Haggai Haggai is the first of the prophets which are post-exilic or who prophesied after the captivity. The other two are Zechariah and Malachi. They belong to the period told about in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther. The historical background for Haggai’s prophecy is found in Ezra 5 and 6.
Haggai and Zechariah aided in building the Temple (520-516 B.C.). Malachi is thought to have been associated with Nehemiah, nearly one hundred years later, in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem.
A. THEME After seventy years of captivity in Babylon, about 50,000 Jews returned to their own land in 536 B.C., and began to build the Temple. But they had scarcely begun when the work was halted by their enemy neighbors, the Samaritans.
The people who had returned with so much enthusiasm lost heart. For sixteen years the Temple remained unfinished until the reign of Darius, when the Persian king issued an order permitting its completion.
But in the meantime, the people had become indifferent and selfish, and instead of building the Temple, they were occupied with the beautifying of their own homes. As a result of this negligence, they were punished with drought and barrenness.
The theme of the book then is as follows: The neglect of the Temple’s completion resulted in divine displeasure and punishment. Completion will bring divine blessing and promise of future glory.
AUTHOR Little is known of the personal history of Haggai except that he prophesied after the captivity and that his missions was to encourage the people to rebuild the Temple.
CONTENTS First Message: The Neglect of the Second Temple’s Completion (1:1-1,15) Although the people made excuses, the prophet pinpointed the cause of neglecting to rebuild the Temple as selfishness. The punishment for this sin was drought and barrenness. He urged them to repent and to set to work.
2. The Second Message: The Glory of the Second Temple (2:1-9) The people’s discouragement was met with divine encouragement, a prophecy of future glory.
3. The Third Message: Sacrifice Without Obedience Will Not Sanctify (2:10-19) In the third message, Haggai gave a parable. Sin can mar holiness, but holiness cannot cleanse sin. Their disobedience had polluted the land (verses 15-18). However, from the day that the foundation of the Temple was laid, God promised to bless them.
4. The Fourth Message: The Safety and Perpetuity of the House of Israel (2:20-23) The coming world commotion is certain. Yet there is an assurance of safety for God’s people.