The effects of God’s universal judgment (verses 2, 3) upon Judah and Jerusalem are described in detail (verses 4-13). The chapter ends with a terrifying picture of the day of the Lord (verses 14-18).
- On whom particularly will God’s judgment fall according to this chapter, and why? Can you think of any modern counterparts to the sinful actions described?
- Having considered the reasons for judgment, now ponder the accompaniments of the day of the Lord in verses 14-18. What can we learn from this about God’s view of sin? Cf. Prov. 11:4; Ezek. 7:19.
- Verse 4. To ‘cut off… the names of’ means to ‘obliterate the memory of’.
- Verse 5. ‘Molech’: a foreign deity of this or similar name was worshiped in several of the countries surrounding Judah.
- Verse 12. ‘Like wine left on its dregs’: cf. Jer. 48:11. This picture, taken from the wine-trade, refers to the sedimentation of wine. The idle, stagnant, muddy-minded men in Jerusalem, who thought that they could settle down in their godless indifference, will be punished.
- What phrases are used to describe the nations over whom judgment is impending? See 2:1, 10, 15. What was especially sinful about Nineveh’s attitude (2:15; cf. Is. 47:6-11), and has it a modern counterpart? What qualities does God look for in those who desire his help (2:3)?
- ‘Sheltered on the day of the day of the Lord’s anger’ (2:3). Is there such a hiding place? Cf. Jer. 23:24; Amos 9:3; Rev. 6:15-17; Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10.
- The indictment against Jerusalem is the most grievous of all (3:1-7). Cf. Luke 12:47, 48. List the evils found in her, and consider especially how they were sins against the Lord.
- 2:1. ‘Gather together … ‘: i.e., in solemn assembly to seek the Lord.
- 2:13-15. No man alive at the time had known anything but the greatness and glory of Assyria. So these words would have had an astonishing impact.
- 3:5-7. The Lord’s faithfulness in judgment on their enemies is matched by the shamelessness of his people. They ignored the lessons he was seeking to teach them.
- Throughout this passage the Lord is seen acting. What is he pictured as doing? How many of these actions were, or can now be, fulfilled in Christ? Are there some that still await fulfillment, and, if so, why?
- Consider the character of the remnant that the Lord leaves (verses 12, 13). Compare 2:3; and contrast 2:1; 3:1, 2. Does 3:17 suggest a reason for this change of character? How is it brought about? Cf. 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:24.
Verses 9, 12. To ‘seek refuge in the name of the Lord’ (RSV) is an expressive figure for trust in the Lord’s revealed character. Truly to call him ‘Lord’ means to acknowledge him as such, and to give him the service that is due. Cf. 1 Pet. 3:6a.
- How did the Jews of Haggai’s day order their Priorities? What was the consequence? And what was the Lord’s command? What lesson did God wish them to learn? Is there a present-day application? Cf. Matt. 6:33.
- How had the people failed to live up to the purpose for which they had been allowed to return? Cf. Ezra 1:2-4. Contrast their first beginnings with the conditions described by Haggai. Is this at all your experience? Cf. Rev. 2:4. What happened once they obeyed God’s voice?
Note. Verse 1. ‘The sixth month’: corresponding to our August-September.
- Picture the desolate scene and the despondency of the people (verse 3). But how did the prospect appear to Haggai’s eye of faith (verses 4-9)? On what grounds did he reassure them, and to what vision did he direct their eyes?
- Verses 10-19. How does Haggai show that: (a) in the sanctified life contact with unholy things must be avoided, and that (b) mere contact with holy things is not sufficient? Is it possible to deceive ourselves today, as the Jews of Haggai’s day did? Cf. 2 Tim. 2:19-22.
- What will be the fate of all human activity and organization carried out without God, and what is the work that will stand, whose doers are blessed from the day they set their hand to it? Cf. 1 John 2:17. Why would Zerubbabel be safe when the Lord would shake the heavens and the earth?
Note. Verse 23. ‘Like a signet ring’: a symbol of honour and authority. Cf. Jer. 22:24.