Reading 0,07 - 2 Chapters - 38 verses - 1,131 words
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.
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).
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).
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.
Haggai Interpretive Challenges
The most prominent interpretive ambiguity within the prophecy is the phrase “what is desired by all nations” (2:7). Although many translations exist, there are essentially only two interpretations. Pointing to “The silver is mine and the gold is mine” (2:8), as well as to Isa 60:5 and Zec 14:14, some contend that it refers to Jerusalem, to which “what is desired” (the wealth of other nations) will be brought during the Millennium (Isa 60:11; 61:6). It seems preferable, however, to see a reference here to the Messiah, a Deliverer for whom all the nations ultimately long. Not only is this interpretation supported by the ancient rabbis and the early church, the mention of “glory” in the latter part of the verse suggests a personal reference to the Messiah (ISa 40:5; 60:1; Lk 2:32).
God's character in Haggai
God is glorious - 2:1-9
Christ in Haggai
The book of Haggai reveals Zerubbabel's significant place in the messianic line of David. His position, illustrated by a signet ring (2:23), continued the royal line of David through which Christ would come. Zerubbabel's name is found in both the ancestries of Mary (Luke 3:27) and Joseph (Matt 1:12), demonstrating his importance in grafting both branches of Christ's lineage together.