Saturday, June 8, 2013

First Things First

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

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Due to technical difficulties there will be no audio player this week.

Here is the script:

 “First Things First! (Haggai)”
There are three main things on this book worth exploring.  One is the messages of Haggai to the people.  Second is the term Desire of nations.  Third is answering the question of the  lesson, such as: “Do you see any warning here for us?” “How can we learn to better appreciate the importance of the sanctuary message in the plan of salvation?” “Why is [Old Testament prophecy] so relevant for Christians even today?”
Let us deal first with the messages.  Haggai preached three messages to the returning Jewish remnant from their Babylonian captivity. (Actually five, but they can be combined into three.) The time of the three messages corresponds with our months of August, October and December. His first message was in regard to their hands; the second, to their hearts; and the third, to their heads.
The August Message (1:1-15). This was directed to the people’s hands. God said, build the Temple (1:2, 4–11). The people’s complacency is recorded in verse 2. “This people says, ‘The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.’ ” But the Lord pointed out two things (1) The people’s materialism (1:4,5). They were living in luxurious homes while the Temple lay in ruins. (2) The people’s misery (1:6, 9–11). They planted much, but harvested little. Attempting many things, they failed in everything.
     Nevertheless, God reassured them that if they would build the Temple, He would bless them abundantly. (1:7,8). He spoke through three of His servants: one from public life, Zerubbabel (Judah’s governor), one from the church, Joshua (Judah’s high priest), and the third, Haggai (Judah’s prophet). (1:1, 3, 12–15).
The October Message (2:1-9). This message was directed to the people’s hearts. There was both weeping and rejoicing at the second Temple’s dedication. Some of the older men remembered the glories of the first temple (Solomon’s) wept as they compared the second building with the first one. In light of this, Haggai attempts to encourage everyone as he speaks of the coming of the Messiah (verse 7).
     The prophet tells them to take courage because God’s presence among them is far more important than the size and glory of any earthly Temple. Although the outward splendor and glory of Solomon’s temple was greater than the one built after the captivity, this second one would be far more glorious than the first. “‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts” (2:9). This was to be because Jesus, “The Desire of All Nations” would come and fill this second temple with the presence of heaven (2:7).
The December Message (2:10-23). This final message was directed to the people’s heads. It* involved thinking, pondering and reasoning. There were facts Haggai wanted the people to think about, especially Judah’s contamination (2:10–19). He reminded them of past problems, giving them concrete examples (2:10–17).
     The questions were designed to get the people to think. The first question had to do with the person who carried a holy offering. If that person brushed his garment against an object, will the object become holy? The priests pondered and said, “No.” This is because holiness cannot pass to other things or even to other people. Holiness is embodied in Christ. It cannot be separated from Him. The only way holiness comes to us is by receiving Him by faith.
     The second question through Haggai is: “If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?” The priests answered, “It shall be unclean” (verse 13).
     God was illustrating the spiritual condition of His people. They did not believe. They were unrepentant. They were dead in sin; so everything they did was contaminated. They were unclean because of the deadness of their hearts and minds (verse 14). Haggai applied this principle to the people. He told them that their sinful ways contaminated their consecrated offerings to God, resulting in crop failures, famine, and all the rest of the calamities that befell them. (verses 14-17). The lesson for all time is this: work and worship do not sanctify sinning, but sinning always contaminates work and worship.
    The good report is that head, heart and hands responded to God’s call through Haggai. The people repented, believed and began building with their hands. And so, from the laying of the foundation of the temple, God promised to abundantly bless them (2:18,19). 
As mentioned above, throughout this lesson, questions are asked, such as: “Do you see any warning here for us?” “How can we learn to better appreciate the importance of the sanctuary message in the plan of salvation?” “Why is [Old Testament prophecy] so relevant for Christians even today?”  Is the message about building literal “temples,” church buildings, or could His message for us concern another “temple”—the heart, corporately and individually.  A wise author said that the “Lord used Haggai to stir the people’s hearts toward God’s concerns.” 
We are God’s concern.  And, Paul says that we are His temple.  So, the temple God is trying to restore is His dwelling place in us.  We read from Peter: “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1Pet 2:4) What is another name for a “spiritual house”? A sanctuary! “You also, like living stones, are being built into a sanctuary…” Ellen White elaborates on this subject,
The Jewish Temple was built of hewn stones quarried out of the mountains, and every stone was fitted for its place in the Temple, hewed, polished and tested, before it was brought to Jerusalem. And when all were brought to the ground, the building went together without the sound of an ax or hammer. This building represents God's spiritual temple, which is composed of material gathered out of every nation and tongue and people, of all grades, high and low, rich and poor, learned and ignorant.  These are not dead substances, to be fitted by hammer and chisel. They are living stones quarried out from the world by the truth, and the great Master Builder, the Lord of the temple, is now hewing and polishing them and fitting them for their respective places in the spiritual temple. When completed, this temple will be perfect in all its parts, the admiration of angels and of men, for its builder and maker is God. Truly, those who are to compose this glorious building are "called to be saints." {TMK 151.5}
So, God has formed every man for His own dwelling place, and implanted in every soul desires that can only be satisfied by the fullness of God dwelling within, Christ is truly “the Desire of all nations” (Haggai 2:7), who was to come and who would fill this second temple with the presence of heaven (2:7). That heavenly presence is the very righteousness of God, for salvation, and comes to the fallen race through the faith of Jesus (Rom 3:22, KJV), the Desire of All Nations. At His second coming, Jesus will still be “the Desire of All Nations,” but because of the desire for, and the cultivation of, sin by the lost, the desire for heaven’s righteousness will be destroyed in the hearts of the lost. They will despise and hate “the Desire of All Nations,” who is the Desire of All Ages, before He comes to claim His own.
Just as people did not like the second temple that was built in Haggai’s day; just as Herod despised the Desire of Nations and attempted to kill Him when Jesus was born into the human family; so the lost at the end of days will make war against Christ and His faithful followers (Rev 17:14). But the lost will lose that war. The cause of the lost will be traced to their unremitting resistance to the Holy Spirit as He brings to them “the Desire of All Nations.”
I want to end this study by quoting from the Preface of The Desire of Ages, let us read some excerpts:
   “ In the hearts of all mankind, of whatever race or station in life, there are inexpressible longings for something they do not now possess. This longing is implanted in the very constitution of man by a merciful God, that man may not be satisfied with his present conditions or attainments, whether bad or good or better. God desires that the human shall seek the best, and find it to the eternal blessing of his soul…
     It is God’s design that this longing of the human heart should lead to the one whom alone is able to satisfy it. The desire is of him that it may lead to him, the fullness and fulfillment of that desire. That fullness is found in Jesus the Christ, the Son of the eternal God. “For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fullness dwell;” “for in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” And it is also true that “in him ye are made full” with respect to every desire divinely implanted and normally followed.
    Haggai calls him “the Desire of All Nations,” and we may well call him “the Desire of All Ages,” even as he is “the King of Ages.”…
   It is the purpose of this book to set forth Jesus as the one in whom every longing may be satisfied.”

Is Jesus the Desire of your heart?

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