Introduction to Haggai – We know nothing about Haggai’s family lineage. His name apparently means “festal” or possibly “feast of Yahweh.” Ezra mentioned that through the prophetic ministries of Haggai and Zechariah, the returned Jewish exiles, resumed and completed the restoration of their temple. In 520 B.C., as a result of changes in the Persian government and the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah, the people resumed rebuilding the temple and finished it in 515 B.C. Haggai’s ministry on earth was a few years after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. The Jews were back in Jerusalem via Cyrus’ work orchestrated by God. Now it was time to motivate the people to be serious with God and rebuild the Temple.

Haggai 1 – The people were not very committed to God although He had returned them to Jerusalem after several years of exile in Babylon. So Haggai proclaims to the governor and high priest that the people do not think it’s time to rebuild the Temple. God, however, intervenes with His own message: It is time, and the reason the people are working with little to show for it is because they are not motivated to serve Him via the Temple and all their ways of living. They lived in their comfortable houses while God had no house. This was a poor reflection on their loves and priorities. As a result, the governor and high priest and the people were stirred by God to revere Him and obey His voice regarding the Temple, and hopefully, their ways of living.

Application for Today: Often Christians do not think twice about buying luxurious items but balk at giving money to finance Christian causes. They may judge OT Jews harshly without perceiving similarities in themselves. If we give to God only when we have an abundance, then we will not have an abundance in God.

Haggai 2 – God responds favorably to the people’s obedience. He told them to take courage and not to fear because He will be with them. Although a new Temple would be completed in Haggai’s day, God seems to launch into the far-distant prophetic realm by perhaps describing heaven on earth – all nations will bring their wealth to His house and the latter glory will be greater than the former (I don’t think “gold and silver” are literal – since when are these important to God?); God would also overthrow all the kingdoms of earth. I think He is talking about the difference between what He did in the OT time (emphasis on physical things) and what He will do under the NT (spiritual things). I do not recall a time in history since Haggai’s prophetic words here, that Israel gleaned the “wealth” (literal gold and silver) from all nations. Part of God’s Plan A (there is no Plan B) is to establish His government forever. No earthly government (kingdom) will last forever, only His through Christ (Hebrews 12:28). I strongly believe these verse 6-9 and 21-22 speak of this marvelous Plan.

v12-19 – Explains why blessings from God did not occur immediately following the start of the Temple construction because they were guilty of many things previously. Then their punishment apparently ran its course and God began to bless their obedience.

v23 – A signet ring was what kings used to designate royal authority and personal ownership. God had chosen Zerubbabel to designate royal authority and personal ownership. Many scholars believe this is a Messianic reference and it does not pertain literally to Zerubbabel. The context from v20-23 makes a good case for this interpretation.