Sunday, August 3, 2014

The wonderful book of Haggai

Haggai 1:5 "Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways!"

Introduction to Haggai and his message:
What if you only had four months to turn the spiritual direction of an entire nation back to God? What would you do? What would you say? Toward the end of the Old Testament we witness a handful of prophets who were sent by God to His people who had returned back to Jerusalem from a seventy year exile in Babylon. 

As people began filtering back into the promised land, the preaching of God's Word became centralized under Ezra and the walls would become rebuilt under Nehemiah. As the people began getting their lives back, one thing was visibly neglected - the house of God. To solve this issue, God commissioned the prophet Haggai to urge two leaders: Joshua the High Priest and Zerubbabel the Governor of Jerusalem to work together and lead the people to build and brand new temple. 

The task was daunting, however God promised Haggai and the people that He would be with them every step of the way. John Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck write in the Bible Knowledge Commentary, page 1538, regarding Haggai's message: "God raised up Haggai the prophet to encourage the Jews in the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 5:1-2; Haggai 1:1), His task was to arouse the leaders and the people from their spiritual lethargy and to encourage them to continue working on the temple. The initial success of Haggai in his mission (cf 1;12-15) was supplemented by the continued efforts of Zechariah until the temple reconstruction was finished in 515 b.c." 

The key theme of Haggai
As one reads the short two chapter book (the second shortest Old Testament book, next to Obadiah), one word or idea is repeated five times: "consider". The following verses spell out this repeated theme:

Haggai 1:5 "Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways!"

Haggai 1:7 "Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways!"

Haggai 2:15 "But now, do consider from this day onward: before one stone was placed on another in the temple of the Lord"

Haggai 2:18 ‘Do consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month; from the day when the temple of the Lord was founded, consider:

The first two mentions have to do with the people and their priorities, their hearts and their obedience. The remaining mentions urge the people to consider how God was faithful and being with the people in the building of Solomon's temple nearly 500 years prior, and how God was going to see them through in the building of the new temple. 

Where we possibly see Christ in Haggai
One of the possible prophetic references to Jesus Christ is found in Haggai 2:7 "I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts." Interestingly enough some commentators are divided over whether or not Haggai 2:7 is ultimately referring to Christ or some other event. 

John Walvoord on page 315 of his 'Prophecy Knowledge Handbook' writes a fine example of those commentators favoring the passage predicting Christ's second advent: "In this prophecy God was predicting the far future where, before the second coming of Christ, the earth will be judged and Christ will return to take possession of the redeemed earth for the millennial kingdom. In this connection He will not only bless the temple that Israel was then building but also future temples, one to be built in the period preceeding the second coming of Christ, and the great temple described in Ezekiel 40-43 to be built after the second coming. God will glorify the millennial temple and will also glorify Himself in the temple that she (Jerusalem) was then building." 

Some closing thoughts
The aim of today's post was simply to do an overview of the little book of Haggai. Certainly all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable - with Haggai being no exception to that truth of 2 Timothy 3:16. The urgency to consider our ways, to consider God's faithfulness and to even consider Christ's second coming merits three reasons for encouraging further study of this wonder little book of the Bible.

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