June 2, 2019 – Haggai 1

Lesson Date: June 2, 2019

Focal Scripture Passage: Haggai 1:1-15

AIM: To lead students to discover the consequences the ancient Israelites faced because they left the Temple unfinished for sixteen years, and to examine their lives to determine if they are suffering negative consequences because they have left their work for God unfinished.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Haggai 1 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the words “Unfinished Work” on the marker board or chalkboard.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to the words “Unfinished Work” written on the board. Ask: “Have you ever left any projects unfinished at home or at your place of employment?” If the students answer affirmatively, ask if any of them will tell the class about their unfinished projects. They might name cleaning out a closet, the garage, or the attic, repairing something that is broken, organizing their family photos, or any number of projects at their place of employment. Be prepared to name some of your own if the students are slow in responding.

Ask: “Why haven’t you finished that project?” (other things seemed more pressing, lack of interest in the project, unwilling to be inconvenienced). Tell the class it is easy to leave a project unfinished. We get busy with other things and that project slips to the “back burner.” Over time we can become oblivious to the project, walking by a broken object in need of repair for years without even noticing it.

Tell the class there are sometimes negative consequences from leaving a project unfinished. For example, if you don’t get your car’s brakes fixed when they need it, they might fail altogether, resulting in a serious accident. Tell the class today’s lesson is about a group of people who left an important project unfinished for 16 years, as well as the consequences they suffered because the work was not completed.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Introduction to Haggai.
    • Read Haggai 1:1.
    • Introduce the book of Haggai using the following outline:
      • Direct the class’ attention to the Timeline of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
      • Remind them that Zerubbabel led the first group of returning Jewish captives from Babylon to Jerusalem in 538 c.
      • They immediately set up an altar and resumed the Old Testament sacrificial system.
      • They began rebuilding the Temple in 536 c., but because of opposition from their enemies they abandoned the project and the work stopped.
      • According to Ezra 5:1-2 and 6:14, God used the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the Jews to get back to work and finish rebuilding the Temple.
    • The date Haggai gave in verse 1was late August of 520 c.
  2. “Consider Your Ways!”
    • Ask a volunteer to read Haggai 1:2-5.
    • Ask: “According to verse 2, what did God say the people were saying?” (the time had not yet come to build the Temple).
    • Ask: “According to verse 3, who did the Lord send to speak to them?” (Haggai the prophet).
    • Ask: “What did the Lord (through Haggai) ask the people in verse 4?” (“Is it time for you to live in fine houses while my house lies in ruins?”).
    • Explain that during the preceding 16 years the Jews had neglected the Temple of God, while at the same time they built and remodeled and fixed up their own houses. They neglected the needs of God’s house to beautify and improve their houses.
    • Ask: “Are modern Christians ever guilty of doing that? If so, in what ways?”
    • Ask: “What do you think God meant by saying, ‘Consider your ways’ in verse 5?” (He warned them to give serious thought to what they were doing and the consequences of their actions).
    • Remind the class that 19 years earlier God miraculously moved upon the heart of King Cyrus of Persia to release the Jews and instruct them to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus even provided the money and building materials.
    • Summarize: The Jews had abandoned the Temple rebuilding project, but God warned them to think about what they were doing and get back to work.
  3. Consequences of Failing to Obey God.
    • Tell the class in verses 6 and 9-11 God named ten specific consequences of the Jews’ failure to obey Him and finish building the Temple.
    • Ask them to listen for those consequences as you read Haggai 1:6-11.
    • After reading the verses ask a volunteer to come to the board and write the consequences as students name them (you can use a large piece of paper or poster board if a marker board or chalkboard is not available).
    • Ask the students to identify the consequences, and then have the volunteer write each one on the board. They should name the following:
      • They sowed much but reaped little (v. 6).
      • They didn’t have enough food (v. 6).
      • They didn’t have enough to drink (v. 6).
      • Their clothing was insufficient to keep them warm (v. 6).
      • They earned wages but quickly lost their money; they never had enough (v. 6).
      • They looked for much but found little (v. 9).
      • God quickly blew away everything they had (v. 9).
      • There was no dew on the ground to water the crops (v. 10).
      • The earth wasn’t bringing forth fruit (v. 10).
      • There was a drought throughout the land (v. 11).
    • Summarize: The Jews suffered serious consequences because they had failed to obey God and rebuild His Temple.
  4. The Cause of Those Consequences.
    • Tell the class these were very serious consequences – as serious as if there was no food at our grocery stores, our clothing stores were empty, and we had no
    • Ask: “Why were these ancient Jews suffering such hardship?” (God clearly gave the answer in the last half of verse 9 – “Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house”).
    • Tell the students these ancient Jews were more concerned with their own comfort and convenience than with obeying God by finishing the work of building His house.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Haggai 1:7.
    • Ask: “What did God say to them again?” (“Consider your ways!”).
    • Ask everyone to silently read verse 8.
    • Ask: “What did God tell them to do?” (go up to the Temple mount, bring wood, and build the Temple).
    • Ask: “What did God promise them?” (He would be happy with what they did and would glorify Himself in their new Temple).
    • Summarize: The Jews’ trouble was caused by their disobedience to God. They selfishly took care of themselves and their houses, while allowing God’s Temple to lie in ruins.
  5. The People Obeyed God and Got to Work Building the Temple.
    • Read Haggai 1:12-15.
    • Ask: “How did Zerubbabel, Joshua the high priest, and the people respond to God’s instruction through the prophet Haggai?” (they obeyed and feared the Lord).
    • Ask: “According to verse 13, how did God respond to their obedience?” (He promised His presence with them as they worked).
    • Tell the students the Lord stirred up the spirits of Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people, and they went back to work on the Temple.
    • Ask: “What do you think it means that the Lord ‘stirred up’ their spirits?”
    • Ask: “Has the Lord ever stirred up your spirit to do something?”
    • Explain that verse 15 tells us this second message (verses 12-15) was given 23 days after the first, in early September of 520 c.
    • Summarize: After God’s prophet rebuked and warned the Jews, they all got back to work rebuilding the Temple.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the class the Jews had selfishly turned away from God’s building project – rebuilding the Temple – and focused instead on fixing up their own houses. When God rebuked and warned them through the prophet Haggai, the people got back to work.

Ask: “Have you left any work for God unfinished?” (this might include witnessing, tithing, serving as a Sunday School class leader, working in VBS, singing in the choir, or playing in the orchestra). Ask: “Has God impressed upon you to do something, but you haven’t done it? Are you more concerned with your personal comfort and convenience than with serving the Lord?”

Read the list of consequences on the board. Ask: “Can you relate to any of those things personally? Is it possible some of your troubles could have been brought on by your disobedience or lack of willingness to serve God?” Encourage the students to confess their sins and recommit themselves to doing God’s work.

Tell the students this lesson is very timely for us because our church is raising money for a new building project. In ancient times the people physically did the work of rebuilding the Temple, but in our day we give money to hire skilled workers to do the job for us. Tell them that just as the ancient Jews should not have neglected God’s house to focus instead on fixing up theirs, we should not make the same mistake. The ancient Jews suffered many and serious consequences for their disobedience. We must beware of suffering similar consequences if we selfishly ignore the work of God so we can have more money to spend on ourselves. We need to put God first in every area of our lives, including our finances. Lead a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Haggai 1:7. Tell the students one way they can serve the Lord is by participating in outreach visitation (Connect) this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. It will take some of their time and energy, and they will have to give up doing something else during that time; but if God has told them to do it they might spare themselves some negative consequences. Tell them to do the Daily Bible Readings listed in their quarterly every day this week.

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