Walking Thru The Bible


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               Walking Thru The Bible

               HAGGAI,   ZECHARIAH  And MALACHI
                 These last three prophets in the Old Testament are from the
               period following the Babylonian captivity which we often call the
               "Restoration Period" or post-exilic period.  The common message of
               these prophets was: return to the right ways of the Lord.

                 Haggai and Zechariah were particularly concerned with the
               rebuilding of the temple which had been destroyed by
               Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians nearly 70 years before.  The
               people had been tending to their personal affairs and neglecting the
               temple and other spiritual responsibilities.
                 Haggai has been described as a man with a single ambition.  He
               preached to a poor, discouraged, and frightened people.  He attributed
               their lack of success in all areas of their national life to the single fact
               of their neglect of the temple.  In a bold and authoritative manner, he
               pleaded for the people to rebuild the temple.

                 Haggai and Zechariah are credited with getting the temple
               completed c. 516 BC  (Ezra 6:14-15).  The dates of Haggai's ministry
               which is covered in the book is only about four months in the year
               520 BC (1:1; 2:1; 2:10; 2:20).

                 The temple foundation had been laid almost immediately after the
               exiles returned from Babylon.  But then about sixteen years
               intervened before the work resumed.  It took the powerful exhortation
               of Haggai and Zechariah to motivate Zerubbabel and Jeshua to arise
               and begin to rebuilt the house of God.
               Outline of Haggai:  The prophecy consist of four messages to the
               returned exiles.

                 1. The first message was a call to rebuild the temple.  The
               people objected saying that the time to rebuild had not come.  Haggai
               answered, "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your ceiled
               houses, while this house lieth waste?"  He delivered a stinging rebuke
               to the people for seeking to establish their own prosperity while
               neglecting spiritual responsibilities.  The result of this sermon was
               that Zerubbabel, Joshua and the remnant of the people obeyed the
               voice of the Lord and began rebuilding (1:12-15).

                 2. The second message was designed to encourage the people
               who had undertaken the rebuilding (2:1-9).  

                 3. The third recalled that sin and impure hearts had brought
               God's punishment in the past (2:10-14) and promised that obedience
               and pure hearts would bring divine blessings (2:15-19).

                 4. The fourth message is a messianic prophecy (2:20-23).
                 Zechariah was born and reared in Babylon and was among the
               group that returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel (Neh. 12:1,4,16). 
               He was evidently younger than Haggai and his recorded ministry
               continued a year or so beyond the record of Haggai.

                 Under Haggai and Zechariah's preaching the people were stirred
               to again take up the rebuilding of the temple.  While Haggai rebuked
               and admonished, Zechariah encouraged and looked to brighter days. 
               Their work was fully complementary and compatible.
                 The book of Zechariah contains many visions and a great deal of
               apocalyptic symbolism.  it is the longest and the most difficult of all
               the Minor Prophets.
               Message of Zechariah:  This book is also divided into four sections.

                 1. There is a call for repentance (1:1-6).

                 2. There is a series of night visions about the future of the
               people of God and his kingdom:  

                    (1) riders among the myrtles (1:7-17;  
                    (2) four horns and four smiths (1:18-21;  
                    (3) the man with a measuring line (2:1-13);  
                    (4) Joshua's trial (3:1-10);  
                    (5) a golden lampstand and two olive trees (4:1-14);  
                    (6) the flying scroll (5:1-4); 
                    (7) the woman in the ephah (5:5-11);  
                    (8) the four chariots (6:1-8); 
                    (9) and the crowning of Joshua (6:9-15).

                 3. There is a question about fasting raised (7:1-3), and the point
               is that fasting is useless without obedience (7:4-7).  The Lord's
               expectations of the people are stated (7:8-8:23).

                 4. The people of God are reassured about the future.  The
               heathen nations will fall (9:1-7), and the Messiah will appear 
               (9:8-11:17).  Salvation will be established in spiritual Israel,
               the church   (12:1-14:21).

                 Malachi was the last writing prophet to serve God under the Law
               of Moses.  The material within the book parallels the situation
               described in Nehemiah 13.  Nehemiah had served as governor during
               the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and a few years following. 
               He had returned to Persia to serve the king and in chapter 13 he has
               returned to serve as governor a second time. 

                 The sins dealt with in Malachi are those found in Nehemiah 13
               and thus Malachi may be dated about 433 BC.
                 Background:  The priests were lax and wicked, offerings were
               being neglected, divorce was common, and justice was being
               perverted.  Malachi's intense love for God and the people of God
               moved him to speak with great urgency in the streets and market
               places.  Malachi uses a "question-answer" method of preaching.

                 Malachi challenged the apathy and disloyalty of the people. 
               Poverty and hard times had come.  The people were questioning the
               love of God because of their difficulties and the prophet placed the
               blame where it really belonged.  It was the sin of the people--not the
               lack of divine love--which was at the root of the problems (cf. Isa.
                 Outline of Malachi:  The book opens with an affirmation of the
               love of God for his people (1:1-5) and shows how that love has been
               spurned (1:6-2:9).  A specific rebuke of the people of Malachi's day
               for their widespread profanation of marriage is given (2:10-16). 
               Finally, the prophet looks forward to the coming of  the Messiah.
               A Major Message From Malachi:

                 One of problems besetting the people of Malachi's day is a major
               problem of our society as well.  It is the heartache of unjustified
               divorce and remarriage.  Both the Old and New Testaments allow
               divorce and remarriage in one extreme case, Deut. 24:1-4; Matt. 5:32;

                 A problem in Malachi's day was that some had married
               unlawfully to start with and needed to put away those wives (Ezra
               10:10-12; Neh. 13:23-31; Deut. 7:3-4).  Another problem was some
               men were beginning to cast aside their lawful wives, and such had to
               be dealt with also, Mal. 2:14-15.

                 God's severe attitude toward all such tampering with a divine
               institution is evident in the statement of the prophets (Mal. 2:16).  

- - - SERMON - - - 
                                        A Bag With Holes
               "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." (Haggai 1:6)


               1.   The historical background to Haggai (Cf. ch. 1).

               2.   An overview of Haggai's work and results.
                 a. Sixteen years of wasted efforts and fruitless labors.
                 b. Like sand castles by the sea.  (I Cor. 3:13).

               3.   Am I building on a foundation of wood, hay and stubble? Am I
                                   putting into a bag with holes?  

               4.   When is life a bag of holes where all efforts are wasted?

                 1. In Christ we have all spiritual blessings, Eph. 1:3.

                 2. Every life outside of Christ is a bag with holes, Psa. 127:1


                 1. What price is too great to pay for the safety, welfare and
                                   education of our children?  Rom. 1:16; Psa. 119:104

                 2. How Solomon saw it -- (I Kings 4:29-35; Eccl. 1:18)

                 1. How those of Haggai's day lived -- ch.1 vs. 2 Sam.7:2

                 2. Jesus's declaration in Matt. 6:33

                      IS A BAG WITH HOLES

                 1. Alexander the Great -- 1 Tim. 6:7
                 2. Church at Laodicea -- Rev. 3:17  (Abe Lincoln comment)
                 3. How can we lay up treasures?
                 4. In Christ we are rich.  James 2:5; 1 Thess.3:12; 1 Tim. 6:17-18;
                     1 Pet.1:3-4; 1 Tim. 6:6; Col. 3:16.

               1.   A place where our labor is not in vain!  (Rev.14:13; Heb. 6:10)

               2.   David's observation of prosperity.  Psalms 73:17-19.  Prosperity
                                   without God is putting into a bag with holes.

-- Windell Gann -- Walking Thru the Bible --

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