Today’s Bible Reading: Haggai 1-2:23; Revelation 11:1-19; Psalm 139:1-24; Proverbs 30:15-16
Today we read the writings of the prophet Haggai who was called by God to give Israel a message about their laziness and excuses.
Haggai was employed by God as a prophet after the Jews returned from exile in Babylon (Haggai 1:1). This is the first of three post-exilic prophets. All the previous prophets we’ve read lived prior to (or during) Israel’s exile to Assyria and Babylon.
At this point the people had been back in their land for approximately 18 years yet the work on rebuilding the Temple had ceased some 14 years earlier. The reason: the people were making excuses (Haggai 1:2). At first the building project started off great (Ezra 3:10-11) but eventually the people became distracted and discouraged. The work was apparently too hard and they faced too much hostility from those who didn’t want the Temple rebuilt.
Such is the case in our own lives. If we want something badly enough we’ll work for it. But too often we say we want something but don’t make a whole-hearted effort to achieve it. We let much less important things distract us. Or we talk ourselves out of it by letting ill-conceived thoughts convince us that our goal is not achievable.
But notice that even though the people ceased being interested in rebuilding the Temple, they seemed to have no problem building luxurious houses for themselves (Haggai 1:3-4). Its always more fun to take care of ourselves rather than to put others, including God, first. So often we think we can take better care of others once we have taken care of ourself. The problem is we never get to the point where we’re willing to consider ourselves “taken care of”.
When we fail to make God a priority He has a way of making our work seem pointless (Haggai 1:6). When we find ourselves working hard but not getting anywhere the problem is almost always that we are working toward the wrong goal.
But when we work towards the goal that God has in mind for us – the one that He knows will work out best for us – He promises to be with us through the entire thing. No matter how hard it gets (Haggai 1:13).
Today we read one of my favorite passages about the Tribulation. During this 7-year period the world will fall into chaos – completely due to its own poor judgement. The second half of the Tribulation will see Jerusalem “trampled” by Gentile (non-Jewish) nations (Revelation 11:2).
Also during this time, a series of really cool events takes place. God raises up two men, called “witnesses”, who will preach publicly for all to repent (Revelation 11:3). They will be given power by God to supernaturally kill anyone who tries to kill them. They will also be able to control nature (Revelation 11:5-7). Everyone will hate them. It would not be surprising for these men to be the talk of the entire earth.
When God deems their job to be complete He will allow Satan to kill them (Revelation 11:7). Their corpses will lay in the streets of Jerusalem while the whole world looks on and rejoices over their deaths (Revelation 11:8-10). Notice that these verses, written almost 2,000 years ago, seem to foretell the advent of real-time mass communication. For centuries people wondered how “all peoples” and “all nations” would be able to view the bodies of these witnesses. But now we know. Through the use of TV and mobile devices we can see just about anything happen just about anywhere in the world in real-time. Chalk up another accurate prophecy in the Bible!
Then things get really cool. After laying dead for 3.5 days, God will resurrect these men, completely terrifying people all over the globe. Then He will bring them up to heaven in much the same way Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after He rose from the dead (Revelation11:11-12).
In Revelation 11:15 the seventh trumpet finally sounds causing yet another world-wide earthquake (Revelation 11:19). This the fourth one thus far – and we’re barely half-way through the 7-year Tribulation period.
Fourteen judgements have passed. There are seven more yet to come.
If you are a child of God (as defined in John 1:12 and elsewhere) then God is with you where ever you go (Psalm 139: 5-12). And even better… He thinks only good thoughts about you (Psalm 139:17).
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