If you have not already done so, please read the "Introduction to the Prophetical Books."
Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi are called the "postexilic prophets" because they prophesied to the exiles who returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity (586 B.C.). Yesterday, we learned that the work on the rebuilding of the temple was stopped in 530 B.C. If you are reading this book separately from our semi-chronological study, read the post for Ezra 4 HERE.
Here is a review of where Haggai fits in historically:
Ezra 4:1-5 (Cyrus, 559-530) (Reigns of Cambyses [530-522] and Smerdis )
Haggai (Darius I, 521-486)
Esther (Xerxes/Ahasuerus, 485-465)
Ezra 4:6-23 (Xerxes/Ahasuerus - Artaxerxes, 464-424)
Ezra 7:1-10:44 (Artaxerxes)
Ezra 7:1-10:44 (Artaxerxes)
During this 10 year hiatus, the people were busy building their own homes and careers. In 520 B.C., Haggai exhorted the people to get their priorities in order and called them to rebuild the temple. Temple work resumed that year just 23 days after Haggai's first message. If only all the other prophets had gotten that quick of a response!
The book is a series of four messages:
1) Call to rebuild the temple: August 520 (1:1-15)
2) Promise of the future glory of the temple: October 520 (2:1-9)
3) Blessings for a defiled people: December 520 (2:10-19)
4) Promise to a Servant: December 18, 520 (2:20-23)The Scarlet Thread of Redemption
The fourth message was addressed to Zerubbabel, the leader of the work (see post for Ezra 4 HERE). He prophesied of the overthrow of Gentile kingdoms much like Daniel 2 prophesies of a worldwide messianic kingdom that would reign (Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45). Zerubbabel is compared to a "signet ring" which was a seal of royal authority pressed in soft wax on written documents. God was reaffirming and guaranteeing his promise of the Messiah, Jesus, through David's line. Zerubbabel is in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:12.
The people were not living by God's priorities, ignoring His work, and doing their own thing by building up their own homes and lives. Sounds quite a bit like the Church today!
I read the book of Haggai as I was working at a used homeschool curriculum sale and overheard the talk of a group of five middle-schoolers. I was so sad to hear what they valued and sought after. They are still in process, but their priorities are not lined up with God's yet. I pray that they will be soon!
Last fall, I read a sweet book by Billy Graham called Nearing Home. They are the reflections of a man nearing the end of his journey here on earth, and he gives wisdom and insight from Haggai:
NEARING HOME WITH GOD'S STRENGTH
True joy is derived from depending on the Lord Jesus. He is the One who supplies our strength in weakness, for when we are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). While it is important to put our own house in order, we must not forget to make the things of God the center of our thinking and doing. This was certainly the state of mind for the prophet Haggai, who wrote the second shortest book in the Old Testament at the approximate age of seventy. Haggai was stirred up by the Lord to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem following the Babylonian captivity. In turn he stirred up God's people by rebuking them for allowing the house of God to remain in ruins in their homeland: "Give careful thought to your ways . . . You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little . . . Why? . . . Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house" (Haggai 1:7-9).
What stirs me about this two-chapter book is Haggai's rebuke along with his encouragement. Haggai mobilized God's people to take care of God's business and build up His house by giving them hope: "Be strong . . . For I am with you" (Haggai 2:4).
We may be successful in putting our personal affairs in place, but if we do it at the sacrifice of the more important -- putting our spiritual affairs in order -- we miss the joy and purpose of life. The Bible says, "A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength" (Proverbs 24:5 NKJV). Strength is found in the wisdom of God, and that is at our disposal whether young or old.
Are you concerned only about taking care of business in a world that holds you captive? Or are you setting Christ at the center of your life with the assurance that you will abide with Him for eternity -- the place where hope becomes reality? Your strength may fade, but He is the One who will lift you up and help you stand strong in your weakness. When your faith begins to fade, ask the Lord to stir it up by considering all He has done for you, and be strong, for "My Spirit remains among you; do not fear" (Haggai 2:5 NKJV).
(Nearing Home, p. 91-92)
Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). There are blessings with right priorities.
"Aligning your goals with God's goals is the path to spiritual success."
(The Daily Walk, May 2, 2008, p. 7)
How are your goals lining up?
The spiritual classic "Tyranny of the Urgent" by Charles E. Hummel is a "must read" for every believer! It will help you examine your priorities according to God's priorities!
Lord, there is such great blessing by living our life according to Your plan. Help us to submit to Your plan with JOY! Amen.