These last three books of the Old Testament were all written after the time of the Babylonian Captivity. They tell of events back in the homeland of Judah. The messages of the three prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi were given during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah.
HAGGAI AND HIS BOOK
When the Jews first returned from the Captivity in 538 B.C. under the leadership of Zerubbabel, they made a good start at rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. But soon they were discouraged in their building project, and the work stopped completely (Ezra 4:4-5). Then the prophets Haggai and Zechariah began to stir up and encourage the people with their preaching (Ezra 5:1-2). Haggai began his preaching in 520 B.C., the second year of King Darius’ reign (Haggai 1:1). Through the prophets’ preaching the people were moved to start again the temple-building project. In 516 B.C. the restored temple was completed (Ezra 6:14-15). It had been 70 years since the first temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians. (Since the Bible sometimes dates these events and the prophets’ lives according to the rule of King Darius, it is helpful to remember that Darius ruled from 521-486 B.C.) We are given no information in the Bible about the personal life of the Prophet Haggai. We assume that he was born in Babylon during the Captivity and that he returned to Judah with the first group in 538 B.C. We can say only that his name means “festive,” that is, “relating to a feast or festival.” In his book with its two chapters, Haggai brings four messages or sermons to the people of Judah. His messages contain both correction and encouragement, that is, both Law and Gospel. The people first needed correction because their priorities were wrong. They were not putting spiritual things first. God and His temple were pushed aside while the people were selfishly thinking only of their own material comforts. Because they were not putting spiritual things first, God was even keeping from them the things they wanted so much: food, good clothes, savings, good crops, oil, etc. Haggai preached to the conscience of the people and asked: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house (the temple) remains a ruin?” (1:4). The people listened and the building project started again. As they built, Haggai encouraged and comforted them. He promised that God was with them as they built. When some were discouraged because the new temple was not as beautiful as Solomon’s former temple, Haggai comforted them again with a promise of the Messianic Kingdom. Through Christ God would grant peace to the world at the place of the new temple. God promised,”The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house … And in this place I will grant peace” (2:9). Read 2:6-9 for the whole Messianic promise.
A Theme for the Book of Haggai:
“Haggai Encourages to Rebuild the Temple”
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