Haggai

Haggai 1:1-11 A Call To Build God’s House.

Haggai is only two chapters, but he packed a lot in this book, and it is very pivotal in salvation history. A contemporary of Zechariah, they together sought to encourage the people to rebuild the temple, after the people returned from their captivity in Babylon (cf. Exra 5:1; 6:14).* They both began their ministry in “the second year of King Darius” (520 B.C.). These four messages through Haggai, “alternate between calls to repentance in light of God’s curses on their land (1:1-11; 2:10-19) and promises of greater blessings on the temple and of the Messiah through the Davidic line (2:1-9; 2:20-23)” (NGSB p.1459)

This word came by Haggai the prophet, to the governor (the political office), and the high priest (the religious office) (v. 1). It came from the LORD of hosts, the covenant name for God expanded to include the “hosts” (v. 2a). “Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi use the title “LORD of hosts” more than ninety times (fourteen times in Haggai). This title has military connotations (God as the leader of Israel’s armies, 1 Sam. 17:45), but also highlights God’s glory (Ps. 24:10) and sovereign kingship over all creation (Amos 4:13)” (Ibid. p.1459). It is as the King of glory, that He here commands His people to return to building the house of His glory.

The people kept putting off the work, but the LORD in His providence had opened up the way for them to resume and finish the work (vv. 2b-3 Cf. Ezra 5:1). There is a clear echo of that motivation which was at the heart of David’s first efforts, a work in fulfillment of a covenantal promise (v. 4 Cf. II Sam. 7:2). So the people were called to consider their ways (vv. 5, 7 Cf. Lam. 3:40). Verse six is a direct quote from the law which spoke of what would be a curse of the covenantal relationship, if they failed to obey, such as was occurring at this time (Cf. 1:9-10; 2:16-17; Dt. 28:38-40). This same message was communicated by other prophets (Cf. Hos. 8:7; Zech. 8:10).

The people ought to be motivated by God’s glory, and building the LORD’s house would bring Him glory (v. 8 Cf. Ezra 3:7). It is clear that the people did not have what they should have had, because they neglected to put the LORD and His house first (v. 9 Cf. 2:16-17). Again, because of this, they were suffering from the curses of the covenant relationship, according to the law, and testified to by history and the prophets (Cf. Lev. 26:19; Dt. 28:23; I Kgs. 8:35-36; Joel 1:18-20). “For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth (v. 11 I Kgs. 17:1; II Kgs. 8:1).

* “The Jews had returned to Palestine under the edict of the Persian king Cyrus in 538 B.C. and had begun to rebuild the temple. Opposition from the outside and discouragement from within caused them to abandon the project for about sixteen or seventeen years (Ezra 4:1-4). When Haggai and Zechariah began their work in 520 B.C., further opposition came from Tattenai, the Persian governor of Trans-Euphrates, which included Palestine (Ezra 5). But Darius I (Hystaspes), who ruled Persia from 522 to 486 B.C., reissued Cyrus’ edict so that the temple was rebuilt within four years (Ezra 6:13-15). The second temple was dedicated on March 2, 516 B.C.” (NGSB p.1459).

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