September 27

Read Zephaniah 1 -- Haggai 2

In Today's Reading:

The day of the Lord's judgment on Judah; an appeal to repent and seek righteousness; judgment on the nations; prophecy of future blessings for Gentiles; appeal to rebuild the Temple; unfaithfulness reproved.

Verses for Today:

Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts . . . This people say, The time is not come . . . that the Lord's House should be built. Then came the Word of the Lord by Haggai . . . Is it time for you . . . to dwell in your cieled (paneled) houses, and this House (of the Lord) lie in waste? (Haggai 1:2-4).

The Israelites who had left Persia started to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem with great enthusiasm. But, there was persistent opposition by their Samaritan neighbors. Added to this, they became involved in building their own homes and working long hours in the fields which contributed to their failure to put God first in their lives. No doubt, many "legitimate excuses" were given as to why the construction of the Temple ceased.

As the people built their own homes and developed their own businesses, rebuilding the Temple looked hopeless. Zerubbabel must have been discouraged as he thought of how much there was to do, how few willing workers there were, and how threatening the opposition was. While the Israelites continued to hope for better times and fewer problems, about 14 years passed and nothing more was accomplished for God. Then God moved upon the prophet Haggai to proclaim His Word. Two months later, Zechariah also began proclaiming the Word of the Lord (Ezra 5:1; Haggai 1:3-11).

Despite Israel's excuses, the Lord said: Consider your ways. [You] have sown much, and bring in little . . . and he that [earns] wages [earns] wages to put (them) [in] a bag with holes (1:5-6).

Upon hearing the Word of the Lord, the people renewed their interest in building the Temple, the one place designated by God for His people to worship Him. This time they ignored the threats of their enemies, and the elders of the Jews [built], and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah (Ezra 6:14); and the Temple was completed in just four years.

People today make similar excuses for failing to worship the Lord and giving tithes and offerings to Him. But, God reminds us: The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, [says] the Lord of hosts (Haggai 2:8).

Like the people of God in the days of Haggai, Christians today neglect reading all of God's Word. Without the Truth of God, we subsequently are vulnerable to false teachings and to every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). Hearing the Word of God renews our love for Him and His Word. This also imparts the spiritual strength needed to put Him first in our lives.

The principles of God for achieving the best in life never change. Jesus said: Seek . . . first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things (material necessities) shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).

Christ Revealed:

As King of Israel, even the Lord (Zephaniah 3:15; compare John 1:49:33-37).

Word Studies:

Zephaniah 1:4 Chemarims = the idolatrous priests in charge; 1:9 leap on the threshhold = rush into houses to confiscate the property; 2:15 carelessly = securely; Haggai 2:7 desire of all nations = the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Prayer Needs:

Government Official: Rep. Victor Snyder (AR) · Pray for one more person to read through the Bible · Country: Uzbekistan (24 million) central Asia · Major languages: Uzbek and Russian · Limited religious freedom due to Islamic influence · 68% Muslim; 4% Russian Orthodox; .5% Protestant/Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Give thanks for the privilege of assembling with other Christians each week (Hebrews 10:25).

Memory Verse for the Week: Romans 14:13