An overview of the book of Haggai
THEME: “Encouraging the Returning Jews to Recommence the Rebuilding of the Temple”
INTRODUCTION: The Jews had been in captivity for 70 years. King Cyrus had granted permission to Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. He took with him about 50,000 people, and they began to reconstruct. During their first year back in Jerusalem, they set up the altar of sacrifice and did work on the foundations of the temple. The laborers, however, were interrupted by the opposition of their adversaries, and soon the people became indifferent to the temple. Their time and energies were devoted to their homes and personal comforts. This state of things dragged on for 15 years. In 520 B.C. Haggai, the prophet, brought them to a sense of their responsibility and set before them the claims of Jehovah. The prophet’s voice was once more heard in Israel. It aroused them to action, and in five years the temple was completed and dedicated in 515 B.C.
It was during these critical moments in Israel and Judah that the prophet was the outstanding figure denouncing, warning, instructing and encouraging the people. In this particular critical moment the prophet is at hand by divine appointment, commissioned to stimulate obedience to Jehovah, to set before them the real meaning of their return, and to keep them in the line of duty.
Haggai was an older man. There was another prophet, Zechariah, who was commissioned along with him to encourage the Israelites to recommence the reconstruction of the temple.
Haggai focused upon the rebuilding of the temple. During the rebuilding of the Temple the people faced much opposition from public officials who operated under the color of law.
Haggai exhorted the people to obey God rather than the unlawful bureaucrats (Ezra 5:1; Acts 5:29).
Haggai 1:2 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.
The people said it was not the right time to build the temple because they feared the de facto public officials (Ezra 4:4-24). When people fear the government, there is tyranny; but when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
The point of this message is the spiritual takes precedence over the physical (Matthew 6:33). When a person takes care of the spiritual duties, many of the physical duties will take care of themselves(1Cor. 9:7-18). When the physical duties take precedence in a person’s life, God will take away some of the physical possessions because the possessions have become images of idolatry (Deut. 8:7-20).
Idolatry is committed when a person covets things (Luke 12:15-21; Col. 3:5; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; Hebrews 13:5). In a free and prosperous society one of the greatest tools of Satan to get believers away from God is by getting people sidetracked with the physical duties of life (Matt. 13:22; Mark 4:19).
One of the greatest hindrances to the public preaching of the Gospel and the truth is the human desire to get wealth (Acts 19:25; 1 Timothy 6:9-10).
Haggai 1:5 Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.
CONSIDER YOUR WAYS
Stop and think seriously about your life. Analyze yourself.
Do you spend more time in the books of men then the inspired book of God? (2 Timothy 2:15)
Do you take more time to eat physically then to eat spiritually? (Job 23:12)
Do you believe the words of man more than the words of God? (Ps 12:6-7; 1 Thess. 2:13)
Do you talk about man and his affairs more than you talk about God and his word? (1 Peter 4:11)
Do you give more money to man and his inventions than to God and his eternal work? (Mal. 3:8-11)
Do you sacrifice for strangers more than you do for your family? (Gal. 6:10)
Do you love your fellow man more than God? (Matthew 22:35-40)
Do you serve the creation more than the Creator? (Rom. 1:25)
Are you more concerned in offending man rather than God? (Matt. 15:12-14)
Do you live for selfish desires rather than internal desires? (Mark 8:35-36)
Do you plan for Temporal things more than internal things? (2 Cor. 4:18)
Do you fear man more than God? (Matt. 10:28)
Do you seek to please man and yourself more than God? (John 8:29; Rom. 8:8; 1 Thess. 4:1-7; 2 Tim. 2:3-5)
Are you more diligent and precise and your legal words in the internal words of God? (Luke 4:4)
Do you know your destinations in your travel of life more than your eternal destination of heaven or hell? (1 John 5:13)
The questions to analyze your actions and attitudes are endless. Consider your ways until you die. Regular checkups are necessary for a healthy spiritual life.
When events or things do not go according to your plans or when you have problems, who do you blame?
Most problems in life are self-inflicting.
Hosea 13:9 O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.
The three main enemies of the believer are the world, the flesh, and the devil, but only one is personally with you at all times and that is the flesh. Flesh spelled backward is s-e-l-f without the “h”.
When things go wrong, look in the mirror first.
Perform a spiritual checkup first. Analyze your mental and emotional state second. Consider the physical cause and effects last.
The common excuse the Devil made me do it is a blatant lie because Satan can only be in one place at the time. The devil focuses upon casting doubt upon the word of God through deceived Bible revisers (Gen. 3:1; Luke 4:9-12) and establishing a global religion under Rome and Islam (1 Timothy 4:1-6; Rev. 18:2). The greatest enemy of every person is self or the flesh (Matthew 16:24-26).
Haggai 1:10-11 Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit.
11 And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.
Notes on Haggai 1:10
God does not have to exert himself to get man’s attention.
When God turns off the water, man is helpless (Gen. 41:54; 2 Kings 8:1; 2 Chron. 6:26-28; Zech. 14:16-19).
Acts of God in nature are designed to exploit the weakness of man and to exalt the power of God (Deut. 8:15; Isaiah 58:11).
God’s purpose for a famine is for spiritual game, but evil men contrive man-made famines to kill people and cause economic turmoil to control the masses (Rev. 13:16-18).
Haggai 1:13 Then spake Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord.
Notes on Haggai 1:13b
The flesh shuns right living; therefore, most people avoid the truth.
They see the negative aspects of right living. The grace to do right is not dispensed until the commencement of the action (2 Cor. 9:6-11; Eph. 3:14-19).
The inner joy and peace of right living are not dispensed until after the right act (Rom. 4:17; Gal. 5:22-23). This is why people often wonder why they did not get saved earlier or why they hesitated to yield to the spirit because the joyful rewards are not given until the act is fulfilled.
God places the negative outlook before the right action in order to prove the sincerity of the act (Num. 13:30-33). If God gave the reward first, man would serve God for the wrong reasons (John 2:23-25; 6:15).
God places the negative before the positive in order to test man’s love for him (Gen. 22:11-12; 2 Tim. 3:12).
Haggai 2:20-23 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.
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.
This very short book with the five brief messages of Haggai reveals the power of the pure words of God. The right word that is spoken at the right time to the right person with the right spirit can have everlasting consequences (Prov. 18:21; 25:11). Ezra gave a very brief message from God to the remnant of Israel that produced national revival (Ezra 9-10). Jonah preached eight negative words to the people of Nineveh that produced the greatest citywide revival in history. Haggai asked questions to probe the mind and heart. A proper question that is asked under the direction of the Holy Ghost can probe the conscience of man and bring conviction. Pray for the right words to be spoken at the right time to the right person under the power of the right spirit to be an effective witness for Jesus Christ (Prov. 16:20; Acts 4:31; Col. 4:2-6).
THE OUTLINE OF THE BOOK. This prophecy consists of four discourses by the prophet Haggai. The book may be outlined by these discourses as follows:
1) The indifference of the people regarding the temple. While they were seeking their comfort in their own homes, the temple was in a desolate condition.
2) The prophet’s interpretation of the drought.
3) The people are aroused to action.
1) Haggai offers words of encouragement.
2) He compares the second temple to the first.
1) The prophet reminds them of the effect the neglect of duty will have upon their national interest.
2) He reminds them of the changed conditions and divine favor. He assures them of God’s blessings if they will rebuild.
1) This discourse is addressed to Zerubbabel.
2) Zerubbabel is assured of honor and protection by Jehovah if he will continue God’s work.
3) When nations are in terror because of approaching judgments, Zerubbabel will be in the care and keeping of God.
III. SEVEN TYPES OF PROPHETS. There are seven types of prophets, starting with Isaiah and ending with Malachi, as follows:
CONCLUSION: A fine lesson would be to use these seven steps (or at least six of them) in comparing the captivity and rebuilding to a child who is going to be punished. Notice the following: