Welcome to our Bible Study Series on the Minor Prophets.
This is – Haggai, A Call to Obey God
Click on the link above for the study session. Find the notes below.
Haggai, A Call to Obey God:
- We’ve looked at Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. Some of these men’s ministries overlapped, others were lonesome, burdened with a hardened people and an unwelcoming message for their time.
- Coming to the final three prophets; Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi all ministered after the Babylonian captivity in 586 BC. Their objective was to encourage their spiritual and moral life of this remnant, now back in their home land, as they sought to rebuild the temple and the nation.
- Haggai and Zechariah dealt mostly with the spiritual needs as they related to the rebuilding of the temple and Malachi dealt primarily with the moral and social needs involved with the reconstruction of the nation itself.
1. Haggai’s Setting:
- Under the policies of Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, almost 50,000 Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem. Among these were Zerubbabel, Joshua the high priest and the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah. This decree allowing the Jews to return to their land and rebuild their temple occurred in 538 B.C.
- The prophet Haggai is known only from this book and from two references to him in Ezra 5:1 and 6:14. There he is seen working alongside the younger prophet Zechariah in the ministry of encouraging the rebuilding of the temple.
- Haggai returned from Babylon with the Remnant under Zerubbabel and evidently lived in Jerusalem. Some interpret chapter 2:3 to mean that he was born in Judah before the 586 BC destruction of the first Temple, which led to the Babylonian Captivity. This would mean Haggai was about seventy-five when he prophesied in 520 BC.
- The returning exiles met with strong opposition from the Samaritans in the land, and work on the temple stopped in 534 B.C. It was in this context that God called His prophets Haggai and Zechariah to the same task of urging the people to complete the temple.
- Now Haggai preached four sermons dated in the year 520 BC. See Haggai, along with Zechariah and Malachi, faced a different situation than all the other prophets. Those earlier prophets confronted a people who tended to depend upon physical ceremonies and buildings rather than on a true relationship with God marked by obedience.
- In contrast, the postexilic prophets ministered to a discouraged and apathetic people who were tempted to believe that nothing they did made any difference from a religious standpoint. It was in this context that God called His prophets Haggai and Zechariah to the same task of urging the people to complete the temple.
2. Haggai’s Purpose:
- Haggai’s basic theme is clear: the remnant must reorder its priorities and complete the temple before it can expect the blessings of God. The four messages recorded by Haggai may be entitled:
- the completion of the latter temple (1:1–15),
- the glory of the latter temple (2:1–9),
- the present blessings of obedience (2:10–19),
- and the future blessings of promise (2:20–23).
- Haggai spoke to a people whose spiritual indifference blinded them to God’s attempts to get their attention. In their despondency, they did not realize that their hardships were divinely given symptoms of their spiritual disease. Now Haggai brought them to an understanding that circumstances become difficult when people place their own selfish interest before God’s. Yet the lesson is, when they put God first and seek to do His will, then God will bring His people joy and prosperity.
3. Haggai’s Message:
- Haggai was one of the few prophets whose message brought quick and tangible results. Only twenty-three days after his first message, the people began to work on the temple for the first time in fourteen years. Founding the second temple marked a major turning point in God’s dealing with His covenant people.
- Haggai wrote to encourage and exhort the returned remnant to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. In the process of this he taught (1) God blesses His people when they put Him first, (2) that we should not grow weary in the service of the Lord, and that (3) God’s promises for tomorrow become the foundation for our confidence for today.
4. The Book’s Application:
- Let’s start with Christ. Here Messiah is portrayed as the Restorer of the Temple’s glory (2:7-9) and the Overthrower of the kingdoms of the world (2:22). The promise of chapter 2:9, points ahead to the crucial role the second temple is to have in God’s redemptive plan, as it was filled with the glory of God incarnate every time Christ came to Jerusalem.
- The Messiah is also portrayed in the person of Zerubbabel in 2:23: “‘I will take you, Zerubbabel…and I will make you as a signet ring; for I have chosen you.’” Zerubbabel becomes the centre of the messianic line.
- Haggai teaches us that:
- God was faithful to restore His people to the Promised Land after their captivity
- We must give careful thought to our ways
- God and His Word must take priority over our own selfish personal agendas
- Rationalizing or excusing disobedience does not make it any less sin
- Opposition and difficulties do not nullify God’s commands
- The Word of God preached in power exhorts and encourages
- We should not fear anything or anyone when we are doing God’s work for He is with us
- Sin is contagious and will corrupt others
- Righteousness is not transferable
- God blesses obedience
- If we neglect God and His work nothing else we do will ultimately prosper