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Bible

Understanding

Made Easy

Haggai

Introduction

  • Haggai is another short, but powerful book of the Bible.

  • It consists solely of two chapters.

  • It is set in a different time period than most books of the Old Testament.

  • It actually occurs during the time of Darius I, which was the king of the Medo-Persian Empire that had already conquered Babylon and freed the Jews from Babylonian captivity.

  • The Word of God says that this prophecy happened during the second year of his reign (Haggai 1:1).

  • Of course, the Jews were a part of this Medo-Persian empire, but freed to return to their homeland of Judah.

Fifteen Years Expired Since The Beginning Of The Rebuild Of The Jewish Temple

  • Approximately, fifteen years had expired since the stoppage of work on the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (Arnold & Beyer, 1999).

  • The Jews of Judah, according to the history books started rebuilding the Jewish Temple around the year 536 B.C.

  • Unfortunately, the Jews of Judah let their enemies stop them from rebuilding the Temple (Ezra 4) (Pfeiffer, Vos, & Rea, 2003).

  • In Haggai’s prophecy, we are now around the year 520 B.C.

Worshipping God Was Not The Top Priority For The Jewish People Of Judah

  • In Haggai’s time, the Jews of Judah were saying that it was not time to rebuild the Jewish Temple (Haggai 1:2).

  • God was not happy with the Jewish people for their lax attitude toward restoring the worship of Him via the Temple (Haggai 1:3).

  • Haggai 1:4 is a sad commentary regarding the selfishness of the Jews of Judah.

  • They were more concerned with their own personal prosperity than worshipping God due to the fact that in those days, the literal physical Temple was the place of worship!

  • The New Living Translation of the Bible conveys the thought best when it says, “ . . . Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins?” (Haggai 1:4).

  • As Christians, this again challenges us to re-evaluate our priorities in life.

  • Is God the number one priority in our lives or are we our own number one priority?

  • Remember, God’s Word says the following to us in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

  • This means that we are to make sure that our time, energies, wealth, faith, and obedience are first given to God.

  • Using an automotive example, is God in the backseat of the car or under the steering wheel?

  • We hope that He is under the steering wheel as we, as Christians, surrender to His Will and let Him guide us in the way that we should go (Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10)!

  • Our own desires are always second to what God wants from us.

God Withholds Blessings From The Southern Kingdom Of Judah

  • The sad part about the Jews of Judah is that since they were making God their second priority, God was holding back or minimizing their blessings (Haggai 1:5-7, 9-11).

  • This is the same as the Christian that puts God second today.

  • God has said, when it comes to our giving of our material things, “1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”

  • God wants His Christian children to give out of their prosperity and not out of what they can spare after considering everything and everyone else.

  • As a brother-in-Christ, Charles Jones, says, we must “give God off the top.”

  • That is, we must give to God first and then consider our bills and wants after that!

  • If not, then we suffer from the Biblical principle that we reap what we sow, because 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says, “6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver”

  • Thus, Christians, we must ask ourselves, “Are our blessings minimized or cut-off, because we are minimizing or cutting off our time, energies, and gifts to God?”

  • Only you and God know the answer.

God Commands The Children Of Israel To Rebuild The Temple, They Repent For Not Doing So Sooner, And Begin The Work

  • Returning to Haggai 1, we find out that God commands them to rebuild the Jewish Temple (Haggai 1:8). 

  • The wonderful part about the behavior of the Jews of Judah is that they repented of their selfishness and determined to rebuild the Jewish Temple. 

  • They, in fact, began the work on the House of the Lord again (Haggai 1:12-14). 

  • Remember, the Jewish Temple built by Solomon had been destroyed by the Babylonians long before the book of Haggai (Jeremiah 52:12-27).

God’s Mercy Upon The Jewish People of Judah

  • One verse of Haggai 1:13 tells us of the mercy of God to these Jews of Judah despite their selfishness.

  • It reads, “Then spake Haggai the LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD.” 

  • Christian, it does not take much to regain God’s favor. 

  • Remember, when we repent, confess our faults to God, and ask Him to forgive us, then He immediately returns to a peaceful relationship with us (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:8-9).

God Tells The Jewish People Of Judah To Continue Rebuilding The Temple Without Fear

  • In Haggai 2, God addressed the secular leader, religious leader, and remnant of the Jews now living in Judah after returning from Babylonian captivity (Haggai 2:1-2). 

  • Zerubbabel is Jewish and is ruler of Judah as appointed by the Medo-Persians and God, Himself. 

  • Joshua is the High Priest to the Jewish people of Judah. 

  • Of course, Zerubbabel is not a true king, but is in charge of Judah as appointed by the Medo-Persians. 

  • Of significance is the fact that God’s Word in Haggai 2 is less than two months after the work of rebuilding this second Jewish Temple began (Haggai 1:1; 2:1). 

  • God shows them that this second Jewish Temple is not as grand or lavish as the first Jewish Temple that Solomon had built hundreds of years before Haggai (Haggai 2:3). 

  • Even though, God tells Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people to continue to work on this second Temple project and that He was with them. 

  • He tells them to be strong and have no fear (Haggai 2:4-5). 

  • They had to be encouraged by God to have no fear in completing His work, because remember, approximately 15 years before, their enemies actually stopped the work. 

  • Thus, with God on our sides, even as Christians, who should we fear? 

  • No one (Psalm 27:1; Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:5). 

  • There may become a time in your and my own countries where it may be outlawed to worship God or win souls for Christ. 

  • Does this mean that we stop doing these works for the Lord? 

  • Absolutely not! 

  • What ever God sends us to do, He is with us just like these Jews of Judah in rebuilding the Jewish Temple (Hebrews 10:25; Matthew 28:18-20; Revelation 2:10).

God Matters More Than Buildings!

  • Returning to the second Temple, there had to be a reason why God pointed out the differences between the first Temple and the second Temple that was being built in Haggai’s time (Haggai 2:3). 

  • It was to show them that it was not the glory of the Temple structure that matters, but that God, Himself, was glorified through their faith and obedience to Him (Coffman, 1989). 

  • Thus, the Jews were being shown that it is not a structure that we worship, but we worship the Creator instead! 

  • God was having the Temple rebuilt to gain His own glory and not the glorification of a building (Haggai 1:8). 

  • This should be kept in mind by modern-day Christians.

  • We do become materialistic at times and decide upon where we want to worship by the appearance and size of buildings. 

  • The appearance and size of buildings will never get any one into heaven. 

  • It is no sin to worship in a nice building, but we still must make sure that God is glorified within the building by the worshippers most of all. 

  • This is only done if Christians make their lives a living sacrifice unto God (Romans 12:1). 

  • It’s not the building that counts! 

  • It’s what is going on inside the building that counts!

  • Man gives God the glory by having faith in the promises of God, praising Him, obeying Him in all that we do, enduring the trials and tribulations of life without losing faith or obedience to God, suffering for Christ, and even physically dying for the Lord if necessary (Romans 4:20; Psalm 50:23; 1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Peter 4:14; John 15:8; Philippians 1:11; John 21:19) (Nave, 1995). 

  • There’s nothing wrong with a beautiful or humble building. 

  • It is what’s inside that counts regardless!

God Allows Haggai To Speak Of The Last Days

  • God speaks of shaking the heavens, earth, sea, and dry land which are signs that one is in the last days that includes today until the end of time (Haggai 2:6-7; Hebrews 1:1-3; Luke 21:3-38) (Torrey, 1880). 

  • Thus, God was allowing Haggai a glimpse into the future for this prophet. 

  • Haggai 2:7-9 says, “7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. 8. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. 9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.” 

  • The desire of all nations is none other than Jesus Christ, Himself (Henry, 2004).

  • Haggai 2:9 cannot be referring to this second Temple as the latter house of God, because God has already said that this second Temple was inferior in glory to the first Temple. 

  • Furthermore, even though God mentioned silver and gold, which are glory in an earthly sense, there is no way that Zerubbabel’s Temple could have compared to Solomon’s Temple in riches!

  • It was already admitted in Haggai 2:3 that this second Temple was inferior to Solomon’s Temple from the beginning of its foundation! 

  • Thus, there must be a different house that God is talking about. 

  • That different house is the house of God today, which is another name for the church of Christ (1 Timothy 3:5, 15; 1 Peter 4:17; Romans 16:16). 

  • Thus, God is actually talking about the building of Christ’s church, which are the people and not the building (Matthew 16:18). 

  • The church is filled with God’s glory, which is Jesus Christ, Himself. 

  • Jesus is present within the midst of all Christians every time we meet (Matthew 18:20; Luke 2:25-35; Hebrews 1:1-3) (Coffman, 1989). 

  • The desire of all nations is Jesus Christ, because those Jews and non-Jews of all time that believe in Jesus Christ believe in Him because they desire a Savior to deliver them from the power of sin and eternal death (Haggai 2:7; Matthew 1:21; Luke 2:11; John 4:40-42; Acts 5:31; 1 Timothy 4:10; Acts 10:34-35; Mark 16:15-16; Matthew 28:18-20). 

  • Haggai 2:8 shows us that silver and gold belong to the Lord anyway and He does not need it.

  • Instead, God would fill the true Temple with the glory of Jesus Christ that far exceeds silver and gold (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown, 2004)!

God Is Not Satisfied With The Jewish People Not Giving Their Maximum Effort To God!

  • Haggai 2:10-19 is an interesting passage of Scripture. 

  • God shows the Jews of Judah that He was dissatisfied with them procrastinating when it came to re-building the Temple. 

  • They had an altar in Jerusalem that they built after coming back from Babylon, but their sacrifices were not accepted by God, because they did fully pursue satisfying God by dropping their selfish lifestyles and devoting their time instead to rebuilding the Temple (Gill, n.d.). 

  • This is the same for the Christian today. We cannot live in hypocrisy and expect God to accept our worship (1 Peter 3:12). 

  • Everything that we do is in vain, if we are not actively living a clean Christian lifestyle that God would have us to do (James 2:20; Matthew 7:21-23; John 4:24). 

  • As signs of His displeasure with their inactivity in reviving the rebuilding of the Temple and indulging in their own sinful desires over His desires, God withheld their material blessings and even gave them crop disease (i.e. blight and mildew) and hail (objects that fall and break plants) to get them to repent, but they would not during this approximate 15 year time period of not rebuilding the Temple (Haggai 2:15-18).

  • This type of judgment would be devastating to agricultural societies such as Judah of the time. 

  • Nonetheless, the mercy of God shows after His explanation of withholding blessings from the people. 

  • God shows them that He was going to materialistically bless them starting with the day that they decided to obey Him by continuing to build the second Temple structure. 

  • This is more proof of the loving and forgiving heart of God toward sinners who repent (Haggai 2:19).

God Encourages Zerubbabel Who Is Symbolic of Christ Jesus!

  • Haggai’s prophecy ends with these Words, “20 And again the word of the LORD came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying, 21 “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying: ‘I will shake heaven and earth. 22 I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow the chariots And those who ride in them; The horses and their riders shall come down, Every one by the sword of his brother. 23 ‘In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the LORD, ‘and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:21-23 New King James Version). 

  • God is showing us that He will put down all nations, which will of course happen through out all time, but have its ultimate fulfillment when Jesus Christ comes back the second time. 

  • Every eye is going to see the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ, when He comes back in judgment (Psalm 2; Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Timothy 6:14-15; Revelation 1:7). 

  • God gives Zerubbabel confidence toward leading the Jews of Judah as their leader, because the Lord had chosen him for the work. 

  • Any one chosen to do God’s work cannot be defeated.

  • God’s work will be accomplished despite opposition if God Wills it to be so! 

  • Zerubbabel is a type of Christ, which means that though He was a real person, he still was symbolic of the true Chosen One. 

  • That Chosen One is Jesus Christ. 

  • Jesus Christ is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

  • This includes being the Head of all of God’s people today, which is the church (Acts 2:36). 

  • Zerubbabel built a structure made of stone, but Jesus built a church that is made up of saved people (Matthew 16:18; Romans 8:1; Galatians 3:27; Acts 8:36-38; 41; 47). 

  • All praise and thanks is due to God!
     

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