The temple on Mt. Zion symbolized God’s dwelling place on earth. Its destruction by the Babylonians decades before decimated the nation’s system of sacrificial worship. The situation could only be rectified by a reconstruction program.
As a fellow returnee from the Babylonian captivity, Haggai was the first prophet to minister to those who relocated in Israel. His singular focus was temple reconstruction. Although some former exiles had begun rebuilding in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, enthusiasm for the project had waned. The people were more concerned with building homes than the temple. Haggai reminded them of their spiritual priorities, knowing the Lord’s favor would return if they obediently responded.
In 520 B.C., Haggai called the people to renew their faith, courage, and holiness. His brief, fiery messages stirred the nation. He was unique among post-exilic prophets, for his urgent warning was actually obeyed. Haggai worked with Zechariah to inspire their fellow Jews to complete the work started sixteen years earlier. Building began within a month and the Temple was completed in just four years.
Haggai ends his prophecies by predicting the glorious presence of the Messianic Kingdom, God’s judgment upon heathen empires, and the blessing that await all who turn to God. The glory of the Messianic era would far surpass that of any earthly temple.
1. What is said concerning the prophet Haggai in Ezra 5:1-2 and 6:14-16?
2. Briefly summarize each of the prophet’s sermons:
The Completion of the temple (1:1-7)
The Glory of the temple (2:1-9)
The Current Blessing That Follow Obedience (2:10-19)
The Future Blessings That Follow Obedience (2:20-23)
3. What is the reason behind the short text between Haggai’s first and second sermon (1:12-15)?
4. Elaborate on the importance of the completion of the temple in Jerusalem. What impact did its presence or absence have upon Jewish life?
5. Who did Haggai blame for the neglect of spiritual duties (2:11-14)?
6. What does Haggai teach concerning spiritual priorities? List things in your own life that need to “move higher on the list” of essential things.
7. What blessings were promised if the people obeyed (2:10-19)? How is faithfulness to God directly related to receiving His material and spiritual blessings?
8. What does the book teach regarding procrastination?
9. When Jesus died, what happened in this temple that graphically depicted animal sacrifices were no longer necessary (Luke 23:45)?