- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Habakkuk prays that God will show himself once again as long ago (verses 1, 2), and then describes a vision of God coming to deliver his people. Past, present and future are intermingled. God’s self-revelation in the past at Sinai, at the Red Sea, and at the entrance of Canaan are pictured under the image of a thunderstorm rolling up from the south and breaking upon Palestine. The same ‘Holy One’ is at work also in the present, and the tumults of the nations are the tokens that he has come in judgment to work salvation for his people.
- Habakkuk considered God’s working in the past with longing and fear (verses 1, 2).
Do we know such longing? Cf. Pss. 85:6; 143:5, 6; Is. 64:1-3.
Why was he afraid?
Cf. Heb. 12:21, 28, 29.
- The poetry describes political upheavals. Cf. Is. 29:5-8. Yet the poetry also is full of God’s acts.
How does this vision teach us to regard the world-happenings of our own day?
What is God’s purpose through them?
Cf. Ps. 74:12; Luke 21:25-28.
- What two effects did the vision have on Habakkuk? With verse 16, cf. Dan. 10:8; Rev. 1:17.
With verses 17, 18, cf. Ps. 73:25, 26; Phil. 4:11-13.
Are we as sensitive as Habakkuk was to the glory and the faithfulness of the God with whom, by grace, we have to do?
- What three things did God – trusted and rejoiced in – do for the prophet?
Cf. Ps. 18:32, 39; Zech. 4:6; Is. 40:31.
Which of these do you particularly need God to do for you?
- Verse 3. ‘Teman’, ‘Mount Paran’: i.e., the region of Sinai.
- Verse 4. Allusions to lightning and thick clouds.
- Verse 8. The answer is found in verses 13-15.