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Monday, November 4, 2013

Christian Formation for Nov. 10 - Haggai 1:15b-2:9; The Command to Rebuild the Temple and Its Future Glory

Nov 10, 2013 – 25 Pentecost
Haggai 1:15b—2:9
The Command to Rebuild the Temple
The Future Glory of the Temple
Background: The Book of Haggai (HAG-ay-ai) is one of the books of the scroll of the Twelve and one of the Minor Prophets in Hebrew Scripture. With the exception of this book little known about Haggai: his family, the exact time of his ministry, etc. Yet he is considered a prophet who tells the people about the need to continue restoring the Nation of Israel to its former status and spiritual grandeur. Some posit that Haggai may be a contemporary of Zechariah

Theme: While reasonably specific regarding its timing, there are some issues with the dating of the passage that may impact interpretation. The Israelites have most likely returned from exile and are rebuilding the temple in honor of God. The people are disheartened because the size of the endeavor because their limited resources and their oppressive neighbors.

Questions to Ponder:
* Read Haggai 1:15b—2:9.
* When do you think this passage was written? How would Haggai being a contemporary of Zechariah impact or influence the people of Israel?
* Why do you think the date stamp of this passage is divided between verses 1:15b and 2:1?
* How is Haggai’s prophecy to Israel different than other prophets in the Old Testament?
* Why might there be a difference between Haggai and other prophets?
* How old would a person have to be for them to have “seen the former glory [of the temple]…” as Haggai recounts in verse 2:3? Do you think it is possible that someone is still around that had been present when the old temple had been destroyed?
* What impact do you think the three occurrences of “take courage” in verse 2:4 might have on those who heard Haggai’s proclamation?
* Why might the promise of God’s spirit abiding with the people be a reason for the Israelites to not fear (verse 2:5)?
* Is there anything ironic in the temporal shift in verse 2:6? Prior to this verse the passage had a definite dating and now Haggai moves to the norm “in a little while” as God speaks with the people.
* Why might the wealth of the nations come to Israel and to the new temple?
* What is ironic when comparing the new temple to the old?
* Some have argued this passage may be better viewed as a real time conversation between Haggai and Israel. How might a real time conversation be different than a discussion or description of the end times which typically appears in Old Testament prophetic books?
* What is most striking to you as this book describes Israel’s restoration and the return to the “old order” that includes temple worship at the center of the nation?
* What is the message of hope and challenge for the people of Israel in the face of oppression and more powerful nations?
* What is the story we share in our time with the story of Israel and Haggai?
* What application do we have based on this passage?

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