Teaching Haggai to Students: A Call to Consider
Tucked away amongst the minor prophets of the Old Testament is the small but mighty book of Haggai. For a book of only two chapters, Haggai packs a big punch.
In Haggai, we catch a glimpse of God’s people returned from Babylonian exile; though they were sent back to Jerusalem with a command to rebuild the temple, things haven’t gone so well. The book of Ezra tells us about some of the resistance the newly-returned Isralites faced in rebuilding the temple, ultimately putting a stop to their efforts. Sure, God’s people were back home in Jerusalem after years in captivity, but things weren’t the same. They began to invest their time and energy in matters other than the temple rebuilding project. They were living comfortably in their “paneled houses (1:4),” but God’s dwelling place remained unrestored.
Enter the prophet Haggai: God sends him to spur on the rebuilding of the temple and to graciously wake His people up to the emptiness of their lives. One of Haggai’s first words from the Lord is a call for the Israelites to “consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them in a bag with holes” (1:5-6).
Could this not be an assessment of our lives today? Haggai’s call to “consider our ways” poses the question: are we too building “paneled houses” for ourselves as our relationship with the Lord grows stale?
We know this to be true in our students’ lives as well. We see them add “panels” to their “houses” of Instagram, academic prestige, or a vibrant party life, yielding little return on investment. We watch our students’ lives empty before our eyes with every mindless scroll, late night of studying, or poor decision made.
Haggai has good news for us and our students as we consider the disordered priorities of our lives: the very Spirit of the Lord is in our midst, empowering us and encouraging us as we press on to know, love, and serve Him more. As we seek to invite our students into richer, more satisfying lives in Christ, Haggai is a powerful testament to the emptiness of worldly pursuits and the greater glory of a relationship with the living God.
As He did with His people in 520 BC, God might use Haggai to call us and our students to seek the deeper satisfaction we crave in the Lord. Students might be drawn to “consider” how their over-investment in school, video games, or an unhealthy friendship has left their relationship with God wearing thin.
When teaching Haggai, it is important to keep in check our flesh’s impulse to turn this call to consider and re-invest into a new law, wrongly encouraging our students to just “do more” in their daily walks with the Lord. Haggai shows us that it is always the Lord who is doing the work. In His desire to be near His people, He graciously invites us along, but without the power of His spirit in our midst, any labor would be done in vain. Just as he did among His people with the temple rebuilding, the Lord is always the one “stirring” our spirits towards Himself (1:14).
God did not send Haggai to motivate His people to rebuild the temple just because He wanted them to experience laborious toil, He did so because a restored temple meant a restored relationship with God. Instead of putting money into a bag with holes, work on the temple would be an eternal investment, yielding a satisfaction and fulfillment that could not be found elsewhere.
As our students navigate what it means to follow the Lord, Haggai shows us that God does indeed call us to invest in a relationship with Him. He cares about the emptiness of our lives and longs for us to know a deeper satisfaction found in Him. While this draws us out of a life of stagnancy, we also see that the Lord’s grace is ultimately what sustains us in our walk with Him.
Because they live in a fallen world, our students are drawn to empty pursuits, just as we are. Haggai, then, offers good news for those who are wearied from these futile investments. It promises us that the God who sends us is the God who supplies us; and He is, ultimately, the God who satisfies us.
As you seek to invite your students to pursue the Lord and re-orient their lives towards a relationship with Him, “consider” using the Haggai curriculum on Rooted Reservoir to help you do so.