Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Thursday, June 06, 2013

First Things First! (Haggai)

Sabbath School - June 8 - Haggai
A Sabbath School resource from the Victoria Conference of the Adventist Church in Australia

Read through Haggai together as a group, stopping occasionally to discuss the following questions and other questions of your own.

Haggai 1:1-11: Distracted 
What was the problem? How could they fix it? Why hadn’t they done it, yet?
If visitors and travelers came to the homes in Judah they would see cleanliness and opulence but if they went to the temple in the city, it was in shambles. What did it say about their God? What did it say about their faith? What did it say about them in general?
How did God ask them to fix the problem?

Haggai 1:12-2:5: Ready for Change
Were you surprised by the quick response and action of the people? Not every prophet was so lucky! What does this tell us about the people of Judah at this time? 
Think of a time in your life when correction was easily heard and applied. What made it easy for you to change? What about the opposite times - what things in life can make it difficult to hear correction and make wise changes?
Why do you think Haggai didn’t write “Everyone...” rather than listing the leaders individually and mentioning the people? What impact is made by listing each leader? What might the story be behind this “victory list” of leaders? 

Haggai 2:6-9: God Comes Home
When we build something or do something for God, He accepts it and fills it with His glory. The impact of the arrival of God’s presence is earth shaking! (see verse 6) What stories can you tell from your life when God shook your world as His presence filled your life?
How does this infilling of God’s Spirit cause His statement that “the silver in mind and the gold is mine” to become true in our lives? 
How does our life become a “place of peace” when God’s glory increases in us and our church?

Haggai: Themes
Theme 1. Look at Haggai 1:5, 7; 2:15, 18 - What is the repeated advice? Why is this important in each of the four verses? How is this attribute important in building the Kingdom and a life within the Kingdom? 
Theme 2. At the apex of Haggai’s message is a call to courage. Read Haggai 2:4 and consider what this message may have meant to each person it was given - in their role, personality and reputation. How is Haggai challenging them?
Theme 3. There is a message to people of every level of power in Haggai. Compare Haggai 1:13 and 2:4. What is the message? How should this message from God effect the people and leaders it was given to? How should it empower them to meet the above two challenges for change?

Haggai: Timeliness
This is the easiest book of the 66 for Biblical scholars to date. Look at Haggai 1:1, 1:15-2:1, 2:10, 2:20 - Why do you think dates are given so frequently? 

Haggai 2:10-19: The Holy Handshake
Imagine you’ve just been working in the garden. A neighbour approaches and greets you, extending their hand in friendship. You start to reach out and then notice your hand is covered in mud. Is it possible, at this point, to shake the neighbour’s hand without soiling them? What if refusing to shake their hand was the ruder option? You would shake hands and your neighbour would leave, dirtied because he interacted with you.
Now imagine you’ve just finished washing and drying the dishes and the same neighbour knocks on your door. You head to the door and warmly greet your neighbour with a friendly handshake. When you let go of your neighbours hand, is their hand now clean enough to eat off of (like the dishes) because of your touch? Most likely not!
This is the picture Haggai is painting in these verses. A holy people do not make their neighbours holy by association. But a sinful people do cause sin to spread by interaction with their neighbours. 
What can be done? It seems the sin problem is cursed to win. Is sin truly stronger than holiness? Imagine you were to add a third episode to our “Neighbour’s Handshake” story that made all contact beautifying. How does that story go?

Haggai 2:20-23: Shaking the Hand of God
Haggai had a second prophecy come to him on the same day as the one about holy and defiled people. This time God says, “I’m gonna shake this place!” which should remind the reader of what happens (in 2:6) when God moves in to your world. On the day when God comes to stay (Haggai finishes his book with these words) God declares, “ ‘I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
What is the purpose of a Signet ring? Who is made to act as God’s signet ring? What does this mean? 
If we are the hands of Jesus to the suffering world around us, what does it mean that we are now God’s signet ring on those hands?  
What is God’s answer, in the book of Haggai, to the problem of sin among us?
  1. Build a place for Him to live, and He will move in and shake the place with His glory.
  2. Give careful thought to your lifestyle. Who’s Kingdom are you building?
  3. Be strong and work. What are you working to accomplish?
  4. Seal the Deal - Short term becomes long term when service is followed up with salvation. It’s the Kingdom changer for the next person!