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Haggai 1:1–2:23 (LEB)

The Temple Lies in Ruins

1 In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day, the word of Yahweh came through Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, “Thus says Yahweh of hosts: ‘This people says, “The time has not come to rebuild the temple of Yahweh.’ ” And the word of Yahweh came through Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your houses that have been paneled while this house is desolate?” And so then, thus says Yahweh of hosts: ‘Consider your ways! You have sown much but have harvested little. You have eaten without being satisfied; you have drunk without being satiated; you have worn clothes without being warm; the one who earns wages puts it in a pouch with holes.’ Thus says Yahweh of hosts: ‘Consider your ways! Go up the mountain and bring wood and build the house so that I may be pleased with it and honored,’ says Yahweh. ‘You have looked for much, and look! It came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?’ declares Yahweh of hosts. ‘Because my house is desolate and you are running each to your own house! 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld the dew and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil, on what the soil produces, on human beings and wild animals, and on all their labor.’ ”

12 Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and all the remnant of the people gave heed to the voice of Yahweh their God and to the words of Haggai the prophet, as Yahweh their God had sent him, and the people feared Yahweh. 13 And Haggai the messenger of Yahweh spoke to the people with the message of Yahweh, saying, “ ‘I am with you’ declares Yahweh.” 14 And Yahweh stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and did the work on the house of Yahweh of hosts, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month in the second year of King Darius.

A Promise to Rebuild

2 In the seventh month on the twenty-first day, the word of Yahweh came through Haggai the prophet, saying, “Speak now to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying, ‘Who among you is left that saw this house in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it seem like nothing to you? ‘But now take courage, Zerubbabel,’ declares Yahweh. ‘Take courage, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and take courage, all the people of the land,’ declares Yahweh. ‘Do the work, because I am with you,’ declares Yahweh of hosts, ‘according to the promise that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. My spirit is with you; do not be afraid.’ For thus says Yahweh of hosts: ‘Once again, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and dry land. I will shake all the nations so that the treasure of all the nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says Yahweh of hosts. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares Yahweh of hosts. ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says Yahweh of hosts, ‘and in this place I will give peace’ declares Yahweh of hosts.’ ”

10 On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of Yahweh came to the prophet Haggai, saying, 11 “Thus says Yahweh of hosts: ‘Ask now the priests for a ruling: 12 If a man carries consecrated meat in the hem of his garment, and his hem touches bread, or stew, or wine, or olive oil, or any kind of food, will it become holy?’ ” The priests answered, “No.” 13 Then Haggai said, “If one who is unclean from contact with a corpse touches any of these, will it become unclean?” The priests answered, “Yes, it will be become unclean.” 14 And Haggai answered and said, “ ‘So it is with this people, and with this nation before me,’ declares Yahweh, ‘and so it is with every kind of work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean. 15 But now, please consider from this day forward, before one stone was placed on another in the temple of Yahweh, 16 from that time when one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten, and when one came to the wine vat to draw out fifty measures, there were only twenty. 17 I struck you with blight, and with plant mildew, and hail, all the work of your hands. But you did not come back to me,’ declares Yahweh. 18 Please consider from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of Yahweh’s temple was laid, consider: 19 Is there still seed in the store chamber? Do the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree still produce nothing? From this day forward I will bless you.’ ”

The Coming Kingdom

20 And the word of Yahweh came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month saying, 21 “Say to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah: I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, 22 and I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the military strength of the kingdoms of the nations. I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, every one by the sword of another! 23 ‘On that day,’ declares Yahweh of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, my servant,’ declares Yahweh, ‘and I will make you a signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares Yahweh of hosts.”

Acts 20:1–38 (LEB)

Paul Travels Through Macedonia and Greece

20 Now after the turmoil had ceased, Paul summoned​ the disciples, and after​ encouraging them,​ he said farewell and​ departed to travel to Macedonia. And after he​ had gone through those regions and encouraged them at length, he came to Greece and stayed​ three months. Because​ a plot was made against him by the Jews as he​ was about to set sail for Syria, he came to a decision to return through Macedonia. And Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, and Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, and Gaius from Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus from Asia, were accompanying him. And these had gone on ahead and​ were waiting for us in Troas. And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread and came to them at Troas within five days, where we stayed seven days.

Eutychus Falls from a Window

And on the first day of the week, when​ we had assembled to break bread, Paul began conversing​ with them, because he​ was going to leave on the next day, and he extended his​ message until midnight. Now there were quite a few lamps in the upstairs room where we were gathered. And a certain young man named Eutychus who was sitting in the window was sinking into a deep sleep while​ Paul was conversing at length. Being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 But Paul went down and​ threw himself on him, and putting his arms around him,​ said, “Do not be distressed, for his life is in him.” 11 So he went up and broke bread,​ and when he​ had eaten and talked for a long time, until dawn, then he departed. 12 And they led the youth away alive, and were greatly comforted.

The Voyage to Miletus

13 But we went on ahead to the ship and​ put out to sea for Assos, intending to take Paul on board there. For having made arrangements in this way, he himself was intending to travel by land. 14 And when he met us at Assos, we took him on board and​ went to Mitylene. 15 And we sailed from there on the next day, and​ arrived opposite Chios. And on the next day we approached Samos, and on the following day we came to Miletus. 16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus so that he would not be having to spend time in Asia. For he was hurrying if it could be possible for him to be in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.

Paul’s Farewell to the Ephesian Elders

17 And from Miletus he sent word​ to Ephesus and​ summoned the elders of the church. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them, “You know from the first day on which I set foot in Asia how I was the whole time with you—19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, and with the trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews—20 how I did not shrink from proclaiming to you anything that would be profitable, and from teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks with respect to repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.

22 “And now behold, bound by the Spirit I am traveling to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in town after town, saying that bonds and persecutions await me. 24 But I consider my​ life as worth nothing to myself, in order to finish my mission and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

25 “And now behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about proclaiming the kingdom, will see my face no more. 26 Therefore I testify to you on this very day that I am guiltless of the blood of all of you,​ 27 for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the whole purpose of God. 28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God which he obtained through the blood of his own Son. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 And from among you yourselves men will arise, speaking perversions of the truth in order to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for three years I did not stop warning each one of you​ with tears.

32 “And now I entrust you to God and to the message of his grace, which is able to build you​ up and to give you​ the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I have desired no one’s silver or gold or clothing! 34 You yourselves know that these hands served to meet​ my needs and the needs of​ those who were with me. 35 I have shown you with respect to all things that by​ working hard in this way it is necessary to help those who are in need, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus that he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

36 And when he​ had said these things, he fell to his knees and​ prayed with them all. 37 And there was considerable weeping by all, and hugging Paul, they kissed him, 38 especially distressed at the statement that he had said, that they were going to see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.

Job 28:1–11 (LEB)

Job’s Discourse on Wisdom

28 “Indeed, there is a mine for silver

and a place for gold to be refined.

Iron is taken from dust,

and he pours out copper from ore.

He puts an end to darkness,

and he searches out the farthest limits

for the ore in gloom and deep shadow.

He breaks open a mine shaft away from where people dwell;

those who are forgotten by travelers,

they dangle, they sway far away from human beings.

As for the earth, from it comes food,

but underneath it, it is turned up as by fire.

Its stones are the place of sapphire,

and the earthen dirt has gold.

It is a path a bird of prey does not know

and the black kite’s eye has not seen.

Proud wild animals have not trodden it;

the lion in its prime has not prowled over it.

He puts his hand on the hard rock;

he overturns mountains by the roots.

10 He cuts out tunnels in the rocks,

and his eye sees every treasure.

11 He dams up rivers from their sources,

and he brings secret things to the light.

September 22

It’s easy to get distracted from the good work God intends for us to do. Competing forces vie for our attention; we’re sidetracked by fear or selfishness. We start living our own stories and lose sight of the greater narrative, of which our lives are just one thread.

The Jewish exiles who returned to Jerusalem had begun the work of reconstructing the temple, a symbol of God’s presence among His people. In the rebuilding of the temple, they gathered up the remnants of their broken identities and together formed a collective identity as Yahweh’s people. They had their priorities in order.

Then they got distracted. When they started putting their own needs and security first, Yahweh sent the prophet Haggai to remind them of their true purpose: “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your houses that have been paneled while this house is desolate?… Consider your ways! You have sown much but have harvested little. You have eaten without being satisfied; you have drunk without being satiated; you have worn clothes without being warm; the one who earns wages puts it in a pouch with holes” (Hag 1:6).

The work that the Jewish exiles did outside of God’s purpose for them had no lasting effect or real merit. Because they were neglecting their first calling, their frantic attempts to meet their own selfish needs were doomed to fail anyway. Outside of Yahweh, there could be no blessing. God used Haggai to speak this truth into the lives of the Jewish exiles, but He also encouraged them with His presence: “I am with you” (Hag 1:13).

Listen to the words of Haggai. Speak truth into fear and selfishness—either your own or others. Remember that you’re not meant to travel through life on your own, outside of this great narrative or apart from the presence of God.

What is the priority in your life right now? How can you shift away from priorities that aren’t part of God’s grand scheme for your life?

Rebecca Van Noord is editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. She has developed content for several Bible reference products, including Lexham Bible Dictionary and Faithlife Study Bible.

Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional

Author: John D. Barry & Rebecca Van Noord

Publisher: Lexham Press

Publication Date: 2012

This 365-day devotional walks you through the Bible in a year, following a custom reading plan that delves into the stories of the Bible from five unique perspectives.