Today we begin our journey through the Old Testament book of Haggai. If you walked with us through the book of Ezra, you were introduced briefly to Haggai (Ezra 5:1, 6:14).
We know very little about Haggai. His family lineage was not disclosed; however, he must have been well-known and respected in his day, as people seemed to listen to him. We do know that he was a prophet (from the Ezra passages); some scholars think he might have also been a priest, although that is unlikely, as Haggai goes to a priest for a ruling on whether a particular practice is clean or unclean (Haggai 2:10-13).
The book of Haggai lists very precise time frames; the entire book covers (in our modern calendars) from the end of August to the middle of December in the year 520 BC. All these recorded events happened during the reign of King Darius.
The book is focused on Haggai’s ministry of encouragement among the exiles who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. This four-month period was crucial in the history of the Jewish people and the rebuilding of the Temple.
The authorship of the book is debated among scholars; some say that Haggai wrote the book, while others believe that a group of scribes in Haggai’s day captured the momentous events. While the author of the book may unclear, the message is laser focused.
Let’s take a moment to review the historical background that we know from the books of Jeremiah and Ezra:
- The Jews turn their back on God, and God allows Nebuchadnezzar to capture Jerusalem and exile the majority of the Jewish people to Babylon (the message and history captured in the book of Jeremiah).
- Cyrus becomes king; he releases a group of Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple (Ezra chapters 1 – 2)
- The returning exiles rebuild the altar and resume sacrifices to the Lord, then lay the Temple foundation (Ezra chapter 3)
- The neighboring non-Jewish ethnic groups figure out what’s taking place, and oppose the rebuilding of the Temple to the point that the work stops (Ezra 4:24)
- Haggai and Zechariah encourage Zerubbabel to finish what the Lord called them to do – to rebuild the Temple (Ezra chapters 5 – 6)
Here is the general outline for the book of Haggai:
- The Lord’s command to rebuild the Temple (1:1-11)
- The people’s positive response (1:12-15)
- The promised glory of the new Temple (2:1-9)
- Blessings for an unclean (defiled) people (2:10-19)
- Zerubbabel is chosen as the Lord’s seal for His people (2:20-23)
This little book is short – only two chapters – but is packed with truth and relevance to both the history of Israel as well as our world today.
Join us as we begin our journey through the book of Haggai.