Introduction: Does it seem like you have a hole in your pocket? You
can never get ahead, never save? Whenever it seems like you are going
to have additional money, it turns out that some new need arises that
sets you back to where you were before! If you answered, “Yes, that
describes my life,” then carefully consider the book of Haggai. Our
study this week is about a people who have been released from
Babylonian captivity, but things are not going right in their lives.
Let’s dive into the Bible and find out why!

  1. A Message About Priorities

    1. Read Haggai 1:1. When God’s people returned from
      Babylonian captivity they worked on rebuilding Jerusalem.
      They worked on the wall, on the temple, and on their
      homes. Their Samaritan neighbors didn’t like this, so they
      persuaded Artaxerxes to stop the rebuilding of the temple.
      However, when King Darius came to power in Persia, he
      allowed the Jews to continue rebuilding the temple. How
      would you react if you lived in that time and King Darius
      had just given you permission to work on the temple?

    2. Read Haggai 1:2. What did the people of that time
      actually say? (The time has not yet come to rebuild the

      1. How can that be? (Read Jeremiah 25:11 and Daniel 9:2.
        Daniel prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed
        for seventy years. The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown
        Commentary says that the seventy years had not yet
        expired, and so the people said, “We should wait.”
        Barnes Notes says that the seventy years had long
        passed, and the people were playing with the dates to
        put off further rebuilding.)

    3. Read Haggai 1:3-4. What seems to be the real reason for
      putting off rebuilding the temple of God? (The people were
      working on their own homes.)

      1. Does God get into a discussion of when the seventy-year prophecy actually expired? (No.)

      2. What is God’s point? (The people lacked concern about
        what matters to God.)

        1. What is the answer to God’s question? (No! The
          people thought the time had come to rebuild
          their homes, why was the time not right for the

      3. How is that question applicable to our lives today?

    4. Read Haggai 1:5-6. Will God cause us to have financial
      problems if we are not generous towards His work?

      1. Read 2 Corinthians 9:7. How does this fit into our
        discussion? What if these people considered the
        temple, and decided the time was not right. Would
        that fit the “each man should decide language?”

        1. If so, why are these people being punished?

      2. Is God giving payback to the people who have
        neglected His temple? If not, what do you think that
        God is doing?

      3. Look again at Haggai 1:5-7. Notice that twice God
        says, “Give careful thought to your ways.” What does
        that suggest about God’s motive? (God is trying to
        get the attention of the people. He sends Haggai with
        a message, and He frustrates the prosperity of the
        people. Notice that 2 Corinthians 9:7 also starts out
        with an instruction to consider your situation: “each
        man should give what he has decided in his heart…”)

    5. Read Haggai 1:8. When we build nice churches, when we
      advance God’s work, how does God react? (He takes pleasure
      in us honoring Him.)

    6. Read Haggai 1:9-11. God previously said, “Think about why
      you are not prospering.” We discussed what we thought that
      God was doing. God now gives His answer about what He is
      doing. What is it? (God clearly states that He is actively
      frustrating their effort to be prosperous because they
      have not paid attention to God’s needs.)

  2. Message Received

    1. Read Haggai 1:12-15. How do the people react to God’s
      message? (They start working on God’s house.)

      1. When the verses say that God “stirred up the spirit”
        of the leaders, what does that mean? (The Holy Spirit
        brought conviction to their spirit.)

        1. What does “their spirit” mean? Is this
          something other than the Holy Spirit? (Read
          John 14:15-17 and Romans 8:9. God’s Holy Spirit
          will live in us and direct our ways. Having a
          better understanding of the Holy Spirit is a
          new area of interest for me. I don’t completely
          understand, but I am sure that our brain is not
          just a bunch of meat. We intuitively know that
          we have an identity (Hebrew: “ruwach”), and
          these texts suggest that we can somehow “merge”
          our spirit with the Holy Spirit to live a
          Spirit-led life. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do
          you not know that your body is a temple of the
          Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have
          received from God.”)

    2. Read Haggai 2:1-3. What is the good news here? (That the
      people completed the work of rebuilding God’s temple.)

      1. What is the bad news? (It is “nothing” compared to
        the glory of the former temple.)

      2. Stop a minute and consider this. Were the people
        challenged to rebuild the temple to its former glory?
        (No. They were challenged to rebuild it, and not
        leave it as a ruin.)

  3. God’s Reaction

    1. Read Haggai 2:4-5. Is God unhappy that His house is not as
      nice as it used to be? (No! God just wanted them to
      consider their attitude towards God’s temple. He now
      encourages them when they are discouraged because the
      rebuilt temple lacks the glory of the former temple.)

      1. How is God with them? (“My Spirit remains among

    2. Read Haggai 2:6-9. When the people were discouraged about
      the looks of the new temple, what was it lacking? (It
      lacked silver and gold.)

      1. What does God say about silver and gold? (He owns it

        1. What is God’s point? (If we partner with God,
          He will bring the “silver and gold” for His

      2. Is silver and gold the focus of what God wants for
        His glory? (No! “The desired of all nations will
        come.” The true glory of the rebuilt temple is that
        Jesus will stand in it!)

        1. What lesson is there in this for us today? (If
          you want to use your church to bring glory to
          God, it is not how fancy it is, but whether the
          Holy Spirit fills it.)

  4. A Prosperity Parable

    1. Read Haggai 2:10-12. Do you agree with the priests? (Yes.)

    2. Read Haggai 2:13. Do you agree with the priests’ answer?

    3. Read Haggai 2:14. What does this mean? (When a person or a
      people are “defiled” (meaning out of favor with God) they
      defile whatever they touch. Bumping into good people does
      not make them good.)

    4. Exactly what that means is less than clear, so let’s read
      on to get God’s fuller insight. Read Haggai 2:15. Notice
      that God says we need to think about this a little bit, so
      that shows us that we do not completely understand this
      parable yet.)

    5. Read Haggai 2:16-19. God says three times, “give careful
      thought.” What is it that makes us good, that blesses us?
      (When the people left God’s house in ruins, God interfered
      with their blessings. When the people laid the foundation
      to rebuild God’s house, God blessed them.)

      1. What is the source of blessings, being in contact
        with other good people? (That is good, but the true
        source is God.)

    6. Read Haggai 2:20-23. What does it mean to be blessed by
      God? (He defeats your enemies!)

    7. Haggai teaches us that if we obey we prosper. Deuteronomy
      28 teaches us exactly the same thing. Even the story of
      Job teaches us that obedience brings prosperity. How do
      you explain Jesus’ poverty? The poverty of His disciples?
      (Re-read Haggai 2:7-9. True riches, true glory is to have
      the Holy Spirit dwell in you. If you are faithful, will
      God bless you materially? I think the answer is “yes,” but
      the real blessing is being filled with God’s Spirit!)

    8. Friend, have you “given careful thought” to the priorities
      of your life? Are you careful to promote God’s Kingdom,
      and not just your kingdom? Why not determine right now to
      make advancing the Kingdom of God a priority in your life?

  5. Next week: Visions of Hope (Zechariah).