“Consider Your Ways"
A Message to Encourage
By Henry Jaegers
The books of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi were three of the minor prophets considered post- captivity prophecies because their messages were given shortly after Israel left Babylon to begin a new life. The prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah was given at the time, found listed in Ezra chapter 5 when Israel stopped in their pursuit of building the temple (the period being sixteen years). The prophet Haggai was different from that of Zechariah, but they were both used by God to motivate the people to begin and complete the building of the temple. Haggai presented a word of encouragement and Zechariah presented a message of hope.
Since these prophecies took place prior to the events written in the book of Nehemiah and before Ezra arrived in Jerusalem, it is significant that we place them in conjunction with the book of Ezra.
Although the book of Haggai presents a lot of interesting material for preachers who are looking for a reason to bring conviction on the hearers, it was not meant for that purpose. God meant the message of Haggai not for blasting but for blessing through a message of encouragement.
The book consists of four different periods of time, shortly following each which were progressive in nature. That means they were meant to lead the people out of their discouragement but in so doing, it dealt with the various problems that most people face when facing circumstances less than ideal. The words "Consider your ways", and "be strong and work", are the keywords found in this book that result in Israel finishing the work that God purposed for them to do.
The book of Haggai gives encouragement to the various reasons that people give for lack of progress when the work seems to be impossible. But the words of encouragement from God have met their mark and accomplished the purpose for which they were sent. The result was the completion in the building of the temple. It was not easy, and it took a long period of time, but with the help of Haggai and Zechariah, along with the promises of God, they toiled on through difficulty and accomplished the work of God.
1. In Ezra 4:1-5, Discuss the strategies used by Satan that caused Israel to stop building the temple.
2. In Ezra 4:3, discuss the leadership exercised by Zerubbabel and Joshua to these enemies of God. What examples of good leadership did they display?
3. In Haggai 1:1, consider the time of this first prophecy sent by God through Haggai. What problem does he address? What false ideas did they entertain?
4. What are some of the things the prophet called upon them to consider? What principles did they violate by using these excuses?
5. In verses 5 and 6, what consequences were they facing because of their action?
6. In verse 5-14, discuss the consequences of their decisions, the steps of action, along with the promise of God and the results that occurred. Noticed the time in verse 15 when this was done.
7. In chapter 2:1 -9, consider the timing of the second message and discuss how further encouragement was given.
8: In verses 2-19, once again, consider the timing of this third message and what they are further told to consider?
9. In verses 20-23, we have the final message given. What word of hope is discussed in these verses?
10. In 1:13, 2:4, 2:9, 2:19, and 2:23, discuss the words of exhortation God has given to encourage them to be faithful in doing the will of God.