Haggai 1:1-2:23, Revelation 11:1-19, Psalms 139:1-24, Proverbs 30:15-16
Today is the 20th day of December. Welcome to the Daily Audio Bible. I am Brian and it’s fantastic to be here with you today, taking the next step forward toward the end of this week, towards Christmas, which is just around the corner and eventually toward the end of this year, which is right upon us in the conclusion of our journey this year through the entire Bible. So, as we enter into our reading today we are following the tradition that seems to happen at the end of the year. We’re moving through books rapidly and I we have a brand-new book today that we’ll read in its entirety, the book of Haggai, which is the 10th of the 12 books known as the minor prophets.
Introduction to the book of Haggai:
And like so many of the authors of the minor prophets, we don’t we don’t know much that could give us a biographical sketch of Haggai. We know that he was among those living in Jerusalem who had returned from the Babylonian exile. He was probably one of the first waves of the exiles to return. We also know that he had access to people who were in power because the opening verse indicates that his message was delivered to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah. And we certainly learned Zerubbabel’s story in the book of Ezra and Nehemiah, but also Joshua, the high priest, is mentioned in Haggai. So, he had access to the to those who were in power and who can make decisions. And Haggai’s message was largely motivational, but for us to understand why we need a very short timeline, which happens to be a review of the territory we’ve covered. So, Babylon conquered Jerusalem as we know and lead her people into exile and this happened around 586 B.C. And then Babylon was conquered by the Persian Empire in 539 B.C. And it was the Persian king Cyrus that allowed the first of the exiles to come back to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel’s leadership and this was around 538 B.C. So, Haggai’s message came 18 years after that in 520 B.C. In fact, Haggai’s prophecies are some of the most precisely dated utterances in the whole Bible because the dates are contained in the book and they run between August 29th and December 18th 520 B.C. And, so, during the 18 years that the exiles had been coming back, the temple remained incomplete and there was political opposition and intimidation that was coming in from the surrounding peoples, and these had kind of stalled things out as it relates to the temple, but the people were building their own houses and rebuilding their own lives without the temple as the centerpiece, which had traditionally been the identity of the people. So, through the prophet Haggai, God voiced His displeasure at this. “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins” He asks. And then God revealed that there were repercussions whether they realized what they were doing or not, that since their return they had worked hard and toiled and attempted to rebuild but that had been thwarted all along the way and their crops had yielded their intended yield because they’d become self-absorbed and left God’s temple neglected and they needed to change their priorities and get busy because God had future plans of judgment. So, God commanded them, go up into the hills, bring down timber, rebuild my house and then I’ll take pleasure in it and be honored. So, according to Haggai, construction started again September 21st, 520 B.C. and less than a month later, on October 17th of the same year God spoke again and He basically said, you know, does anybody remember what the temple used to be like? And now that you can look at what you’re rebuilding you can see that it’s nothing like that in terms of its splendor. But God encouraged the leaders to be strong, to keep going, and not be afraid. And, so, obviously God wanted to restore the temple. It was the central thing that represented covenantal life in the community of God’s people. But God had specific plans for the work and he wanted no more delay because, actually, the people had been working their butt off, right? They’d been working to rebuild a life and a country but they had been thwarted at every turn, even with the weather when what God had intended was that the Temple be rebuilt, reassert itself as the centerpiece of covenantal life, and then God would draw the riches from the surrounding nations into the temple and back into the land. In other words, if they had put God first their toll hill would’ve been more fruitful, which is a lesson every one of us can at least be reminded of often. And, so, with that we begin. We’re reading from the New Living Translation this week. Haggai, chapter 1 verse 1 through 2:23
Father, we thank you for your word, we thank you for the message in the prophet Haggai that essentially tells us, seek you first, then all these things will be added unto us. And we thank you for this reminder in this season, not only in this season of commercialism and giving but also as we come to the close of the year. One of the ways that we will begin the new year strong is to finish this one well. And, so, we thank you for these reminders every step of the way. We thank you for what you’ve reminded us of in Proverbs, that there are four things never say enough. And, yeah, we can say the grave and the barren womb and the thirsty desert and the blazing fire for sure, but it is our desire that another be added to that list, that our longing for you, that we would never be able to say enough, that we would never be satisfied, that our lives would hunger and thirst for your righteousness all of our days because that is not only how we will finish a year strong and begin a new one well, it is how we will survive and navigate in this world. So, come Holy Spirit and lead us forward into all truth we ask in the mighty name of Jesus as we hunger and thirst after you. Come Holy Spirit we pray. Amen.
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And that’s it for today I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.