Haggai was the first prophet to speak the Word of God to Israel after they returned from Babylonian captivity. His message to the returning Israelites encouraged both the spiritual and moral reconstruction of Solomon’s Temple, which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. The Book of Haggai is part of “The Restoration Period” (536-420 B.C.) that is spoken about in detail in the books Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.
In 536 B.C., Priest Zerubbabel led the remnant Israelites numbering almost fifty thousand back to Jerusalem to begin construction of the new Temple, referred to later as the Temple of Zerubbabel. Building on the same site as the first Temple, work ceased after about ten years of reconstruction because of political pressures and problems. Persian King Darius, the ruling monarch in 521 B.C., was interested in law, which led to him granting permission to the Jews to start the rebuilding project once again.
In 520 B.C., Haggai delivered the words of the LORD to stir the Israelites to start the building the Temple. Haggai spoke to the remnant about their spiritual and religious needs that were centered upon the rebuilding of the LORD God’s House. His ministry, lasting for just four short months, generated enthusiasm and motivated the Israelites to continue the rebuilding project. The Temple of Zerubbabel was finally completed in the sixth year of Darius’ rule in 516 B.C.
In the beginning of the rebuild, as the less spacious and less magnificent Temple of Zerubbabel began taking shape before the Israelites eyes, they were perplexed. To re-inspire their effort, Haggai promised them that the LORD God was with their efforts and predicted the future Temple would have more splendor than the former house of the LORD God. His prophecy would later support not only Israel’s religious restoration, but proclaim the shadow of Jesus Christ, as he restored believers through the most perfect tabernacle through his being.
The identity of “Haggai the Prophet”, author of the “Book of Haggai,” is uncertain. Nothing is known of his personal history, except for brief mention in Ezra 5:1 and 6:14. Although some suggest that Haggai 2:3 hints that Haggai was one of a group of Israelites that had seen Solomon’s Temple in its former glory (“Book of Haggai Introduction”, King James Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1988. 1356.), there is not enough evidence to support this claim. Although his age or origin in Biblical history is unknown, Haggai’s ministry as a prophet was raised perfectly in the specific time and place to move God’s people forward, rebuild His Temple, and accomplish His Will.
The Book of Haggai draws attention to common problems most people face even today. Haggai asks us 1) to examine our priorities to see if we are more interested in our own pleasures than doing the work of God; 2) to reject a defeatist attitude when we run into opposition or discouraging circumstances; 3) to confess our failures and seek to live pure lives before God; 4) to act courageously for God because we have the assurance that He is with us always and is in full control of our circumstances; and 5) to rest secure in God’s hands knowing that He will abundantly bless us as we faithfully serve Him.
1:1-15 The people urged to build the temple by Haggai
1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son
of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, 2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. 3 Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 [Is it] time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house [lie] waste? 5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. 6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages [to put it] into a bag with holes. 7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. 9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, [it came] to little; and when ye brought [it] home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that [is] waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. 10 Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed [from] her fruit. 11 And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the
mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon [that] which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.
12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD. 13 Then spake Haggai the LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message unto the people, saying, I [am] with you, saith the LORD. 14 And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, 15 In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king. (Haggai 1:1-15 AV)
2:1-9 The glory of the new temple
1 In the seventh [month], in the one and twentieth [day] of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying, 2 Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, 3 Who [is] left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? [is it] not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? 4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I [am] with you, saith the LORD of hosts: 5 [According to] the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of
Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. 6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it [is] a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry [land]; 7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. 8 The silver [is] mine, and the gold [is] mine, saith the LORD of hosts. 9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.
2:10-19 Unfaithfulness reproved by Haggai
10 In the four and twentieth [day] of the ninth [month], in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, 11 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests [concerning] the law, saying, 12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or
oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. 13 Then said Haggai, If [one that is] unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. 14 Then answered Haggai, and said, So [is] this people, and so [is] this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so [is] every work of their hands; and that which they offer there [is] unclean. 15 And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the LORD: 16 Since those [days] were, when [one] came to an heap of twenty [measures], there were [but] ten: when [one] came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty [vessels] out of the press, there were [but] twenty. 17 I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye [turned] not to me, saith the LORD. 18 Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth [month, even] from the day that the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid, consider [it]. 19 Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless [you].
2:20-23 The Lord’s promise to Zerubbabel
20 And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth
[day] of the month, saying, 21 Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; 22 And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. 23 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts. (Haggai 2:1-23 AV)
This is the end of Haggi