Postal Sunday Schook - Lesson 5
We have been dealing with reading the Bible to more profit and setting out and keeping notes. We must spend a little time discussing how to look for the keynotes and ideas of a book of Scripture. You will remember that we suggested in the last lesson that you look for something in particular as you read Haggai. You will have to develop “eagle eyes” of your own if you are to benefit from your own reading. Every time you read through a book of the Bible therefore, keep your eyes open and concentrate on what you are reading. Have a sheet of paper handy so that if anything strikes you as being interesting or needing following up you can simply jot down the reference or the word on the paper. Do not stop to look at the point in detail. Complete your reading first.
Having completed the reading., give some thought to the things you have noted on your paper. Of course., you may not have the time to deal with all the things you have noted in the one study period. However, do what you can. If any of the words, themes or subjects look important enough, set them out on a separate piece of paper. Remember, verse references on the left and facts or comments to the right of this. The more you read and follow up things, the more quick you will become at both reading and finding points worth following up.
As you are only just beginning we will give you one subject for which to look in every book you read. Make a note of all the references to God by name or title on one of your early readings of the book. In the New Testament you should also look out all the references to the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Read Haggai through again now and make a note of all the references to God.
Having completed our reading we should have noted the following chapter and verse references. Divide them into groups under the different names or titles used. Incidentally, it is best to note things like this from a Revised Version Bible if you have one.
- The Lord: 1. 1, 2, 3, 8, 12, 13 (3), 14; 2. 1, 4 (2), 10, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 23.
- The Lord of hosts: 1. 2, 5, 7, 9; 2. 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 (2), 11, 23 (2).
- The Lord their God: 1. 12 (2).
- The Lord of hosts, their God: 1. 14.
One or two things ought to be said before we go on. Whenever the name Lord is printed in capitals throughout it is translating the Hebrew name Jehovah. This name stresses (a) God’s self-existence and eternal being and (b) God’s special covenant relationship with men, particularly Israel (see Hag. 2. 5). When the name Lord is printed with the initial letter only in capitals, it is intended to signify that a different Hebrew title is being translated meaning, Master or Owner. When a title or name is followed by the phrase “of hosts” the fact that God is over all, that He is invincible and Almighty is conveyed. He is the Lord of all creation and His counsels cannot be frustrated. He causes even the wrath of man to praise Him and the devil’s hosts are powerless against Him. What tremendous encouragement this truth must have been to the struggling people of God in Haggai’s day and this explains the emphasis given to “the Lord of hosts” in the book. When all looked black, when evil seemed to prevail, when His people were under the dominion of foreigners (Darius was a Persian king), they could look to the Almighty Lord of hosts. God would overthrow thrones and everything that opposed His people and His plans, He would shake the heavens and the earth. We may be confident too when we know that we are in the arms of such a God. If God be for us, who can be against us?
One more point. Did you notice that the title changes at the end of chapter 1? Three times we find appended to God’s title “their God”. The people obeyed the Lord their God, they did work in the house of the Lord their God. It is as though the Holy Spirit would stress that they were beginning to enjoy again that He was “their God”. When we are discouraged or when we become occupied with our own interests, we quickly lose our desire for God and His Word and also the enjoyed sense of His presence. Let us once obey, seek to give Him His rightful place again, and the blessing of His presence is known once more. Hence every name or title of God, the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus has its own significance and encouragement for us. The more carefully you consider these names and titles therefore, the more you will learn of God. The Lord Jesus said “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”, John 17. 3.
We can gain much more by prayerfully weighing all the references to God in a book. Ask yourself the question, “What do I find revealed about Him here?” This is one way to grow in the knowledge of Him. Let us consider the references to God in Haggai once again with this in mind. Take a sheet of paper and write the title “God in Haggai” at the top. Set out in a few lines the titles and references as listed above. Note underneath this anything that you have learned about these. On the remainder of the page set out what you have learned about God through the message of Haggai. Here are a few points to start with:
- 1. 1, 2, 12, 13, etc., “word, speaketh, saith, voice, message”. God speaks to His people (a) by His servants (b) by His Word.
- 1. 2; 2. 15, etc., “house, temple”. God has a house and is very interested in its progress. This is so today, see 1 Pet. 2. 5.
- 1. 4, His house waste, their’s cared for. God desires that we should put Him first,
- 1. 6, 9-11, etc., God chastens His people when they turn from Him,
- 1. 8; 2. 4, etc., “Go, bring, build, work”. God commands; it is ours to obey,
- 1. 8; contrast 2. 8. “Go . . . and bring wood”; the gold is His. God never asks for more than we can do or give,
- 1. 12; contrast 2. 5, “fear before the Lord”; “fear ye not”; cf. Psa. 56. 4, 11. God is to be feared (reverenced) yet we are not to be afraid,
- 2, 11-14. We must be clean if the work of our hands is to be acceptable to Him.