A Date With A King – Haggai 1:1-4

 

Summary:

Israel’s prophets usually dated their prophecies by the reign of Jewish kings (Isa. 1:1;Jer. 1:1-3; Ho. 1:1; Mic. 1:1; Zeph. 1:1) But Israel had persisted in sin and rebellion so God allowed the Babylonians to conquer them. Then when the Persians conquered them, Hosea and Zechariah were forced to date their prophecies by a pagan king (1:1 cf. Zech. 1:1). God warned this would happen (Deut. 28:1-44).

Babylon’s victory over Israel began “the times of the Gentiles,” i.e., the time when Gentiles rule the world instead of Jews as God intended. These times will continue till the Lord returns and the Jews once more rule the earth under Him (Lu. 21:23-27). They are why we must obey the government even if unbelievers are our rulers (Rom.13:1-8).

You’re not under the law that says God will make someone else your king if you disobey Him (Rom.6:15), but you can make sin your king (Rom. 6:16). Balaam couldn’t curse Israel but taught Balak how to get them to curse themselves (Num. 31:16). No one can curse you, but you can curse yourself by not obeying God.

The Persian king allowed Israel a “governor” (1:1). His name means “born in Babylon,” which means he was born on the wrong side of the tracks, spiritually speaking, but he built Israel’s temple and helped bear the Messiah (Mt. 1:12,13; Lu. 3:23-27). You too can be used of God no matter where you were born.

Haggai prophesied “in the second year of Darius” (1:1) which means right after some troublemakers convinced the king to order work on the temple stopped (Ezra 4:1—5:2). Haggai wrote “the governor” because he could order the Jews back to work (1:1), but he also wrote “the high priest” because the problem wasn’t the king’s order to stop the work, the problem was how the Jews were reacting to it. They were too quick to give up (1:2).

“Aren’t God’s people supposed to obey the government?” Yes, unless they order something contrary to God’s orders (Acts 4:19,20). If they order us to stop preaching Christ, we shouldn’t because we are building the temple of Christ’s Body (I Tim. 3:15).

God called the Jews “my people Israel” 28 times, but called them “this people” when He was displeased with them, like the Lord called His Father’s house “your house” in speaking to those who rejected Him (cf. Jo.2:16; Mt. 23:37,38).

Only the most luxurious houses were ceiled (1:2) or plastered, so God was saying, “How come it’s not time to build Me a nice house but it is time to build yourselves nice homes?” They should have felt as David did (II Sam. 7:2), and challenged the ruling on legal grounds. Long before a Persian king ruled the temple not be built, an earlier king ruled it be built (Ezr. 1:1-3). They should have pointed out that that earlier law could not be altered (Dan.6:8).

Instead they did what Christians today do, they interpreted God’s will by their circumstances instead of by God’s Word. They knew Cyrus was right to order the temple built because Isaiah predicted he would (Isa. 45:28). Instead of interpreting the opposition to the work as God’s will, they should have remembered that any time you serve God you will experience opposition.

It’s always easier to let opposition make you think something is not God’s will and then find ways to justify it. God says men should work for a living, but men come up with excuses not to (Pr. 26:13-16; Eccl. 11:4). If you stop serving God every time the going gets tough, you’ll never accomplish anything for Him. Paul says we are appointed to opposition (Acts 14:22; I Thes. 3:3).

Instead of giving up on building the temple, the remnant should have had the same attitude David had when he was just trying to find a place to pitch the tabernacle for God. He said he wouldn’t sleep in his bed till he found it (Ps. 132:1-5), and he said that amid his “afflictions.” They included dodging javelins chucked at him by Saul! So no matter what afflictions are in your life, why not choose to say with David that God’s will comes first in your life?

The Cold Shoulders of Paul – 2 Timothy 4:13-22

 

Summary:

A “cloke” (v.13) is not a coat (cf. Lu. 6:29), it was more like a mantle or a shawl. Paul left his cloke with Carpus in Troas, where Paul had to raise a man from the dead who had fallen asleep and fell out a third story window (Acts 20:1-16). But Paul probably didn’t forget the cloke in all the excitement. He had chosen to walk from Troas to Assos on a warm day and probably sent the cloke with Timothy, who went by ship, and somehow they never connected.

So Paul wasn’t asking Timothy to go 200 miles out of his way to get the cloke before coming to see him, he was just asking for him to bring it with him from Ephesus. It is important to let other members of the Body of Christ minister to us, especially when it is not inconvenient for them!

Paul also left some “books” (v.13) in Troas. Those could be the books of his Bible (cf. Dan. 9:2), but it is more likely books about the Bible, since he asked Timothy “especially” to bring “the parchments” (v.13), which were probably his Bible. Either way, Paul read books about the Bible and encouraged Timothy to do so also (I Tim. 4:13). If even Paul read more than just the Bible itself, we probably should too!

Of course, the parchments could have been blank, and Paul could have been asking for them “especially” to write more epistles. He was burdened with “the care of all the churches” II Cor. 11:28) and planned to keep ministering to his last breath, even though he was in prison on Death Row (4:6). His hand clave to the sword of the Spirit (II Sam. 23:9,10).

Since Paul warned Timothy to be ware of Alexander the coppersmith (v. 14,15), he was probably the Alexander of Ephesus where Timothy was (Acts 19:28-34), the man “of like occupation” with the silversmiths. The mob was going to kill Paul for saying there are no gods made of silver, so the Jews put Alexander forward to show that one of their own didn’t object to idolatry. He “withstood” Paul’s words by imitating them (cf. I Tim. 3:8). If he was willing to sell out Judaism for money, he was probably willing to sell out Paul’s message for money once he learned it (Tit. 1:10,11).

When Paul says Alexander “did me much evil” by withstanding his words, it showed he took it personally. But he was willing to let the Lord reward him (v.14) as He said he would (I Cor. 3:14; II Cor. 5:10). That’s an example of Paul praying God would do what He said He would, which is a good way to pray. For example, the Lord promises to always be with us, but Paul still prayed He would be (II Tim. 4:22).

Of course, if Alexander wasn’t saved, he’ll still be judged “according to his works” at the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:12). We should let God do all the judging of unsaved homosexuals, abortionists, etc. We’re here to help save them, not judge them (cf. Luke 9:53-56).

Paul’s “first answer” (v.16) was his first answer in court (cf. Acts 26:16). None of the 27 people Paul said hello to in Romans 16 stood with him in that Roman court appearance. Sometimes you have to stand alone for the truth!

The Lord always “strengthens” His people (4:17 cf. Ps. 37:39)), but under the Law He also promised to deliver them if they were righteous (Ps. 37:39,40). Paul was righteous, but wasn’t under that law (Rom. 6:15). But God delivered him at his first answer because He always delivered His prophets until they could deliver His message (cf. Jer. 15:20,21). He delivered Paul in the past (Acts 18:9,10; 23:11) and at his first answer so he could be released from his first imprisonment so the preaching of the mystery could be fully known among the Gentiles (4:17).

The “lion” could be a literal lion, since history tells us that Christians were often fed to the lions, but it could also be the devil (I Pe. 5:8). But Satan is more of an angel of light today (II Cor. 11:14), so I think the lion was the king who had him in prison, since kings are often called lions (Pr. 19:12; 20:2; Jer. 50:17; Ezek. 32:2).

Paul was executed shortly after saying the Lord would deliver him (4:18). Was he mistaken? No, God delivered Him eternally to his “heavenly kingdom” (4:18 cf. I Cor. 15:50). He couldn’t heal Trophimus (4:20) because the gift of healing had ceased by that time, and all other gifts.

More on Eating Blood

“In a previous article you answered that it is okay to eat blood. What about Acts 15:20,29?”

When Paul began preaching that Gentiles didn’t need to be circumcised or keep the law of Moses to be saved, the leaders of the Hebrew kingdom church were concerned, and convened in Jerusalem to consider the matter (Acts 15:1-6). When Paul later wrote that he “went up…to Jerusalem” to attend this council “by revelation” (Gal. 2:1,2), that meant the Lord revealed to him that he should respectfully seek approval of his new ministry from the leaders of the Hebrew kingdom church. Thanks to Peter’s testimony about his experience with the Gentiles (Acts 15:7-11), James gave this approval, saying,

“Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God” (Acts 15:19).

But he added,

“But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood” (v. 20).

James perceived the grace that was given to Paul (Gal. 2:9), and so recognized that the new Gentile converts were not under the law. But he wasn’t sure what not being under the law would involve! You see, the details of the revelation of the mystery weren’t given to him, they were given to Paul. And so, while James perceived that he could not withstand this new revelation from God to accept the Gentiles any more than Peter could (cf. Acts 11:17), he directed that while the Gentiles were not under the law, they should at least refrain from things that members of the Hebrew kingdom church would find offensive.

But we know that James was in no position to determine God’s policy in the Body of Christ because Paul later reversed the Jerusalem council’s directive that the Gentiles “abstain from meats offered to idols” (Acts 15:29 cf. 1 Cor. 8:1-6; 10:23-27). And when Paul also taught that “every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused” when it came to abstaining from meats (1 Tim. 4:3,4), it is clear that the council’s instruction that the Gentiles abstain from eating “things strangled, and from blood” was similarly not binding on the Gentiles.

Just remember, while you are free to enjoy blood soup, or other such dishes, Paul makes it clear that you should not enjoy them in the presence of someone who is weak in the faith when it comes to their understanding of things like this (Rom. 14; 1 Cor. 8:7-13; 10:28-33).

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


Two Minutes with the Bible lets you start your day with short but powerful Bible study articles from the Berean Bible Society. Sign up now to receive Two Minutes With the Bible every day in your email inbox. We will never share your personal information and you can unsubscribe at any time.

The Gospel of Salvation

The Word of God teaches, “The wages of sin is death.” When Christ stepped across the stars into this world of sin and woe, death was powerless over Him. Christ knew no sin! He was the sinless, spotless Lamb of God; therefore death could not lay its icy grip upon His shoulder.

Tell me then, how is it that, at the end of His earthly ministry, He’s suffering and dying in shame and disgrace? You see, Christ wasn’t dying for His sins, for He knew no sin (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 3:5). He was dying for your sins and my sins upon that cruel tree. Our sins and iniquities were laid upon Him that He might redeem us back to God through His precious blood.

Now God turns to a lost and dying world with the good news of Calvary. Simply believe that Christ died for your sins personally, and rose again the third day, and God will wonderfully save you from the wrath to come, according to the riches of His grace. Do you know the joy of sins forgiven? If not, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:13; 1 Cor. 15:3,4).

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


Two Minutes with the Bible lets you start your day with short but powerful Bible study articles from the Berean Bible Society. Sign up now to receive Two Minutes With the Bible every day in your email inbox. We will never share your personal information and you can unsubscribe at any time.

God’s Waiting Room

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord” (Psa. 27:14).

The half-joking prayer, “Lord, I need patience, and I need it RIGHT NOW,” isn’t too far removed from how we approach matters of spiritual growth and living out the will of God in our life. Life is full of waiting: waiting for your phone to charge; waiting in line at the grocery store; waiting in a traffic jam; waiting for a job; waiting for the right spouse; waiting for test results; waiting to be old enough to drive. Steve Farrar of Men’s Leadership Ministries says, “Waiting is like eating gravel. Nobody in their right mind wants or likes to do it.” Waiting is difficult.

The culture we live in is one that doesn’t like to wait. We like instant and fast everything—instant downloads, instant messaging, instant coffee, instant prints, fast-food restaurants, faster internet, fast phones. However, there are many times along our journey through life when God says, “Wait here.” And what looks like 15 minutes turns out to be 15 months, or even 15 years.

The Bible provides numerous examples of people who waited on the Lord. Abraham waited for decades to have the son that God promised him. Joseph had to wait in prison. Moses waited for 40 years on the backside of the desert, tending sheep, before leading the children of Israel out of captivity in Egypt. The Israelites then had to wait 40 years to enter the Promised Land. Simeon waited for the birth of the Messiah. Paul waited during his time of preparation in Arabia.

Waiting is a part of God’s plan and purpose in our lives, and resisting God’s timing and trying to get ahead of the Lord can have serious consequences. Abraham and Sarah found this out when they ran ahead of God, with Hagar bearing Ishmael instead of waiting on God’s promise (Gen. 16).

God works while His people are waiting. Time is not wasted in God’s waiting room. Waiting on the Lord renews our strength (Isa. 40:31). God often uses these times of waiting to prepare us for what lies ahead. Oswald Chambers writes, “We are apt to think that everything that happens to us is to be turned into useful teaching…We shall find that the spheres God brings us into are not meant to teach us something but to make us something.” In those waiting times, God both teaches and makes us something; in us He cultivates patience, Christlike character, and hope as we trust Him through those times. As we read in Romans 5:3-5a,

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed.”

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


Two Minutes with the Bible lets you start your day with short but powerful Bible study articles from the Berean Bible Society. Sign up now to receive Two Minutes With the Bible every day in your email inbox. We will never share your personal information and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Why Paul’s Ministry Was So Effective

We have Christian friends who have a close relationship with an outstanding Bible teacher. They tell the story of going on a cruise with this teacher. At the time, the husband knew Christ as Savior, but the wife was still unsaved and somewhat leery of letting go of the doctrines learned as a child in her church. The teacher disarmed this lady by seeking her out, sharing a meal with them, being very personable, and lovingly sharing the Scriptures she needed. The end result was that this lady trusted Christ as her Savior, became a vibrant believer, and the couple became lifelong friends with this teacher who had been so used of the Lord in their lives.

Have you ever wondered how the Apostle Paul had such an effective ministry with so many during his lifetime? He gives his testimony about this in the Scriptures. It began with a genuine burden for lost souls. Paul tells us “That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren…” (Rom. 9:2,3). Lost souls seem to be able to sense when one deeply cares for their spiritual welfare. Paul was ready to share the eternal life-giving gospel “in season, out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2). No matter where he was, from prison to the palace, he was constantly giving out the message of salvation by grace alone. He sowed the seed of the gospel frequently enough that many were saved. Paul said, “I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” (1 Cor. 9:19). His attitude was one of surrendering as a willing bond slave to the Savior; then, he served others, in a spiritual sense, willingly and humbly attending to their needs. Paul approached the lost in a personable way, finding common ground with the lost so he’d have greater credibility when presenting the gospel. He says: “…unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews…To them that are without law, as without law…I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some…” (1 Cor. 9:20-22). Paul was also tireless, working “night and day” (Acts 20:31; 1 Thes. 2:9), in his care and prayer for those he led to Christ.

If you’d like to be more greatly used of the Lord, follow this pattern used by the Apostle Paul and the teacher who reached our friend.

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


Two Minutes with the Bible lets you start your day with short but powerful Bible study articles from the Berean Bible Society. Sign up now to receive Two Minutes With the Bible every day in your email inbox. We will never share your personal information and you can unsubscribe at any time.