His Work First

Haggai

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Saturday, April 22

The prophet Haggai is among the first prophets to prophesy after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 586/587 BCE. The ministry of Haggai can be dated to happening in the year 520 BCE and his words are directed towards two people in particular: Zerubbabel the governor of Judah and Joshua the high priest (Hag.1.1). The message of the prophet is to encourage Zerubbabel and Joshua to rebuild the dilapidated and desecrated temple.

Verse four of chapter one contains what God has against the people and leaders. To paraphrase God says, ‘Why are you living in your nice comfortable homes while my house, the temple, lies still ruined?’. Now this is a different generation than the one that experienced the destruction and exile, but when they returned to the land they carried on about their concerns first before tending to the things of God, namely the temple. Zerubbabel and Joshua hear this charge from God and they take action and focus their attention on the rebuilding of the temple. God blesses their work and encourages them to continue and finish.

Do you put the things of God first or the things of you first? In my experience, when I put myself first ultimately in the end it leaves me unfilled in addition to neglecting God. However, when I put God first not only am I putting things in the right perspective but God also provides for my needs and desires. Putting the things of God first can look like: discipleship, evangelism, Bible study, prayer, pursuing holiness, and so on. When you reflect on your life are you putting yourself first or God first? Is God and the kingdom a priority for you? Be a Matthew 6.33 man or woman.

-Jacob Rohrer

 

(Photo Credit: Illustration by Liz Hagler – found at http://hookedonthebook.com/the-big-idea-of-haggai-is-the-encouragement-to-rise-up-and-rebuild-the-temple/)

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Faith of Our Fathers (1 Chronicles 11-13)

Friday, November 18

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As I mentioned in the devotion a few days ago for 1 Chronicles 1-2, tradition says that this book was probably written after the Israelites returned to Jerusalem following 70 years in exile.  This was probably during the time that Jerusalem was being rebuilt, a time with a lot of struggles and fear.   There were not walls around the city.  There were enemy nations around.  They had not had their own kingdom in the entire time most of the people had been alive.  This was all new for them.

These chapters start the retelling of the time when David was king, a prosperous time in their history.  In 1 Chronicles 11:4, it says:

David and all the Israelites marched to Jerusalem (that is, Jebus).  The Jebusites who lived there said to David, “You will not get in here.”  Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion, the city of David.

Then in verse 8, it says about King David:

He built up the city around it, from the supporting terraces to the surrounding wall, while Joab restored the rest of the city.

This must have been very encouraging at this time to see that David had to conquer and then build up Jerusalem, including the walls, during his reign.  The nation was greatly blessed while David reigned, so why couldn’t they rebuild and be prosperous and be blessed again.  David had trusted God, and they were now trusting God, so they could look forward to blessings and protection just as the people in the time of David.

We can all look back to the people in the church before us, and see how they trusted God, and how the church has been blessed through them.  This may be people in our family, in our local church, or others that we know of.  Their examples and the things that they have done through faith should teach us that with faith, we can also have protection, peace, and blessings as we serve the LORD.

-Andrew Hamilton