Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December 20- Just Do It!

December 20, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Haggai 1:1-2:23; Revelation 11:1-19
Psalm 139:1-24; Proverbs 30:15-16

How soon 'not now' becomes 'never'. ~Martin Luther

Haggai 1:1-2:23

Are you a procrastinator? Procrastination is a strange thing. People who procrastinate will get busy doing lots of stuff in order to avoid doing the one thing they are supposed to do. Instead of procrastination being inactivity resulting in something being put off, it is often activity resulting in something being put off until a later time. As we begin to read the prophet Haggai, we see that the remnant of Israelites, who have returned after seventy years of captivity in Babylon, are procrastinating in rebuilding the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem.

Chapter 1-First Message: Just Do It

The first message that Haggai receives is a message that the Lord realizes that the people are saying that it is not the time to rebuild the Temple. God confronts them that they are living in beautiful houses, but His house is in ruins. The remnant is not being blessed in the land because they are not being obedient in rebuilding God's Temple.

Remnant's Response:

The governor, priests, and people respond in obedience to the message from God. They worship God in earnest and God sparks the enthusiasm of their leader, Zerubbabel, who was the governor to lead the people in this work.

 Chapter 2-Second Message:  If You Build It, They Will Come...Future Temple and Hope

God responds to the remnant's obedience by giving further words of encouragement.  This word has to do with the future time in Israel.  God takes them forward to the Great Tribulation on earth.  A time when He will shake the heavens and the earth.  He will shake the oceans and the dry land, too. He is going to shake the nations and all of the treasures of those nations will come to this future Temple.  God will fill this place with His glory.  The future glory of the Temple will exceed the past glory of God's Temple.  God will finally bring peace to this place.  God has spoken! (There is a theme in Scripture of God's spoken word creating reality.  This occurs from Genesis forward.)

Third Message: The Nature Of Holiness

The questions that God asks of the priests are designed to get them to realize that a person cannot become holy by brushing up against the Law. But a person can become unholy by breaking the Law.  People must turn to God for holiness and blessing. Faith in God and obedience makes one holy.

Fourth Message: God's Promised Judgment

God is going to judge the earth. He is going to overthrow royal thrones, destroy foreign kingdoms, and defeat them militarily. Zerubbabel will be remembered by God with honor for his obedience in rebuilding the foundations of the Temple as God commanded.

The Temple is a central symbol for the Jews in their relationship with God. This rebuilding is symbolic of their mutual faith in doing the work of God on earth and in heaven.  The Jews will always be tied to the Temple of God. The Church, on the other hand, is taught that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Church is not tied to the physical Temple.

Are you obedient to what God requires of you?

Revelation 11:1-19

Well isn't this convenient!  We are whisked into the future in this vision and the first thing we see is God's rebuilt Temple of the future.  John is even told to measure it.  Whenever God tells someone to measure things, we are dealing with the nation of Israel. The Church is never told to measure things. This portion is for the nation of Israel. This is the premise for God showing John that the Gentiles have been given authority by God to trample down the nation of Israel for 3 1/2 years during this part of the Great Tribulation.  After these 3 1/2 years, the "times of the Gentiles" that we have been experiencing will end.

As part of this last times of the Gentiles, God sends two witnesses to earth.  Many people have speculated who these two witnesses might be.  Some say they are Elijah and Moses.  Others think it is Elijah and Enoch.  Some say it is Elijah and John the Baptist.  Others say it is two Israelite men in the future. The description of these men hearkens back to prophecies in the Old Testament.  They are called two olive trees (Zechariah 4) and two candlesticks or lampstands.  The Spirit of God enables these men to withstand great difficulties.  They are lights in an almost completely dark world.  They have miraculous powers, including being able to breath fire on their enemies, change oceans and rivers into blood, stop rainfall, and bring plagues of any kind upon the earth.  These miraculous acts will be designed to draw many people to the truth about God during this time. It also happens to create many enemies of these men.

When God fulfills His purposes through these witnesses, the Antichrist (beast from the bottomless pit) will declare war on them and will kill them. Their bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem and through television or satellite, the whole world will see their dead bodies and celebrate. People will give presents to one another and act like it's Christmas, because these men brought plagues upon the earth and many people died.  For 3 1/2 days the world will party like there is no tomorrow.  But there is a tomorrow in God's economy and after 3 1/2 days God's Spirit reenters these men and they resurrect before everyone's eyes. A loud voice calls out, "Come up here!" And they ascend into heaven on a cloud as the whole word watches.  "Come up here" is the same command that John received to go up into heaven and the same words that called the Church up into heaven during the Rapture. Everyone is terrified and then a gigantic earthquake hits the city. Many people die and this is the second terror of which the eagle warned.

Now verses 15-19 provide an interlude in the story designed to encourage the Tribulation saints about the coming Kingdom of God.  In order to make it through the trying times of the Tribulation, God gives them a message of hope. The promise that the whole world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ is given.  He will reign forever and ever.  This truth will sustain the suffering believers during the Tribulation period.

In this vision, the elders of the Church in heaven fall down to worship Jesus. We see them declare the truth that the nations raged against the Son, but the Son is victorious and will judge the dead and reward his servants (Psalm 2). This is a picture of Christ rewarding the Old Testament saints and prophets.  He will eventually destroy all who have caused destruction on the earth including Satan, demons, and the wicked people of this world.

The next vision is the Temple in heaven and the Ark of the Covenant. This is an image for the nation of Israel.  These promises are designed to encourage the nation of Israel, who is relying on God during the Great Tribulation period. It should be noted that the Church is not pictured in the Temple in heaven.  The Church is pictured as the elders around God's throne, who have already received their crowns of reward. We see God working separately as He distinguishes between the times of the Gentiles and the coming millennial reign of Christ on this earth designed to fulfill His promises to the nation of Israel that they would have an earthly king who would reign forever and ever.

Psalm 139:1-24

God is the Creator of all things.  He has known us even before we were formed in the womb.  He leads us along the path to everlasting life.

Proverbs 30:15-16

Here is what is not satisfied- the leech, the grave, the barren womb, the thirsty desert and the blazing fire.

What did you notice as you read?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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