Same-Sex Marriage Resources for Churches and Pastors

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Since the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage, I’ve been trying to gather as many helpful resources as I can find for churches and pastors. I’ve gathered these to share with the pastors of the Union Association of Baptists where I serve as Director of Missions, but I realize that other pastors and churches would find these useful as well. Please feel free to share these with other pastors and churches who will benefit from this information.

PREPARING AND PROTECTING THE CHURCH

http://stephencraigrice.com/2015/06/30/4-steps-churches-pastors-take/

http://erlc.com/article/what-your-church-needs-to-knowand-doabout-the-courts-marriage-ruling

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Protecting_Your_Ministry_ADF_ERLC.pdf

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/KBC.Sample-Church-Wedding-Policy.pdf

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Church-Wedding-Policy.Cornerstrone.pdf

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Wedding-Policy.pdf

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Facility-Use-Policy.Alliance-Defending-Freedom.pdf

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/KBC.Sample-Membership-Policy.pdf

PARENTING AND GAY MARRIAGE

http://cbmw.org/public-square/parenting-in-a-gay-marriage-world-what-should-christians-parents-do/

http://www.russellmoore.com/2015/06/29/how-should-you-talk-to-your-children-about-same-sex-marriage/

INFORMATION ABOUT THE SUPREME COURT RULING

http://erlc.com/article/50-key-quotes-from-the-supreme-courts-same-sex-marriage-ruling

http://erlc.com/article/explainer-what-you-should-know-about-the-supreme-court-same-sex-marriage-ru

ANSWERING THE GAY MARRIAGE ARGUMENTS

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/What-You-Need-To-Know-About-Marriage-Booklet.pdf

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Addressing_Gay_Marriage_Arguments.pdf

http://www.kybaptist.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Why_Marriage_Matters.pdf

http://www.sbts.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2010/09/homosexuality-and-the-bible.pdf

http://www.sbts.edu/god-and-the-gay-christian/

MISCELLANEOUS

http://www.kybaptist.org/protecting-biblical-marriage/

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Proceed With Conviction: Same-Sex Marriage in the USA

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b599a34c0d512e42e3f5277e172bbebcd745dd98This weekend, Americans will celebrate Independence Day. For many of us however, our celebration is darkened by the shadow of the Supreme Court ruling that redefined marriage for every American this past Friday. News like this tends to affect us in two ways: first we have an emotional response of anger, sadness, or shock. Secondly we have a sense of duty to do something; a feeling that we need to respond somehow. I think it is helpful for Christians first to zoom out and get an appropriate, wide-scope, biblical vision to give us perspective. Then in light of that we need to define specifically what our reaction should be and how we will proceed going forward.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IS A VIOLATION OF GOD’S DESIGN

We need to first acknowledge that legalization of same-sex marriage is a multi-layered, sinful decision. It is sinful because it accepts as good something God has declared to be sin. The Scripture is clear that homosexuality is sinful behavior (Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10). In addition to plain statements of prohibition, there are many other negative examples, such as the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 13:13; 19:1-38).

Not only does the legalization of same-sex marriage normalize sin, it elevates it to the sacred dimension of matrimony, thus polluting and diminishing the social concept of marriage. Marriage is a lifetime commitment between one man and one woman that is patterned after the relationship of Christ and his church (Eph. 5:22-33).

Same-sex marriage also destroys the biblical structure of family. Children should be raised by a masculine father and a feminine mother who model proper gender roles and adult behavior. Even the fertilization of an egg requires sexual complementarity. As Christians, we must acknowledge the sinful nature of same-sex marriage.

HOW SHOULD WE PROCEED?

Affirm God’s sovereignty in heaven and earth. This decision did not catch God off guard. He may very well be using this situation to purify His church and to rekindle our devotion to Him.

Pray for our nation’s leaders, the church, and the lost. We should pray for those who lead our nation as they make decisions that set the course for the nation. We should pray that God would grant wisdom to the church in these difficult days as well as courage to continue the work of the Great Commission. Of course, we pray for those who do not know Christ that they will be turned from darkness to light.

Speak with prophetic voice concerning national sin. While we learn how to best engage the culture over these tough issues, let us always speak the truth of God concerning sin. The call of salvation is a call to repentance. We must speak truth in the midst of a sea of lies.

Model the gospel in our marriages and families. Too long we have preached against homosexuality without removing the log from our own eyes. Let us sanctify our homes and marriages to reflect the glory of God. We are living in a day when simply living in biblical, covenant marriage will be a radical testimony to the gospel. Let’s faithfully represent Christ and the Church.

Recommit ourselves to the Great Commission. The church’s mission is not political activism, but global evangelism. The gospel doesn’t work from top down, it works from bottom up. We are to be making disciples of Jesus Christ. This is how we bring about the reign of God on this side of the second coming.

Prepare to minister to refugees of the sexual revolution. There are going to be people hurt from the fallout of same-sex marriages and the church needs to be wise enough to prepare to receive them. There will be people connected to families in our churches who will obtain same-sex marriages. We need to be ready to confront with the gospel and minister faithfully.

Live in anticipation for God’s coming kingdom. We should not panic. Jesus is coming and this moment in time is just another tick on the clock that brings us closer to his appearing. Live as though God is completely in control and is bringing history to its appropriate end – because this is exactly what He is doing.

HELPFUL LINKS

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/06/26/why-the-church-should-neither-cave-nor-panic-about-the-decision-on-gay-marriage/

http://erlc.com/erlc/scotus

http://www.kybaptist.org/protecting-biblical-marriage/

http://cbmw.org/public-square/parenting-in-a-gay-marriage-world-what-should-christians-parents-do/

Sermon Video – “Slaves” Romans 6:15-23

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This is a sermon I preached at Reed Springs Baptist Church Sunday morning, May 18, 2014. My sermon title is “Slaves” and my sermon text is Romans 6:15-23. Here is the sermon outline:

“Slaves” Romans 6:15-23

1. We are slaves to whom we obey (vs. 15-16)

• Slave — doulos — completely controlled by someone.
• Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters”

2. Slaves of sin or slaves of God (vs. 17-19)

• 1 Corinthians 6:9 “…the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God…”

3. The wages of sin or the gift of God (vs. 20-23)

• Slavery to sin leads to more and more sin and death
• Slavery to God leads to sanctification and eternal life

How God Gave Us The Bible

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000000019How can the Bible be God’s Word if it was written by human authors? This is a common question that arises when discussing the supernatural origin of the Bible. It is true that the Bible was written across 1600 years of human history by more than 40 human authors. How can it still be written by God? Paul tells Timothy that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). “Inspiration” is the Greek word theopnuestos which literally means “God-breathed.” Jesus corroborates this when he said that we live by “…every word that comes from the mouth of God’ ” (Matthew 4:4). The men who wrote the books of the Bible wrote under divine inspiration and the end result is the words of both the human author and of God.

There are differing theories of how God inspired the biblical authors. Most conservative, evangelical Christians believe in what is call “verbal plenary inspiration.” The word verbal  affirms that the very words the writers chose are inspired. For example, in Acts 1:16 the Apostle Peter says “the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake” (KJV). The word  plenary means “full” or “complete” meaning that God inspired the complete text of the Bible, including historical, scientific, and doctrinal details. This concept of how God inspired the Bible is seen in Peter’s words, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21, ESV). Although men put the pen to paper, the things they wrote did not originate in their brains, but in the heart of God. God inspired the writers, they transmitted the message.

Some of the authors might not have realized at the time that they were writing the words of God. However, many did know this. Gordon R. Lewis writes, “Over 3,000 times biblical writers claimed to have received their messages from God. God the Holy Spirit “inspired” (breathed out or originated) the Scriptures through the human writers (2 Tm 3:16).God prepared these conscious, active prophetic and apostolic spokesmen (and their secretaries) providentially by their heredity, character, vocabularies, and writing styles. At the appropriate time, in all the processes of writing, they were “moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pt 1:21).” [1]

The Holy Spirit guided the human authors while allowing their individual personality, knowledge, and vocabulary to produce the books of the Bible. The end result is the very Word of God communicated through the medium of human writers. This view recognizes both the human and divine aspect of Scripture.

 

[1] Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (1812). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

Why God Gave Us The Bible

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big_ten_std_t_nt“All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). These words were written by Paul the apostle to a young pastor named Timothy. Paul is instructing him to be faithful to what God has revealed in the scriptures in the face of opposition and pressure from others who have abandoned the Word of God. How did these Scriptures come to be, and why was it necessary for God to reveal Himself through written words? The answer is as old as time…

In the original design of creation, man had fellowship with God in Eden. That fellowship was lost in the Fall and all humanity was separated from God in that one act. All Adam’s descendants are born estranged from God, aliens to truth and righteousness and in such a sinful state that we only rebel against God. Even when men try to worship what they think God is, the result is false religion, paganism, polytheism, and creature worship. We are often convinced from creation and conscience that God exists, but we cannot know Him on our own.

From Adam till Moses, humanity continues to sin, die, and live in separation from God. Paul says that during the time from Adam to Moses “death reigned.”“Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses…” (Romans 5:14 KJV). There is no written revelation from God to show what God expects of humanity and people are left to grope in the darkness and to die in their sins. Everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes and is in bondage to sin and enslaved to death.

During this time, God revealed Himself personally to individuals as He chose. God revealed Himself to Abel, Seth, Enosh, Enoch, Noah, Job, Abraham, Melchizedek, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and others. The faith of these individuals was based on their personal experiences with God. They had no Bible, no law to guide them; only their own consciences and personal revelation from God and perhaps, oral traditions passed down about God.

But in Moses’ lifetime (approx. 1500 BC) something very important changed. God began to break the reign of death by providing mankind with His written Word. God wrote His law on tablets of stone, delivered them to Moses who gave them to Israel. Moses would record all of God’s laws and ordinances for Israel, ultimately writing the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch. For the first time in human history, God had given His holy, inspired, written, indisputable Word to humanity. God would continue to inspire men to write Scripture from this point forward until about 400 years before Christ. Malachi was the last prophet to write under the inspiration of God in the Old Testament. It is believed that Ezra the scribe was the first to formally organize the Old Testament canon as we have it.

After 400 years of silence from God, God started speaking again. He began speaking through John the Baptist, continued through Jesus Christ who is the supreme revelation from God. He is called the Word of God (John 1:1-3). After Jesus’ ascension, the church began growing and men began writing. The four gospels tell of Jesus’ life and ministry, Acts gives the history of the early church, while the epistles contain the inspired teaching of the prophets and apostles of the New Testament. The final contribution to the New Testament canon is the Revelation, or Apocalypse of Jesus Christ penned by the Apostle John. With the completion of this book in 94-96 AD, God again ceased speaking written revelation. The Bible is complete.

The reason God inspired men to write the books of the Bible was to perfectly reveal Himself to us and provide a means of redemption and reconciliation through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Bible makes this great plan of redemption known and tells us how we can be reconciled with God. Without the Bible, we would have no message to share with the world, and we would have no hope ourselves because the only reason we are saved is because we have believed what God says about Jesus. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). God’s revelation of Himself through the Bible is His way of reconciling fallen, sinful humanity to Himself based on the redemptive work of Christ.

Three Views on The Book of Revelation

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ImageThe book of Revelation has been the source of much biblical debate. Even among Christians, it is difficult to come to an agreement about certain issues concerning this apocalyptic book of the Bible. Written toward the end of the first century AD by John the apostle, Revelation is the last book of the Bible and reveals events yet to come culminating in the return of Christ. The first three chapters aren’t so difficult to interpret. They are comprised of seven straightforward messages from Christ to the seven churches in Asia Minor. Chapters four through twenty-two, however, are a different matter altogether. There are three major positions where interpretation of this book is concerned. I will briefly outline each of them.

The preterist position, also known as the contemporary historical position, sees the events of the book of Revelation as historical events that occurred in the first century AD. The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the fall of Rome, and the Roman persecution of Christians are important components in this view and are seen as the subject of much of the destructive prophecies in Revelation.

The idealist position is a timeless, symbolic approach to the book of Revelation. This view says that the visions in Revelation do not depict actual events that happen in a specific place or time, but portrays symbolically the timeless, spiritual battle between good and evil. This battle culminates in the defeat of Satan and the victory of Christ. This view interprets the 1,000 years in 20:2-7 as symbolic of the spiritual reign of believers with Christ.

The futurist approach maintains that the events of chapters 4-22 of Revelation depict future events. This view interprets the 1,000 years in 20:2-7 as a literal period of time in the future. This is consistent with the book’s claim to foretell future events (1:19). There are very many varying interpretations even among futurists, but all agree that the events contained in John’s visions are to be fulfilled in the future. I plan to talk more about the various futurist views in a later post.

This leaves us asking “which view is correct?” A preterist approach would only be beneficial when studying church history or the persecution of the first century church. It would yield little benefit to today’s readers. The idealist position has some merit, but vastly ignores the plainly indicated future nature of the prophecies. The visions of Revelation are meant to be understood as specific prophecies fulfilled in space and time.

The futurist position is the only position that fairly understands and interprets the text along with other prophetic passages in the Bible and is the only one to provide real spiritual merit for the believer. The futurist position allows the book of Revelation to be applicable to believers of any era and gives great hope that Christ will overcome all the power of Satan. While there are many different futurist interpretations of Revelation, and I cannot discuss them here in detail, this perspective is the best and most natural understanding of the book in my evaluation.

Believing in Jesus

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That Jesus is an actual historical person cannot be overemphasized. His life, ministry, and execution are well-documented historical facts. Even his miracles are spoken of in historical writings outside the Bible.
When we talk about placing faith in Jesus, we are talking about placing faith in him for forgiveness and salvation, but we are also talking about believing the facts about him. He was a lower-class Jewish man who would have been called Yeshua, or Iesous to Greek-speaking individuals. He was born approximately 4 BC in Bethlehem to a young woman who was a biological descendant of David, the warrior-king of Israel. He was raised in Nazareth by Mary his mother, and Joseph his adoptive father. He learned the carpenter’s trade from Joseph and lived in obscurity for most of his life. Jesus (Yeshua) was an actual person. He most likely would have had a favorite food, a unique personality, and a circle of personal friends growing up. Jesus (Yeshua) was a person who existed on earth and left his footprints wherever he went. At the approximate age of 30, Jesus (Yeshua) was baptized by an eccentric prophet/preacher named John and subsequently began a preaching and miracle ministry that lasted over three years. He acquired many followers, most famously, the twelve disciples, eleven of whom would continue Jesus’ ministry after his death. Jesus’ ministry was brought to a sudden end when he was arrested during the Jewish Passover week in Jerusalem. He was convicted of blasphemy and executed by Roman crucifixion, perhaps the cruelest means of execution ever devised.

 

In addition to these facts, the Christian Gospel maintains the following to be equally true based on the witness recorded in the New Testament by eyewitnesses and Jesus’ own personal testimony recorded in the four Gospels. Jesus’ lack of a biological father on earth is due to the fact that he is the Son of God. His mother was a virgin when she conceived and when she bore Jesus. Jesus (Yeshua) fulfilled many ancient prophecies from the Old Testament and is in fact the foretold Jewish Messiah. Jesus had existed for eternity before being born in Bethlehem for he was and is God. Jesus is God, specifically the second person of the Trinity. His biological link to David through Mary is not incidental as he was of Davidic descent by divine direction and design, his lineage being before promised in the Old Testament writings. Jesus’ death was and is a vicarious atonement for the human race, particularly the elect – those who respond to the Gospel and are saved. Jesus was raised from the dead three days after his crucifixion. This resurrection was testament to his identity as the Son of God, the sinless one. The body of Jesus was glorified, that is, repaired from its damage and restored from any curse of sin. His body was raised eternal and glorious, that is, it is similar in appearance to a normal human body, but is of a supernatural and eternal quality. It is with this body that Jesus ascended back to heaven and is soon returning bodily to reign over creation as the King over all kings and Lord over all lords. Through Jesus’ incarnation as a man, his death, and his resurrection; God became man. God is now both God and man and will be so for all eternity. It is through this “adoption” of the human nature by God, that God and men will be able to fellowship throughout eternity.
This is Jesus as the Bible presents him. This is what all true Christians confess about Jesus Christ. I pray this is your confession as well.

The Sermon We’ve All Been Dreading

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It’s Sunday morning. You eat breakfast, get ready, and go to church. You are excited. The music is great. You open your bulletin and underline a few upcoming events you are interested in. You place your offering in the plate and then… “open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians chapter 5…” How do you respond? With excitement? Joy? Anxiety? Fear? Dread? I have heard from more than one Christian that they always “got more out of” the singing part of service than the preaching. This is not reflective of the words of Peter, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). What is it about preaching that is off-putting and sometimes dreadful even to professing Christians?

I don’t think that all people feel this way all the time. I know of several Christians who love to hear a sermon preached. I have dear saints in my church that regularly tell me they enjoy my preaching, and I believe they are sincere. I think it has mostly to do with the condition of the hearer’s heart. Jesus told the religious leaders in Jerusalem, “Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word” (John 8:43, ESV). Jesus’ audience in this instance could not bear to hear Jesus’ words because they were unsaved. Their hearts were dead to God and His Word. I think this is true in many cases today. When we see people that have a fearful aversion to the Word of God and preaching, it should alarm us because the true sheep hear the voice of the shepherd (John 10:25-27).
It is understandable that those who aren’t Christians feel this way toward the Bible, but why do professing Christians sometimes distance themselves from God’s Word and God’s preachers? I think this is due to our fallen, sinful nature. It isn’t so much that every sermon is a scathing rebuke of our lifestyle, as it is we fear the scouring presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We know that the message of God uncovers sin and calls us to respond with repentance. When the preacher opens his mouth to speak, we sometimes cringe knowing that we are exposing ourselves to the sharp, double-bladed sword of Truth. Even a born-again believer who is not in the will of God, can at times dread a powerful sermon, but this should not be the normal attitude of a Christian. A true believer should be eager to hear God’s Word, and not take a defensive or fearful attitude towards it. Before we head to church Sunday, let’s prepare our hearts to receive God’s Word so we can say with the psalmist: How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103, ESV). 

The Truth of the Gospel: 1 Timothy 1:1-20

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We live in an age where the truth of the Gospel is constantly challenged. The exclusive nature of the Gospel and the righteous commands of God make our message unpalatable to most. As a result, a more agreeable alternative to biblical Christianity is often sought. This is nothing new. Paul constantly countered the arguments of false teachers during his ministry. Timothy was a young pastor who Paul had placed at Ephesus to lead the church and to deal with problems emerging there (vs. 3). In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he charges him to teach the truth and prevent false teachings from invading the church.
Paul says many at Ephesus had turned from the truth to empty debates brought on by false teaching (vs. 5-7). These individuals wanted to become teachers of the law like Jewish rabbis, but didn’t even understand what they claim to believe. Their teaching consisted of myths and genealogies loosely based on elements of Judaism (vs. 3, 4). The end result was a legalistic heresy that offered salvation by works. While the law serves a legitimate purpose in the New Testament, it is not a means of salvation. We are saved by God’s grace, not our works (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Paul tells Timothy to guard against this teaching because it is powerless to transform lives or produce genuine faith (vs. 4, 6).
Unlike the empty message of the false teachers, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has life-changing power. Paul is an example of radical Christian conversion. He had been a “blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man.” His life prior to Christ was committed to defending Judaism and destroying Christianity (Philippians 3:4-6), but God had chosen him to be a minister of the Gospel (Acts 9:15). Paul’s conversion perfectly demonstrates the authentic change that takes place through salvation, “he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Jesus extends mercy to the worst of sinners and transforms them into trophies of God’s grace. In verse fifteen, Paul encapsulates the mission of Christ in a short statement, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” The integrity of the Gospel is eternally important because it is only through Jesus that we can be saved and transformed (Acts 4:12).
Paul illustrates and explains the “shipwreck” of apostasy with the story of two Christian teachers who fell into heresy: Hymenaeus and Alexander. Paul says the cause of their error was their abandonment of “faith and a good conscience” (vs. 19). They began as superficially convincing Christians, but ended up with a doubting heart and a dirty conscience. They failed to believe the Gospel and they failed to obey the Gospel. Rather than change their lives to align with the truth, they modified the message to fit their lives. The result was poisonous and they were excommunicated in order to preserve the unity and integrity of the church (vs. 20). Paul uses this tragic example to demonstrate that faith and a good conscience are indispensable traits for the Christian.
There are opponents to the Gospel who would do away with it entirely. Then, there are those who would like to take the more agreeable points of Christianity, but leave out the more controversial elements. The problem with that approach is that a partial Gospel is a powerless Gospel. From the garden of Eden to the garden tomb; from creation ex nihilo to the consummation of the age, there is not one element of the Gospel that is dispensable. This is why we must “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3) and “fight the good fight” in the face of opposition and false teachers (vs. 18). We must disregard the sinister suggestions of the slithering serpent, and echo the words Jesus prayed only hours before his crucifixion, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). 
This post was originally published in the Baptist & Reflector, January 29, 2013.

Haggai: A Message of Hope

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            Haggai brings a welcome message of hope during a time of judgment and despair. The timing of his prophecy is clearly established in his writings (1:1; 2:1; 2:10; 2:20), and took place in the year 520 BC. Haggai had probably returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel and about 50,000 other Israelites eighteen years earlier (538 BC) when King Cyrus of Persia made the proclamation that the Jews could return to their homeland. The temple had not been rebuilt in Haggai’s day, and the prevailing opinion was that it was not time to rebuild it. God called Haggai and his contemporary, Zechariah, to tell the Israelites that it was time and they should rebuild the temple. The temple was finished four years later in 516 BC.
            The Jews had begun to rebuild the temple in 536 BC, but abandoned the work because of opposition from enemies. Sixteen years later, Haggai’s prophecy rebukes the Israelites’ disobedience. Haggai brings his message to Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest, the civil and spiritual leaders of the people. Haggai tells them that God says it is wrong for the people to live in beautiful homes paneled with cedar while God’s house lies in ruins (1:4). God further states that the reason the people had been experiencing economic and agricultural difficulty is because of their failure to build the temple (vs. 5-11). God says that the only way to end their problems is by obeying Him and building the temple. In the words of Jesus, they needed to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33). Twenty-three days later, the people respond with obedience and begin building again (vs. 12-15).
            As the people began to rebuild the temple, it became apparent to those who remembered Solomon’s temple that this one was inferior in comparison (2:3). Solomon’s temple was a magnificent building furnished with precious metals, cedar, and hewn stone. Haggai comforts the people, telling them that the Lord is with them now just as He was during the Exodus (vs. 4, 5). God wants his people to celebrate His presence among them rather than focus on their lack of wealth. After all, God is the possessor of all things, including the wealth of the nations (vs. 8).
            Haggai’s message then turns to the future. God promises that he will “shake the heavens and the earth” and “all nations (vs. 6, 7)” and “overturn royal thrones and destroy the power of the Gentile kingdom” (vs. 22). This prophecy looks forward to the Day of the Lord when God judges creation and conquers the nations (Luke 21:25-27; Joel 2:30-32). God says that after this series of events, He will fill the temple with wealth and the final glory of the temple will be greater than the first (vs. 8, 9). God always saves the best for last, and this is true with this passage.
The prophecy ends with God’s election of Zerubbabel as His servant. God says he will be like His signet ring; an emblem of royal power and authority. Zerubbabel was a descendant of David, and was the legal heir to the throne. The Davidic dynasty had continued unbroken until the Babylonian exile where it ended with Jehoiachin (Jeremiah 22:24). God chose to reestablish the royal lineage with Zerubbabel and it would continue through the silent years until it ended with Christ (Matt. 1:12-16).
Israel was living in the aftermath of the exile in Babylon and they were only a remnant of the nation they had been. However, God promised them a new temple, His presence, victory over their enemies, and the coming of the Messiah. Haggai’s message is simple; God offers us a future, even in the midst of judgment. It is not time to give up; it is time to repent, rebuild and receive God’s promises.
This post was originally published in the Baptist & Reflector, January 22, 2013.