Friday, June 6, 2014

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 8, 2014

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BUILD THE FUTURE
(Hold strong to the LORD in your obedience)
(Haggai 1:12-2:9)

In the biblical Greek the word used for “longsuffering” is “makrothumia”. It is a word that describes a spirit that never grows irritated, never despairs, and never regards anyone as being beyond salvation. The only wise GOD, our SAVIOR through JESUS CHRIST, exists in that spirit continuously. I know that’s the case, because, if HE didn’t, HE would have destroyed mankind a long time ago. GOD wants us, as a human race, to exhibit that same kind of spirit and attitude towards each other, because if we don’t, eventually, we will destroy ourselves.
The destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. marked the end of an era in Jewish national and religious life. In Babylon, the Jews were without a temple, or an official place to worship and sacrifice to GOD. And even though they could still direct their prayers toward Jerusalem while in Babylon (1 Kings 8:48 & Daniel 6:10), it was only because of GOD’s stirring of the hearts of the Persian kings, Cyrus and Darius, that this remnant of some 50.000 Jews were able to return to Jerusalem where David had first opened up the worship center hundreds of years earlier.
“The GOD of another chance”, despite our failures, disappointments, and ignorance toward HIM twenty four hours a day, remains with us faithfully. HE constantly overlooks our failures and disobedience in the spirit of makrothumia, and for our part, we must be able to view our sins as “heartbreaking” to ourselves, and, to GOD. We must be able to repent, humble ourselves, and then gain a strong desire and compunction, not to re-visit those same old trespasses again.
In Haggai chapter 1, less than twenty years after the Jewish exiles had begun to return to their homeland, they had already begun to re-develop their rebellious, selfish and disobedient ways toward GOD, and each other. They had abandoned the work on the temple and were moving full speed ahead toward their own selfish, personal agendas. Sure! They were building for the future, as we are all supposed to do, however they were building for a future that did not include GOD.
In verse 13, after hearing the message from the LORD, that was delivered by the prophet Haggai, Zerubbabel, Jeshua, and all the people of Judah obeyed the LORD and began to worship HIM earnestly and enthusiastically, and they began to work on the House of the LORD again, in the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.
One month later (Haggai chapter 2), the LORD sent another message by Haggai asking the leaders and the people if anyone was able to remember what the old temple looked like, and, to compare it to the way that it currently looked. No doubt the people were somewhat discouraged by the enormity of the task that GOD had laid before them, and they were starting to doubt that they could fulfill their commitment to the LORD in this matter. Nevertheless, GOD, through Haggai, urged the Israelites to take courage and complete the work on the temple, and HE HIMSELF would remain with them until the work was complete (Vs.4-5). Here is that message:

“For this is what the LORD Almighty says: In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth. I will shake the oceans and the dry land too. I will shake the nations, and the treasures of all the nations will come to this temple. I will fill this place with glory, says the LORD Almighty. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says the LORD Almighty. The future glory of the temple will be greater than its past glory, says the LORD Almighty. And in this place I will bring peace. I, the LORD Almighty have spoken” - Haggai 2:6-9 (NLT)

In verse 6 we find the only verse in the book of Haggai that is quoted in the New Testament (Hebrews 12:26). There it is stated in relation to the end times, or is an eschatological reference to the “end of the world” when GOD will introduce a cosmic earthquake that will destroy every human society, and call all mankind to judgment.
The words, “in a little while”, does not suggest literal immediacy, but rather, it speaks of an impending, imminent action that GOD could, at any time take, at HIS OWN discretion. We must keep in mind that “all eternity” is like “a little while” to our eternal GOD, and HE has all the time in the world to orchestrate HIS plan.
This message delivered by Haggai to the Israelites in biblical times is something that also applies to us in this day and age because it is an “eschatological prophecy” and has not yet come to pass. And so it is very relevant in this, “The Church Age” that we heed this warning. It tells us that after GOD clears the present-day Christian Church of all of the “profane things” (satan’s offerings) that modern-day pastors and leaders have incorporated into it with their human ingenuity, GOD says, HIS glory will return to it. Then, the “desired things” (“hemdat” in the Hebrew – “precious things”) will once again be offered up to the LORD GOD Almighty in HIS “Church House” from all the nations in the world. Absolutely every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess, that JESUS CHRIST is LORD, in the end!

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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