Friday, May 30, 2014

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 1, 2014

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(First things first)
(Haggai 1:1-11)

The prophet Haggai was the first of three post-exilic prophets and a contemporary of the prophet Zechariah. He was sent by GOD to preach to the restored Israelite community that was established after the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland. He delivers a total of five prophesies during the first two years of the reign of the Persian king, Darius. His carefully dated sermons are focused on a four-month period in the year 520 B.C.
Haggai’s brief messages have nothing in common with the pre-exilic prophets who GOD used to warn Israel prior to the Babylonian invasions that culminated in the destruction of Judah in 586 B.C., in fact, he says nothing of injustice, idolatry, or violence at all. Instead, he is sent by GOD to simply encourage and urge the people to complete the work on the temple, and to put HIM first in their lives by celebrating and worshiping HIS holy name in that temple, which would be HIS house.
In Haggai chapter 1, the prophet delivers his first message from GOD to Zerubbabel, the appointed governor of Judah, and Jeshua, the high priest of Judah, saying;

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while MY house lies in ruin? Consider how things are going for you! You have planted much but harvested little. You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up. You have wine to drink, but not enough to satisfy your thirst. You have clothing to wear, but not enough to keep you warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Consider how things are going for you! Now go up to the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild MY house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the LORD. You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it all away. Why? Because MY house lies in ruins, says the LORD Almighty, while you are all busy building your own fine houses. That is why the heavens have withheld the dew and the earth has withheld its crops. I have called for a drought on your fields and hills, a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olives and all your other crops, a drought to starve both you and your cattle and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get”.

When we become too pre-occupied with our own worldly desires and affairs, then, in the eyes of the LORD, we have indeed become too pre-occupied. It is significant in this passage that Judah’s two most influential leaders at that time, Zerubbabel and Jeshua, responded so quickly and positively to Haggai’s message. Whenever leaders respond quickly and positively to GOD, it becomes much easier for the Christian community to follow up, and thus, maximize the blessings that a faithful GOD holds for us for being obedient.
In the short time the people of Judah had been back in their homeland, they had already become too busy with their own personal agenda to consider the will of GOD, and the impact that GOD has on their everyday lives. Instead of investing a portion of their time, talents, and treasures into building up the kingdom of GOD here on earth (HIS temple), they were too busy investing in their own personal agendas.
When we have to borrow money from luciferic lenders in order to build our Christian Churches, we’ve already put ourselves at the mercy of satan. That is why today’s churches look so much like the world that they should be trying to convert. It is, in effect, because they are being built by satan himself, literally.
 We must begin to build our churches (the physical edifices) by first, considering and then following the advice of JESUS who says, in effect, that, “Only a fool would begin to build a building before he has enough money to totally finish the project” “(Luke 14:28-29). Don’t borrow money to build Christian churches, because the rule of GOD still applies, “The borrower is slave to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).
If GOD is not a part of our personal agenda, eventually, HE is going to show us what life without HIM is all about. The harder we try to work without GOD, the farther behind we get. We develop holes in our pockets and are unable to progress for any significant amount of time. GOD is the ONE WHO makes all of our efforts bear fruit, however, we must put HIM first and keep HIM first at all times.
GOD’s involvement in the life of HIS people and HIS desire that we take spiritual matters seriously is the basic motif of the book of Haggai. The people had stopped work on the temple for over twenty years, turning instead to their own personal agenda, much like we’ve done today. GOD wants us to put HIM first, and to realize and understand that a place for HIS worship must be provided for the good of the whole nation. Stay tuned.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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