concerned with beautifying your house than seeing the work of the Lord move ahead? What are your priorities? Where is your heart? “...for where your treasure it, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
- Read Haggai 1:7-8. The Lord does not say that believers should not have nice houses, but that their priorites need to be in order. When beautiful houses and materialism take precedence over the work of the Lord, a believer needs to take a hard look at his priorities. How involved are you in serving the Lord?
- Do you ever feel like you are putting your money into a bag with holes? Look at the big picture to determine your priorities. See 1 John 2:17. Is the Lord pleased with your priorities?
- “Is it time for you to dwell in your paneled houses, and the Lord’s temple to lie in ruins?” Haggai 1:4
- “Consider your ways!” Haggai 1:5,7
- “You sow much, and bring in little... he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” Haggai 1:6
- “‘...build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,’ says the Lord.” Haggai 1:8