Wednesday, December 20, 2017

December 20: Haggai 1 – 2; Psalm 139; Proverbs 30:15-16; Revelation 11



Overview

            Haggai: The Lord spoke to Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the priest through Haggai during the second year of Darius the king (of Media and Persia). The people say it isn’t the time to build the temple, but the Lord asks them if it is time for everyone to have fancy houses while the temple is in ruins. He tells them to look at what is happening. They sow a lot but harvest little. They never have enough to eat or drink or cloths to stay warm. Their money never lasts.
            Therefore, go and get wood to rebuild the temple so the Lord may be glorified. Their austerity is because the temple is still in ruins while each person pays more attention to their own desires than the Lord’s. Their lack is caused by God withholding rain, grain, wine, and oil.
            Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people obeyed the Lord given by Haggai and feared the Lord. Then the Lord told the people he was with them. He stirred up their spirit and they started working on the temple on the sixth month, 24th day of the 2nd year of Darius.
            A month later, the word of the Lord came. The Lord asked who among the remnant saw the temple in its previous glory. The new one looks puny in comparison, but Zerubbabel and Joshua are to be strong along with the people. They are to continue the work because the Lord is with them. His Spirit is among them and in the future, he will shake the heavens, earth, and the nations. The future glory of the temple will be more than the past. He will give them peace.
            Two months after that, the Lord spoke through Haggai. Haggai was to ask the priest if something becomes holy by touching a holy thing and they answered that it doesn’t. He then asked if something becomes unclean when it touches something unclean and they answered that it does. So, everything the unclean people touched became unclean and that is why they were always lacking grain and wine. But now that the foundation of the temple has been laid, the Lord will bless them.
            The Lord spoke again to Haggai on that day. He then told Zerubbabel that he was going to shake everything and overthrow kings. When that happens, Zerubbabel will be like a signet ring because the Lord chose him.
            Psalm: David declares the attributes of God. He is omniscient in knowing our actions and even our thoughts before we say or do anything. He is sovereign in all our plans. It is awesome, but we can’t really understand this.
            He is omnipresent and is with us no matter where we go. He is always with us in the light or in the dark because he sees all.
            He is our creator on a personal level. He has made us exactly the way he wants. His plan for our lives is already determined even before he made us.
            It is awesome to ponder that God is always thinking about us. We go to sleep, but he keeps he is still thinking about us when we wake.
            David then wants the Lord to wipe out the wicked and keep them away from him. They are physically and verbally nasty. He hates those who hate God and considers them his enemies.
            David then asks God to search him to see if there is anything wrong in him and then lead him in the everlasting way.
            Proverbs: Leeches only have two things in mind and that is to suck blood and suck some more. Likewise, hell, a childless woman, desert land, and fire never have enough.
            Revelation: John was given a measuring rod and told to measure the temple. He was not to measure the outer court because the nations would occupy the holy city for 42 months. During that time, God’s two witness would prophecy in sackcloth.
            The two witnesses are the two olive trees and two lampstands that stand before the Lord. They will kill with fire from their mouths anyone who tries to harm them. They have power to cause drought, turn water to blood, cause plagues whenever they want. Once their task is complete, the beast from the bottomless pit will kill them. Their bodies will be exposed in Jerusalem for 3 ½ days. Some people from everywhere in the world will see them and keep them for being buried. The world will rejoice at their death because of their torment.
            At the end of the 3 ½ days, God will bring them to life and they will stand up. All who see them will be greatly afraid. They will hear a voice calling them to heaven and they will ascend as people watch. There will be a great earthquake destroying a tenth of the city and killing 7,000. The survivors will glorify God.
            This is the end of the second woe. The third woe is next.
            The seventh angel blew his trumpet and voices in heaven shouted that the kingdom of the world now belongs to the Lord and Jesus who will reign forever. The 24 elders fell down to worship. They gave thanks the Lord because he is taking his power and starting to reign. Though the nations raged, God’s anger came and it is time to judge the dead and reward all who fear the Lord’s name. Those who destroy the earth will be destroyed.
            God’s temple in heaven opened up and John could see the ark of his covenant. There was also lightning, thunder, an earthquake, and hail.

What Stood Out

            Haggai: “I am about to shake the heavens and the earth … On that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts” (Hag 2:21, 23).
            Psalm: “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Ps 139:14).
            Proverbs: “The leech has two daughters; ‘Give’ and ‘Give,’ they cry” (Prov 30:15).
            Revelation: “For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb” (Rev 11:9).

Insight

            Haggai: When the exiles returned from Babylon, they were generally poor and struggled to make ends meet. They were more concerned with their daily life and getting their houses looking good than they were with reestablishing the temple. The work on the temple had been stopped by a decree by Artaxerxes (Ezra 4:23) but they didn’t do anything to try to get it going again. The Lord chastised them for looking after their own perceived needs instead of going forward with what had been decreed earlier by king Cyrus (Ezra 1:2). The Lord told them that he was withholding the good that could come to them because of their disobedience.
            One of the illustrations the Lord used was from the Law regarding what touched what and what would become holy or unclean because of what it touched. He accused the people of polluting their income from the land by their disobedience. It is a general principle that applies to us today.
            When we are more focused on getting our wants than on being obedient to the Lord, we will suffer loss. We may complain that this doesn’t seem to apply to unbelievers, but we have to remember that their payback will not occur until eternity. We may complain that we aren’t under the Law so we don’t need to be obedient in tithing. That is true, but then again, we shouldn’t give out of compulsion to fulfill a legal requirement but because we are thankful for our salvation and for our love for the Lord. When we do that, we should want to do more than the Law. When we ignore the Lord so we can indulge ourselves, we will suffer loss. if not here, then in heaven.
            We must remember that everything will be shaken in the future. Our temporary homes will vanish or we will leave them for eternity one way or another. We should consider what the Lord told Zerubbabel, he would be like a signet ring when that happens. Did it ever happen to Zerubbabel? No, but from him came our Lord Jesus. We don’t know the future or what blessings we will have in heaven, but when we focus on eternity and become obedient to the Lord, we will be blessed.
            Psalm: Psalm 139 presents us with some very wonderful truths about our awesome God. His omniscience and omnipresence are clearly described and his omnipotence is surmised. But there is one thing that I noticed while reading this time and that is our own internal knowledge of God. While I’m one to admit that our awareness of God is severely damaged by the fall, yet in each of us there is an awareness of God. David expressed it when he said that “his soul knows it well” (Ps 139:14). He was taking about God making him in his mother’s womb, but it applies to much more than this. It applies to everything in this Psalm.
            I need to take short detour and remind us that we sometimes forfeit these insights into God’s word when we don’t check other translations or even look up the original Greek or Hebrew. Translations that are less literal will say, “I know that full well” (NIV) or similar words leaving out that this knowledge is in our souls and is built into us.
            While this is built into us, many will do what they can to deny it. They are the ones that David condemns at the end. The result of denying what God has placed in our souls is becoming his enemies, murders, and wicked. Paul reminds us that we don’t have an excuse for refusing to understand who God is because it is evident in all that surrounds us in nature (Rom 1:20). When we deny him, we fall into the downward spiral of sin that is described in the following verses of Romans 1. We have a choice and that is to submit our souls, our hearts to the Lord and have him search us and lead us to Jesus and in his everlasting ways (Ps 139:23-24), or go our own way and end up in hell.
            Proverbs: Dissatisfaction is a common cause of much sin. It is manifested in always wanting more. The “more” can be any number of things from money, power, sex, or things. The root problem is not looking to the Lord for our satisfaction even though he gives abundantly. Instead we look to the world’s ways for our satisfaction and they will never bring it. Ephesians 4:19 expresses the idea that when we become dissatisfied with what God provides, we become calloused and even become greedy in or need for more sensuality. The more sensuality, the more calloused and therefore it takes even more to be satisfied and we never have enough, just like a leech.  
            Revelation: It is amazing how much popular literature affects our view of Revelation. I remember reading about these two witnesses and the speculation of who they are. Some say Elijah and Moses, others say Enoch and Elijah and others say something else. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say they are supernatural beings because they are two olive trees and two lampstands who stand before God (Rev 11:4). I think some have said they are only symbols of the Old Testament saints and the Church because of these two symbols.
            Another popular speculation for Revelation 11:9 is regarding their death and people viewing their bodies. I’ve heard that everyone in the world will be able to see them on TV. Now that would have to be the internet. It isn’t necessary to speculate how everyone in the world sees them because most translations do not make this implication.
            The sensationalism behind these interpretations tend to diminish the power of God to accomplish his mission on the earth even during the worst of persecution and the great opposition from the devil. When it appears that the beast or the devil wins by killing these two witnesses, (he has to make war on them to do it,) God raises them up with his breath and with only two Greek words they go home to heaven.
            Then it’s announced that God is beginning to reign on earth again. We know he is in control, but now he is going to exercise that control. It is all about bringing glory to God, not speculation on detail we are not given and can’t guess. Whether it is in the witnessing of the two, their death, resurrection, or ascension, it all gives glory to God and even unbelievers have to admit to that.

Application

             When I look at Revelation and the struggles that will come upon the earth, I want to remember that earth is not my home. Whatever I do here is preparation for eternity. I want to make the resources I have here count for then. That means sharing the resources in ways that will help people come to know Jesus and share in eternity. I’m “banking” on the truth of God in his word, not the world.

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