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The Purity of God's Presence

April 29, 2018 Speaker: Eric Naus Series: Pursuing the Presence of God

Passage: Haggai 2:10–2:23

Community Group Questions: Haggai 2:10-23 “The Purity of God’s Presence”

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Community Group Discussion Questions: Haggai 2:10-23 “The Purity of God’s Presence”

Read Haggai 2:10-23 aloud as a group and then work through the following questions:

  1. In this final section of Haggai, the people are at a “turning point”: will they continue to follow the Lord, depend on his presence, and finish the temple rebuilding? Or, will they turn back to their neglectful ways?  Like the Israelites, we all face “turning points” in our lives, big and small.  Can you think of a recent time in your life where you faced a spiritual turning point?  Share with the group what that experience was like.
  2. In verses 10-14, God speaks through Haggai to the priests. As “legal experts” on the Mosaic law, the priests were often called upon to interpret the law’s meaning.  God asks the priest two questions to test their understanding of ritual holiness and ritual uncleanness.  Based on these questions and the answers given by the priests, we learn that holiness could only transfer by “one degree” (that is, if holy meat was carried in the priest’s robe, and then bumped into some other food, the holiness did not transfer through the robe to the food).  On the other hand, uncleanness could transfer by “two degrees” (someone who touched a corpse and became unclean could transfer that uncleanness to anyone else they touched).  In other words, ritual “uncleanness” was highly contagious!  (like germs today!)  How did this principle apply to the Israelites?  (see vs. 14).  Assuming that “uncleanness” was meant to teach us about the nature of our sin, how do these verses apply to us today? 
  3. How contagious was Adam’s sin? (see Romans 5:12)  According to Haggai 2:14, how does our personal sin affect those around us, and how does sin affect our worship of God? 
  4. In verses 15-19, God reminds the people of all the negative consequences they faced when they failed to obey him by leaving the temple in ruins. God seems to be reminding them of these negative consequences so they can find strength and incentive to obey in the future.  Is it helpful, as a Christian, to reflect on sin’s consequences?  How so? 
  5. In verse 19, God reminds the people of his wonderful intention to bless them: “I will bless you!” In spite of their fear, in spite of their past failures, and in spite of their fickle track record, God was resolving to show them abundant blessing!  Have you experienced God’s relentless grace and undeserved blessing even this week?  Take time to brainstorm as a group, listing out all the ways God has poured out his abundant grace and rich blessing on your lives, even when you least deserved it.
  6. God’s blessing in verse 19 begs an important question: how can a holy God keep on blessing a people who have proven themselves to be unfaithful time and time again? The answer is found in verses 20-23.  These verses are spoken to “Zerubbabel,” the governor who led the people back into the land.  Importantly, Zerubbabel was the grandson of King Jehoiachin, the Davidic king who ruled in Jerusalem, and was conquered and taken into exile by King Nebuchadnezzar (see 2 Chronicles 36:9-10).  At that time, God cursed Jehoiachin (read Jeremiah 22:24-26.  Coniah = Jehoiachin).  God had considered the Davidic Kings of Judah to be his “signet ring” (the kingly ring by which he stamped royal documents with the royal seal).  But now, God was taking this ring off, and throwing it away, suggesting that the kingly line of David was being severed.  However, now Zerubbabel is told in Haggai 2:23 that he is a signet ring that is being put back on!  In other words, God is restoring the royal line of King David!  The epic promises of global rule in Haggai 2:21-23 were never fulfilled in Zerubbabel’s day, yet one of his descendants would one day rule all nations…  See Matthew 1:1-16, where the royal line is traced from King David, to Jehoiachin (called Jechoniah), to Zerubbabel, to Joseph, to Jesus the Messiah!  Jesus Christ is the ultimate king who is the “signet ring” of God’s authority!  In light of all of this, how is Jesus the ultimate solution for the consequences of our sin?  How does Jesus bring us the blessing we really need?  When will Jesus “shake the heavens and the earth” and “overthrow the throne of kingdoms” as predicted in Haggai?  How does this prophesy in Haggai give us even greater confidence in Jesus Christ? 
  7. The Israelites in this passage faced a major turning point. Turning back to God required 1) reflecting on sin’s seriousness 2) considering sin’s consequences, and 3) embracing God’s grace through Jesus Christ the King (as prefigured in Zerubbabel).  How does this pattern apply to our lives as we turn back to God in the turning points of life?

Prayer suggestion: Pray for one another in whatever spiritual turning points you may be going through.  Pray for courage to repent of sin, and confidence to run back into God’s gracious presence.

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