“Home-Study Lesson: Obadiah; Jonah; Micah; Nahum; Habakkuk; Zephaniah; Haggai; Zechariah 1–2 (Unit 31)” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Unit 31,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
Through the prophet Haggai, the Lord exhorted the Jews to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem and promised them great blessings if they obeyed Him. The prophet Zechariah had several visions about Judah, Jerusalem, and the last days.
Bring to class an empty container (such as a plastic bottle) with several small holes in the bottom, a pitcher of water, a sponge or rag, and a pan large enough to catch the water that will spill.
Invite a student to come to the front of the class and use the sponge or rag to transfer the water from the pitcher to the container with holes. (Make sure the student does this over the pan so that it catches the water that spills.) After the student struggles to complete this task, ask the following question:
Why is it a challenge to fill a container that has holes?
Ask students to ponder how this activity could represent the experience of someone who is given the word of God but chooses to ignore God’s will and pursue his or her own desires instead.
Invite students to look for truths as they study the book of Haggai that illustrate the blessings of putting God and His will first in our lives.
Explain that after the Jews arrived in Jerusalem from their captivity in Babylon, they put great effort into rebuilding the temple, the city, their homes, and their lives. However, because of opposition from the Samaritans and their own apathy, they stopped working on the temple for several years (see Ezra 4:1–5, 24).
Invite a student to read Haggai 1:1–4 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s message that Haggai delivered to Zerubbabel and Joshua, two of the Jewish leaders.
According to verse 2, what did the people say about rebuilding the temple?
What question did the Lord ask the people in verse 4?
Explain that the word ceiled means “paneled” (see verse 4, footnote a). “Ceiled houses” refers to the way many Jews furnished their homes with fine wood, and the phrase “this house” refers to the temple.
How had the people placed their will ahead of the Lord’s will?
Display the container with the holes in it, and invite a student to read Haggai 1:5–7 aloud. Ask students to follow along, looking for similarities between the Jews’ situation and the container.
How was the Jews’ situation similar to the container with holes?
According to verse 6, in what ways did the people not prosper?
Invite a student to read Haggai 1:8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord instructed the people to do.
What did the Lord instruct the people to do?
Summarize Haggai 1:9–11 by explaining that the Lord told the Jews that the difficulties they were experiencing, including a drought and a famine, were the result of putting a higher priority on furnishing their own homes than on rebuilding His temple.
Invite a student to read Haggai 1:12–14 aloud. Ask students to follow along, looking for what Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people decided to do.
What did the Jews decide to do?
According to verse 13, what was the Lord’s message to the people because of their decision to work on the temple?
Summarize Haggai 2:1–6 by explaining that after the Jews struggled for nearly a month to rebuild the temple, the Lord spoke words of encouragement to them through the prophet Haggai.
Invite a student to read Haggai 2:7–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord said He would do to His temple. Point out that the title “the desire of all nations” (verse 7) refers to the Savior, Jesus Christ.
According to verse 7, what will Jesus Christ do to His temple when He comes?
Explain that this prophecy could refer to the Savior’s visits to the temple during His mortal ministry. It could also refer to His visit to His temple in Jerusalem at the Second Coming, which may be what Haggai meant when he said, “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former,” or Solomon’s temple (Haggai 2:9).
According to verse 9, what will the Lord give in His temple?
What principle can we learn from verse 9 that can help us understand an important purpose of temples? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: When we are in the house of the Lord, He can give us peace. You may want to suggest that students write this principle in the margin next to verse 9.)
Invite students to share an experience they have had when they felt peace in the temple. Encourage students to be worthy to be in the temple and to go to the temple as often as they can.
Summarize Haggai 2:10–17 by explaining that these verses refer to ordinances of the law of Moses related to holiness and cleanliness and again identify the Jews’ temporal problems as a result of not building the temple.
Invite a student to read Haggai 2:18–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for blessings the Lord said would result from the people’s decision to work on the temple.
What did the Lord say He would do for Israel starting from the day they continued working on the temple?
What principle can we learn from these verses? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: If we put God and His will first in our lives, then He will be with us and bless all aspects of our lives. Write this principle on the board. You may want to suggest that students write it in the margin of their scriptures next to Haggai 2:18–19.)
To help students understand this principle, ask them to share situations in which we would need to decide whether to put God first.
How might God bless us in all aspects of our lives as we put Him first?
Invite students to ponder how putting God first in their lives has blessed them. Consider asking a few students to share their experiences with the class.
Summarize Haggai 2:20–23 by explaining that the Lord, through Haggai, told of the great influence that Zerubbabel would have on Judah.
Summarize Zechariah 1–2 by explaining that Zechariah prophesied in Jerusalem at about the same time as Haggai. During a time when the Jews felt that God had forgotten them and their struggles, Zechariah prophesied that there would be peace in the land so that the temple could be rebuilt. He also prophesied that in the last days Judah would be gathered to Jerusalem and that the Lord would dwell in the midst of His people.
Invite students to imagine that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is about to occur. Ask them to ponder if they feel they are ready for it. Explain that as they study Zechariah 3–Malachi 4, they will learn about prophecies about the Second Coming and how they can prepare themselves and the world for it. They will also learn why the Lord has emphasized the need to do family history and temple work for their ancestors.