Haggai Commentary Introduction
Let’s open our Bibles to the Book of Haggai. Haggai – Zechariah – Malachi – Matthew
The year was 520 BC. God’s people had returned from exile in Persia in 539– 19 years earlier. They came for one major purpose – to rebuild the Temple that had been destroyed by Babylon in 586. According to the Book of Ezra the Jews returned to their homeland and gave sacrificially to that work of rebuilding the Temple of Yahweh. They not only gave financially, but in the second year of their being there – 537 or 538 BC – they actually started the work of rebuilding the Temple – Cleaning off and re-using the stones that were still there. Getting wood to furnish it – since all the previous wood was burned. They even had a celebration commemorating the fact that they started this work. It was a great source of joy for them to be involved in rebuilding God’s temple.
And yet, right after the people start building, they face some opposition and stop their work. And so for about 16 or 17 years the Temple lies desolate. No one is working on it. It’s a eye-soar in the middle of Jerusalem. And yet the Jews are still there in the land. But they’ve abandoned the primary reason God sent them back to that land – to rebuild his Temple!
You and I can be like that, can’t we? Think of the numerous things that God has called us to do as Christians – evangelize the lost, edify the saints, worship and glorify him all the time, raise our families in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, be zealous for good works. The list can go on. We have a lot to do… Are we doing it? Have we been discouraged from doing God’s will?
The Jews who returned from exile were discouraged. And God is so gracious. He didn’t let them wallow in despair forever. He did however let the Jews just sit there for 17 years, not doing his will. Was God doing anything with them during those years? He was. He was actually making life difficult for them in an attempt to shake them out of their complacency. But actually that didn’t work. So finally, God decided he needed to step-in in an unmistakeable way and get his people’s attention. How would he do that? He sent two prophets. One was Zecharaiah. The other is the prophet whose book we’ll be studying today – Haggai.
In this book of Haggai we’re given five of Haggai’s messages from the Lord to his discouraged and somewhat unmotivated people. So I would summarize this book with this title – “Encouragements to do God’s Will”.
Haggai 1 Commentary
Learn more about Haggai 1 here.
Haggai 2 Commentary
Likewise, you can study Haggai 2 here.
Haggai Commentary Conclusion
So, you might be wondering – how did Israel react to the prophecies of Haggai – these encouragements to do God’s will? We’re finishing this prophecy on the 24th day of the 9th month in the 2nd year of Darius. After that, chronologically speaking, the book of Ezra records this – “And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it”. And it goes on to tell us that the Jews finished the Temple on the 3rd day of the 12th month in Darius’ 6th year. Haggai started his prophecy in the 6th month of the 2nd year of Darius. How long did it take for the Jews to finish the Temple, then? 3 ½ years. How long had they waited and dragged their heals before starting the work? Probably about 17 years. They could have saved a lot of time just getting to work and doing what God wanted them to do originally.
And isn’t that like you and me? How many times have we found ourselves wasting precious time putting off doing God’s will? But God is so gracious and patient. He will wait for you to do right. But in the mean time you and I loose out on numerous blessings and find ourselves facing some pretty tough situations – all because we’re so slow to obey God. May the Lord help us and encourage us to do his will.