Notes from Haggai
So here’s Haggai and we’re nearing the end of the Minor Prophets. These last three books are the post-exilic prophets after the return of the Israelites back to the land of Judah. And this is a major event in the Bible, these 70 years. That is the time that occurs after the Kings of Judah come to an end, and Babylon takes all of Judah captive.
Jeremiah 29:10 says, “For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.”
And that 70 years is actually pretty hard to date exactly for the following reasons:
· There were waves of captivity deportations to Babylon.
· The year then was only 360 days which cuts off about a year in a 70 year time span compared to our 365-day year.
· There were multiple waves of Israelites returning from captivity.
· The most common dates given are 586-516 because the temple was destroyed in 586.
· It could also be that there were two overlapping periods of 70 years.
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says, “Note that it is important to keep these stages of the Captivity in mind when computing the seventy years of exile announced by Jeremiah 29:10; the interval between the first deportation in 605 B.C., in which Daniel himself was involved, and 536 B.C., when the first returnees under Zerubbabel once more set up an altar in Jerusalem, amounted to seventy years. Likewise, the interval between the destruction of the first temple by Nebuzaradan in 586 and the completion of the second temple by Zerubbabel in 516 was about seventy years.”
Daniel and Esther take place during the captivity, Ezra and Nehemiah are about returning back to Judah from captivity as well as these last three prophets.
So to study Haggai, you really have to know Ezra.
Let’s turn to Ezra 3 and read verses 6-13.
Verses 12 & 13 are really interesting and Haggai will answer that. Let’s read in Ezra ch. 4:1-6.
So they had a lot of opposition to deal with.
So Zerubbabel has money from Persian King Cyrus to build the temple, he had willing workers and everything was going to go well but they had a lot of resistance so they got pretty discouraged.
What was the right thing for them to do? Build the temple! Commands of men can never overrule the commands of God.
No let’s go to 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.
So through Haggai, God is telling the people what they are saying, and their excuse, because of the opposition faced was, “It’s not the right time for the Lord’s House to be built.” It’s not going super smooth so it must not be the right time is what they were basically saying to themselves.
What a perfect lesson for us when we say, “It’s just not the right time to tell that person about Jesus. It’s just not time to have a Bible study or prayer group or get involved at church or whatever!”
So then God gives His response:
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 [paneled] houses, and this house lie waste?
God is calling them out! They had no problem building fancy houses for themselves but they put off the building of the Lord’s House. Priorities! What’s Matthew 6:33 say?
God didn’t care at all about the opposition they were facing. It didn’t bother or concern Him; He wasn’t intimidated by it. Just like today, His instruction to gather together doesn’t take a break because we have an insane governor.
5 Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.
And this is perfect. God points out what they’re doing wrong and says, “Think about it.” It’s the same thing for us? Are we putting God first? If not, we should “consider our ways.” Very simple but strong message here in Haggai.
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.
The people were busy with their own homes and neglected the Temple.
Let’s go to verse 12.
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.
When you’re doing the Lord’s work, who is with you? So be not afraid and keep going! Again we have a simple but powerful message in Haggai.
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,
They obeyed God.
15 In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
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,
So remember at the end of Ezra chapter 3 the old guys were crying and the young fellows were happy? Well the first temple that was destroyed was built by Solomon and it was unbelievably magnificent. This new one couldn’t even come close.
God knows what they are feeling and gives an answer for them:
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?
Right? So God knows that they are pretty disappointed in this new temple and in a few verses we’ll see how God comforts them.
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;
Let’s look at Hebrews 12:26-28 for where this is quoted and explained.
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.
So here is the comfort for the people that the new temple would be greater than the former. I take this to mean that Jesus Christ will come into the new temple, since Jesus is our peace. Ephesians 2:14-18
The next section from verse 10-19 is talking about the unholiness of the priests and the nature of sin, how it spreads. The people often didn’t turn to God but now they are building the temple and God says, “I am with you.”
Check out verse 20:
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.
Sounds like the Day of the Lord.
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.
Now there’s a lot of discussion on this verse and what it means. The easiest solution is that Zerubbabel was an ancestor of Jesus Christ which is true. Another suggestion is that Zerubbabel will be the second witness in Revelation 11:3 which makes some sense considering his mention in Zechariah 4. Either way, we don’t know for sure.
So to wrap up, the big messages in Haggai are pretty simple:
Put God first.
God is with us.