Haggai

חגי

2 Chapters, 38 verses, 1,131 words.


  




Vital Statistics


 Purpose:  To call the people to complete the rebuilding of the Temple
 Author:  Haggai 
 Original audience:  The people living in Jerusalem and those who had returned from exile 
 Date written:  520 B.C. 
 Setting:  The Temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed in 586 B.C. Cyrus had allowed the Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple in 538 B.C. They had begun the work but had been unable to complete it. Through the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah, the Temple was completed (520-516 B.C.)
 Key verse:  “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” (1:4)
 Key people:  Haggai, Zerubbabel, Jeshua 
 Key place:   Jerusalem 
 Special features:  Haggai was the first of the postexilic prophets. The other two were Zechariah and Malachi. The literary style of this book is simple and direct.  

Author

    Haggai (1:1) was a prophet who, along with Zechariah, encouraged the returned exiles to rebuild the temple (Ezr 5:1-2; 6:14). Haggai means "festal," which may indicate that the prophet was born during one of the three pilgrimage feasts (Unleavened Bread, Pentecost or Weeks, and Tabernacles; cf. Dt 16:16). Based on 2:3 Haggai may have witnessed the destruction of Solomon's temple. If so, he must have been in this 70's during his ministry.  



Background


    In 538 B.C. the conqueror of Babylon, Cyrus king of Persia, issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple (Ezr 1:2-4; 6:3-5). Led by Zerubbabel (Ezr 1:8), about 50,000 Jews journeyed home and began work on the temple. About two years later (536) they completed the foundation amid great rejoicing (Ezr 3:8-11). Their success aroused the Samaritans and other neighbors who feared the political and religious implications of a rebuilt temple in a thriving Jewish state. They therefore opposed the project vigorously and managed to halt work until 520, after Darius the Great became king of Persia in 522 (Ezr 4:1-5,24). 
    Darius was interested in the religions of his empire and Haggai and Zechariah began to preach in his second year, 520 B.C. (1:1; Zec 1:1). The Jews were more to blame for their inactivity than their opponents, and Haggai tried to arouse them from their lethargy. When the governor of Trans-Euphrates and other officials tried to interfere with the rebuilding efforts, Darius fully supported the Jews (Ezr 5:3-6; 6:6-12). In 516 the temple was finished and dedicated (Ezr 6:15-18). 



Date


    Haggai's messages are among the most carefully and precisely dated in the entire OT. They were given during a four-month period in 520 B.C., the second year of King Darius. The first message was delivered on the first day of the sixth month (Aug. 29), the last on the 24th day of the ninth month (Dec. 18). See 1:1; 2:1,10; see also introduction to Zechariah: Dates     



Themes and Theological Teaching


    Apart from Obadiah, Haggai is the shortest book in the OT, but its teachings are more the less significant. Haggai clearly shows the consequences of disobedience (1:6,11; 2:16-17) and obedience (2:7-9,19). When the people give priority to God and his house, they are blessed rather than cursed (cf. Lk 12:31). Obedience brings the encouragement and strength of the Spirit of God (2:4-5). 

    In ch. 2 God gives great encouragement to those laboring under difficult conditions to rebuild his temple by assuring them that the future glory of the modest temple they are able to build will be greater than that of the temple Solomon had built in the time of Israel's greatest wealth and power. The Jews in Judah may now be a much reduced community and under the hegemony of a powerful world empire, but the Lord will shake up the present world order and assert his claim to all the world's wealth so that the glory of his future temple will be without rival. "The desired of all nations will come, and will fill this house with glory" (2:6-7). 




Literary Features
    Like Malachi, Haggai uses a number of questions to highlight key issues (1:4,9; 2:3,19). He also makes effective uses of repetition: "Give careful thought" occurs in 1:5,7; 2:15,18, and "I'm with you" in 1:13; 24. "I will shake the heavens and the earth" is found in 2:6,21. The major sections of the book are marked off by the date on which the word of the Lord came "through" (or "to" Haggai (1:1; 2:1,10,20). 

    Several times the prophet appears to reflect other passages of Scripture (compare 1:6 with Dt 28:38-39 and 2:17 with Dt 28:22). The threefold use of "Be strong" in 2:4 echoes the encouragement given in Jos 1:6-7,9,18. 




Outline


 I. First Message: THe Call to Rebuild the Temple (1:1-11) A. The People's Lame Excuse (1:1-4)
 B. The Poverty of the People (1:5-6)
 C. The Reason God Has Cursed Them (1:7-11)
 II. THe Response of Zerubbabel and the People (1:12-15) A. The Leaders and RemnanT Obey (1:12)
 B. The Lord Strengthens the Workers (1:13-15)
 III. Second Message: The Temple to Be Filled with Glory (2:1-9) A. The People Encouraged (2:1-5)
 B. The Promise of God and Peace (2:6-9)
 IV. Third Message: A Defiled People Purified and Blessed (2:10-19) A. The Rapid Spread of SIn (2:10-14)
 B. Poor Harvests because of Disobedience (2:15-17)
 C. Blessing to Come as the Temple Is Rebuilt
 V.  Fourth Message: THe Promise to Zerubbabel (2:20-23) A. The Judgment of the Nations (2:20-22)
 B. The Significance of Zerubbabel (2:23)




Notes 


 Month in Haggai Covenant Curses  Workshop