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Catherine Mack is one of the fine preachers in Charleston, S.C. Lend an ear and hear what the spirit says.



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Chapter 1: 6, 7

1:6-7: "Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.

This text focuses on five messages given to the prophet Haggai as Israel enjoyed life after exile.

The Jews had been in captivity for many years in Babylon. During that time that had wept, mourned and prayed that God would deliver them from their exile. Daily they watched and prayed for Jerusalem and yearned to see its walls. Daniel opened his windows facing Jerusalem and prayed. The Three Hebrew Boys refused to abandon their culture and identities and were thrown unsuccessfully into the fiery furnace. In all of their troubles the Jews never stopped hoping and praying that they would one day return from their exile.

While they managed to maintain their faith in God and some semblance of their culture while they were in Babylon, their formal worship life disappeared. Their weekly routines of attending the Saturday meetings at the synagogue and studying the Torah, paying their tithe and making their sacrifices was abandoned.

This text, penned about 16 years after Cyrus decreed that Jews could return to Jerusalem from the Exile and take, money, and materials to rebuild their temple (Ezra 1:1-5). The returning exiles made it to Jerusalem, but once there spent their time building a life for themselves. Even though God had blessed them for a purpose, they ignored the purpose of their return and paid attention to their own growth and prosperity and ignored their original purpose.

They built themselves fine homes with ceiled roofs. They planted themselves fine crops and prospered. They made and bought for themselves fine clothing. Those who labored made an enviable wage. In retrospect, the Jews were living better than they had ever lived before. They had more, ate more, drank more, looked better and were generally in better shape than they had ever been.

In the midst of their of their prosperity God raised up the prophet Haggai, who must have come as an unpopular presence. Haggai was given five messages to give the Jews from God. They were short and to the point, but all said basically the same thing "Consider your ways." The five messages were:

1)Haggai 1:1-11: The people are living good but they have forgotten their commitment to the House of God. Their charge was to renovate the temple, then to maintain it with tithes and offerings as they worshipped sang and gave sacrifices. Instead the people indulged themselves. Therefore, God said as long as his temple stood in need, they would begin to have holes in their pockets or "bags." (v6). They were sternly warned to give their decision not to obey God serious consideration.

2)Haggai 1:12-15: About 24 days after Haggai's first message the leaders of the kingdom responded by deciding to obey God (v12). In response the Lord sent them word that I am with you (v13). When the leaders decided to obey God, then he stirred up the spirit of all of the remnant of the people and they all decided to work, restore and maintain the House of the Lord. (v14).

3)Haggai 2:1-9: About four years later as the work progressed, God sent the people a word of hope. To the leaders he said "Be strong." To the high priests he said, "Be strong." To the people he said "I am with you." (2:4). He reminded them not to be intimidated by the apparent lack of resources because "The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts." He promised that the work they undertook would excel any work done in the past.

4-5)Haggai 2:10-23: The people were reminded that when they cheating God, refusing to support the temple building and carry out their purpose, every work of their hands was unclean in his sight (2:14). He responded by sending each person various signs, mildew, hail, and other hard times, yet the people did not respond. However, Haggai said if they would make a committment to God to respond beginning that very day "from this day, I will bless you." (v18) Even Zerubbabel himself was promised that he would be an example of what God can do because God would make him a "signet" for all the world to see (v23)

The essence of the entire book of Haggai is that those who lead the people were commanded to lead the masses away from selfish motives toward the renovation and maintenance of the temple, otherwise their prosperity would be cursed with "holes in their pockets."

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