Haggai is a report on the utterances of the prophet Haggai during the second year of the reign of Darius, king of the Persian Empire, in the postexilic period. The prophet is singularly concerned with the rebuilding of the Temple, which is essential to restoring the nation’s religious purity. Haggai also believes that a great messianic age is at hand.
Two key passages to look at:
Haggai 1:7-8 – “Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the LORD.”
Haggai 2:7-9 – “And I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the LORD of hosts. The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
Key Chapter: Haggai 2
Observations about Haggai:
– With the Babylonian exile in the past and a newly returned group of Jews back to the land, the work of rebuilding the temple can begin.
– The rebuilding of the temple began in 536 B.C., then after two years of work was discontinued in 534 B.C.
– The work was resumed in 520 B.C. and completed four years later in 516 B.C.
– Six years of actual work done over a twenty-year period.
– Haggai preaches a fiery series of sermonettes designed to stir up he nation to finish the temple.
– He calls the builders to renew courage in the Lord, holiness of life, and faith in God who controls the future.
– Haggai is know only from this book and from two other references to him, both in the book of Ezra.
– Darius I (521-486 B.C.) was king of Persia during the ministries of Haggai and Zechariah.
— He was a strong ruler who consolidated his kingdom by defeating a number of revolting nations.
– Haggai 2:9 – “The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.” The promise of this passage points ahead to a crucial role the second temple is to have in God’s redemptive plan.
– Haggai 2:23 – “In that day, says the LORD of hosts, I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel, says the LORD, and will make you as a signet ring; for I have chosen you, says the LORD of hosts.”
– Zerubbabel becomes the center of the messianic line and like a signet ring, seals both branches together.
– Haggai’s basic theme is clear: the remnant must reorder its priorities and complete the temple before it can expect the blessing of God to rest upon its efforts. Because of spiritual indifference the people fail to try to respond to God’s attempts to get their attention.
– In their despondency they do not realize that their hardships are divinely given symptoms of their spiritual disease.
– Haggai brings them to an understanding that circumstances become difficult when people place their own selfish interests before God’ s.
– When they put God first and seek to do his will, He will bring His people joy and prosperity.
Haggai is second only to Obadiah in brevity among Old Testament books, but this strong and series of four terse sermons accomplishes its intended effect.
The work on the temple has ceased, and the people have become more concerned with the beautification of their own houses than with the building of the central sanctuary of God. Because of their misplaced priorities, their labor is no longer blessed by God. Only when the people put the Lord first by completing the task he has set before them will His hand of blessing once again be upon them.
Haggai acts as God’s man in God’s hour.
There are four major divisions in the book:
When the remnant returns from Babylon under Zerubbabel, they begin to rebuild the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. However, the work soon stops and the people find excuses to ignore it as the years pass. They have no problem building “paneled houses” (1:4) for themselves while they claim in Haggai 1:2 that the time for building the temple has not come. Remember, “When you don’t want to loan your goat, any excuse will do.” God withdraws His blessing and they sink into an economic depression. However, because of their indifference to God and indulgence of self, they do not recognize what is happening, so God communicates directly to the remnant through His prophet Haggai.
Zerubbabel the governor, Joshua the high priest, and all the people respond, and twenty-three days later they again begin to work on the temple.
In a few short weeks, the enthusiasm of the people sours into discouragement. The elders remember the glory of Solomon’s temple and bemoan the puniness of the
present temple. (Ezra 3:8-13) Haggai’s prophetic word of encouragement reminds the people of two things: God’s covenant promises in the past (2:4-5) and of His confident plans for the future (2:6-9). Verse 9 – “The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former” (2:9)
Haggai’s message to the priests illustrates the concept of contamination (2:11-13) and applies it to the nation (2:14-19). The Lord requires holiness and obedience, and the contamination of sin blocks the blessing of God. Because the people have obeyed God in building the temple, they will be blessed from
that day forward.
On the same day that Haggai addresses the priests, he gives a second message to Zerubbabel.
God will move in judgment, and in his power will overthrow the nations of the earth (2:21-22).
At the same time, Zerubbabel, a symbol of the Messiah to come, will be honored.