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Theme: First things first

Leading question: To what extent should we take the initiative to do something instead of waiting for the Lord to do it for us or to prompt us to action?

Haggai and Zechariah move us down to the third crisis era where the “Minor Prophets” carry out their ministry. The exiles had returned to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel in 536 and had laid the foundation of the temple almost immediately. The story of that early surge of holy energy is told in Ezra 3:10-13. Those who had never seen a temple rejoiced, but those who remembered the old one, wept.

But the enemies came and discouraged the people. So they quit working – for close to 15 years. Not until the 2nd year of Darius, do Haggai and Zechariah speak up to spur the people into action.

  1. Sorrowing for the old, rejoicing in the new. When the exiles returned home, they began laying the foundation for the new temple almost immediately. Read Ezra 3 and explore the contrasting emotions of those who could only remember the past glory and those who saw new possibilities because they had never known the old. What might that tell us today in our work for God and the church?
  2. Moving ahead or waiting for the Lord. In 536, some 15 years after their enemies had discouraged the returned exiles from building the temple, two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, emerged to spur the people to action. With the support of the emperor, Darius, they went to work and finished building the temple by 515. The question for our day: Does the Lord wait for us to work, or will he take steps to spur us to action? Does he use positive motivation or negative or a mix of both?
  3. Piety and Prosperity. What does Haggai 1:3-11 tell us about the link between religious devotion and prosperity? In what sense could that still be true if God no longer calls a specific nation or people to be His own, but focuses on individual salvation?
  4. A Messianic hope? Haggai 2:23 seems to suggest that Zerubbabel may have been a messianic hope in his day. Could Haggai’s affirmation possibly be like Nathan’s affirmation to David to build the temple, but then had to backtrack? (2 Samuel 7)

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