I've escaped the wilds of northern Lancashire for the weekend, and have headed to the lovely east coast to spend some time with my Grandparents. Similarly, In this post I'm making a little diversion away from Colossians, taking up one of the apostle Paul's desires for the colossian church and have studied some of the old testament (the first half of the Bible, written before Jesus' ministry).
Colossians 3:16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.")
So here's a quick overview of what I learned from the book of Haggai!*
*Disclaimer: My context and study was done without the wisdom of others. I've tried to back up all I've said from the book of Haggai or other books of the Bible, however I realise that in my inexperience/young knowledge I may have gone awry! Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Context This book is in the old testament, and so it pre-Jesus' ministry. Haggai was around during the reign of Darius, a Babylonian/Chaldean king (Hag 1:1, 1:15, 2:10). Darius was relatively leniant towards the Israelites (Dan 6:2-6). The people of Israel were mostly exiled to Babylon and the temple in Jerusalem destroyed. A remnant of the people however remained in Judah (Hag 1:12). The Judeans were beginning to repent and return to God (Dan 9:1-20)
NB I was quite excited when I discovered that Daniel (exile) was written at the same time as Haggai (remnant)!
1:1-11 - God (Yahweh) has judged & witheld his blessing, because his people have not worshipped him
1:12-15 - The people of Judah realise, turn back to God, and rebuild the temple as much as they can
2:1-9 - God's temple will one day be rebuilt to give him full glory, true peace then
2:10-17 - The people of Judah will always be unclean, and so not fully deserving of God's blessing
2:18-19 - They are to remember God blessed/es them, though they don't deserve it. The relationship is undeservedly restored.
2:20-23 - God will restore his kingdom
Judah, the surviving part of the promised land in (southern Israel), had been captured by the Babylonians, and the holy temple in Jerusalem [the sign of God's presence] looted and destroyed (2 Chron 26:18-20, Dan 1:1-7). The majority of Judeans had either been slaughtered (2 Chron 36:17, Hab 2:17) or exiled, as in the case of Daniel (Dan 1:3-4), with only a small, poor remnant remaining (2 Kings 25:12). All this was forewarned judgement for the Judeans repeated, and long term rejection of rebellion of God (Hab 1, Micah 1).
Haggai was a prophet to the remnant left in Judah. Inspite of the judegement the people hadn't learnt from God's punishment to them - they still cared only for themselves. God, ever patient, speaks to the remnant through Haggai, after they have experienced several years without his blessing. Without him, they could not even meet their most basic needs! Haggai addresses all the remnant (Governor, High Priest, and people), reminding them that they have been and are being judged, because they didn't treat or want to treat God (creator, sustainer, provider) with the respect and glory that was truely due to him.
This realisation amongst the remnant leads to them to return to God, and start to rebuild the destroyed temple in Jerusalem - the traditional place when they met with God. Their work was nothing like as splendid as the original temple was, or indeed as much as God deserved/s. God reminds them of his promises to his people, and despite their inability to worship him as he deserves, he will bless them once again, promising that he will more than restore his kingdom.
Paediatric themed illustration (lol, my current med school rotation) Turning back to God might be like... a 3 year old trying really hard to draw a picture for their father because they want to please him. It's not a masterpiece, however when they give it to him, he shows his joy and love to the child, welcoming and encouraging him. God wanted Israel (and all people today) to stop living to serve themselves, and to turn back him.
Points for thought
- We see how truely reliant man is on God - No one's attempts to be in control will ever be truely enough
- We need to live for God and not for ourselves
- God's rule and kingdom is and will be fully restored (through his new king - Jesus!) - There will be a judgement, and justice will be revealed
- God is a gracious and forgiving father, accepting us back if we truely desire his forgiveness i.e. turn (repent) back to him
Quick personal reflections I take far too much for granted, and despite my too often feeble efforts in trying to live for him, I've still got a long way to go! I need to trust God a lot more in the situations around me - he's the one in control. I guess in some ways, it's blasphemous to thing that I can handle everything!!! I should also rejoice more in the blessing of his kingdom now, and rejoice in the certain hope of the kingdom to come!