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1. Are you a “pack-rat” selective saver or a toss-it-all person? How far back do you keep letters? Christmas cards? Email? Bills? Taxes?
2. In what way do the events of verses 1 and 2 represent a new start (see chapter 4:24; Haggai 1:1; Zechariah 1:1)?
3. Why does the author retrace the rebuilding effort to Shealtiel (verse 2; see 1 Chronicles 3:17 – 19)?
4. “At that time” (verse 3) can be dated to the period from August 29 to December 18, 520 BC, one year after the Babylonians failed in their revolt against Persia (November, 521 BC). How does that help account for what’s going on in verses 3 – 5?
5. What about this episode is seen as a blessing from God? Why?
6. How is God’s hand of blessing evident in Tattenai’s letter to Darius (verses 6 – 17)? What human instruments has God evidently been using to bless and discipline His people?
7. What is the status of this re-building project to date? Who is to be credited (or blamed) for the “rapid progress” (verse 8)? How about for the “unfinished task” (verse 16)?
8. In 536 BC Sheshbezzar presided over laying the temple foundation (verses 14 – 16), and in 520 BC Zerubbabel presided over laying a second foundation (see Haggai 1:14, 15). How do you account for that 16-year delay (see Zechariah 4:6 – 10)? Explain your answer. (Note: Some believe Sheshbezzar [verse 14] was the Babylonian name for Zerubbabel, meaning the two were the same person.)
- Israel suffers from strong opposition?
- From lack of legal authority?
- From lack of spiritual power?
- From internal lethargy?
- Good things, done right, take time?
9. In your life, what has taken many years to get right? How do you account for the delay?
10. In the work God has given you to do, when is His hand of blessing obvious to you?
- In warding off opponents, as in chapter 5:5?
- In “making rapid progress,” as in chapter 5:8?
- Often in construction delays?
- Only in the project’s completion, as in chapter 6:15 – 17?