Passage: Haggai 2:1-9
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
When we look at the brokenness in ourselves, and in the world around us, it’s easy to grow discouraged, and to quit investing in God’s kingdom. We need God to personally strengthen us, and encourage us to keep going, just as he did in Haggai’s day.
Only a few weeks after the returned remnant heeded God’s call to rebuild the temple, they grew weary with discouragement. The land was still in drought, crops were failing (1:7-11), and the people were beginning to recognize that the new temple could never match the original glory of Solomon’s temple. In the midst of this discouragement, God invited his people to name the reality that was before them. Rather than looking away from the problem, or embracing a naïve optimism, God wants us, as his people, to come to him in the midst of our discouragement, so that we can relate to him honestly.
Having invited Israel to “be real” with him, God next encourages the people to get to work continuing to build the temple. He exhorts them to “be strong” as they build, encouraging them with the promise of his own presence with them: “work, for I am with you” (2:4), he assures them, “My Spirit remains in your midst” (2:5). Though God invites us to openly lament what is wrong in our circumstances, he doesn’t want us to wallow in it, or to remain cynical and disengaged. Rather, God wants to fortify us with his own presence so that, despite our circumstances, we will continue serving him and others courageously.
Finally, God invites the people to look ahead to their glorious future—a day where “the latter glory” of temple would far surpass “the former glory” (2:9); when the temple would be filled with the “treasures of all nations”, and be a source of worldwide peace. The rebuilt temple in Jerusalem never matched these grand promises, but Christians know that this promise looks forward to a time far greater than any of Haggai’s readers could have imagined—the new heavens and the new earth that God is bringing, where the whole earth is God’s temple, every nation worships Christ, and everything broken is restored to its intended state of flourishing. As Christians, we long for this future day, and live in light of it, knowing that any brokenness we experience now is only temporary.
- Let’s Be Real (2:1-3)
- Let’s Get Going (2:4-5)
- Let’s Look Ahead (2:6-9)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage (Haggai 2:1-9)
Let’s Be Real (2:1-3)
Q) Re-read Haggai 2:1-3. What does God ask the “remnant of the people”? What is his goal in asking them this?
Q) Put yourselves in the shoes of the people who had seen the temple “in its former glory” (vs. 3). What do you think you they were feeling and why?
Q) Pastor Bobby said that by inviting the people admit that the new temple seemed like “nothing” compared to glory of Solomon’s temple, he was inviting them to “name reality”, and by doing so, to relate to him honestly. Why is it often challenging for us to “name” (admit) hard realities in our lives? What happens if we don’t do this—if we avoid talking about it with God and others, or settle for a “naïve optimism”?
Q) Is there a challenging or discouraging situation you’re facing right now—one that you need to “be real” about, before God and others? Consider sharing this with your brothers and sisters in Christ, and sharing with God in prayer. (If you’re not comfortable doing so now, you might plan for how to do this in the near future).
Let’s Get Going (2:4-5)
Q) Re-read Haggai 2:4-5. What does God exhort the people to do, and how does he encourage them to do it?
Q) In Haggai 2:4, God encourages, Zerubbabel, Joshua, and all the people of the land to “be strong”, to “work”, and to “fear not”. Is there a discouraging situation you’re facing right now, where you need to labor on with strength and courage? What would it look like for you to do so? How might the knowledge of God’s presence with you give you strength for this specific situation?
Q) Pastor Bobby said in his sermon that “courage isn’t really self-confidence or self-assurance; it’s the conviction that there is something that is more important than me…it’s losing yourself in service of God and in needs of others. It is self-forgetfulness that leads to action”. How might this explanation change the way you view courage? How might it change the way you pray for, and seek to show courage in a specific situation you’re facing? How might it change the way you encourage others?
Q) Spend a few minutes thinking on a more corporate level. Where do we, as a church, need to continue laboring with strength and courage?
Let’s Look Ahead (2:6-9)
Q) Re-read Haggai 2:6-9. What does God promise to do? Can you think of passages or clues in Scripture—you don’t need to know the exact reference—as to how & when God will ultimately fulfill each aspect of his promise:
- The ultimate fulfillment of…God “shaking the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land” (vs. 6)
- The ultimate fulfillment of…God “shaking the nations so that the treasures of all nations shall come into (his house)” (2:7)
- The ultimate fulfillment of…God “filling his house with glory” (2:7)
- The ultimate fulfillment of…the “latter glory of God’s house” being “greater than the former glory” (2:9)
- The ultimate fulfillment of…God “giving peace” in the place where the temple is (2:9)
Q) Pastor Bobby said in his sermon that we can draw strength from looking forward to the new heavens and the new earth, which Christ will bring, remembering that our current struggles are only temporary. What is one area of brokenness or discouragement you’re facing right now—or one that our society is facing—that you need to remember is only temporary? What will it look like when this is healed/restored in the new heavens and the new earth?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.