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Bible Pathways - Sept. 27, 2008


September 27

Zephaniah 1

Highlights In Today's Reading:

Zephaniah, the prophet, reveals that sin will be judged (1:17). But God is merciful to all who yield to Him (2:1-3). One day all nations will worship the Lord (2:11; 3:9). The King of kings will rule (3:15).

Haggai was among the first exiles to return from Babylon under the leadership of Zerubbabel, the governor, and Joshua, the high priest. Their purpose was to rebuild the Temple (Ezra 3:8; Haggai 1:14). They first set up the altar and established daily worship and rebuilt the foundation of the Temple. But the opposition by their Samaritan neighbors finally caused the construction to cease (Ezra 4:24). About fifteen years elapsed.

During this interval the people became occupied with their own personal affairs. Though times were hard, they managed to build for themselves homes but felt they had no time and money for the House of God. The people gave many excuses why it was not the time to renew their efforts — the opposition of the Samaritans, the losses from bad harvests, and the long hours they had to work in the fields.

Haggai disregarded all excuses and said: Consider your ways (Haggai 1:5) — meaning: "Why should you enjoy the comfort of your own houses while the House of God remains in ruins?" You reap a bad harvest. Your wages are not meeting your needs. You look for so much and get so little. Why?

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

Upon hearing the Word of the Lord (1:3), the people renewed their commitment to rebuilding 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 builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah. . . . And they builded, and finished it, according to the Commandment of the God of Israel (Ezra 6:14). The Temple was completed in just four years. Without the Word of the Lord as a standard, we easily fall prey to excuses. Reading the Word of God imparts the spiritual strength needed to put Him first in our lives.

These Israelites illustrate that, to gain the best in life, no man can serve two masters . . . Ye cannot serve God and mammon. . . . Take no thought for your life. . . . take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? . . . or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles (the unsaved) seek). . . . But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:24-33).

We are labourers together with God. . . . But let every man take heed how he buildeth (I Corinthians 3:9-10).

Thought for Today:

Doing God's will does not depend on our timetable or circumstances. He alone determines the task and provision, our job is to be obedient.

Christ Revealed:

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

Word Studies:

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

Prayer Needs:

Pray for International Shortwave Broadcasts in memory of Harold Q. Preston • Staff: Mary Kay Wagner • Government Officials: Rep. Victor Snyder (AR) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL) • Country: Guatemala (12.3 million) in Central America • Major languages: Spanish and Indian languages • Religious freedom • 60% Catholic; 35% Protestant; 2% Animist; 1.5% Other; 1.5% None • Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord to be merciful and to forgive your sins (Psa. 25:6-7).

Memory Verse for the Week: 2 Timothy 2:12

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