Intro to Haggai
4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?
In 2016, I started working on a new project; a board game. I spent countless hours working on the design (not looks, but how you play the game), theme (style of play), and the general vision for the art (looks of the game). I had even received price lists from various vendors to manufacture, ship, and distribute the game. However, due to several factors (art not in hand, starting a new job, not enough groundwork to grow the user base for pre-orders) the project never completed. It started out with a flash and sort of fizzled out as my priorities began to shift. Similarly, in the book of Haggai, we read of the resulting work of the first group of exiles who had returned to Israel to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. They had returned home and had begun their project to rebuild the temple sometime in 538-537 BC, but had given up on the reconstruction project after having laid the foundation.
However, God had not left them nor did He approve of their neglect. On August 29, 520 BC, God gives Haggai a message, rebuking them for living in “paneled houses” while the house of God “[laid] in ruins” (1:4). As opposed to standing firm against external oppositions and discouragement in the “small-ness” of their new temple (Ezra 1-3; Hag 2:3), the people had given up and this was displeasing to God. Through Haggai, God calls the people to repentance and covenant renewal and to do so with strength (2:4-5). Unlike many of the other prophetic books, we do see a response from the people in this book. They do begin their work on the temple and eventually will complete it several years later (Based on Ezra 6:15-18, it is estimated to be March 12, 515 BC).
But there is more to this book than just a retelling of the rebuilding of the Temple. Haggai also includes a promise for the people of blessing and peace (2:6-9, 18-19) and a reversal of the curse on Jehoiachin. This reversal is essentially a restoration of the Davidic throne on earth through the descendants of Zerubbabel, which will ultimately point us to Christ. In this short book, we also notice that Haggai calls on the divine name of the Lord 34 times in only 38 verses, affirming both God’s presence with the people and His activity in their lives. And just as it was then, so it is now. God did not make a promise with the same result as our many uncompleted projects. He is with us and accompanies us in our works. And He calls on each of us to reexamine our priorities and to live faithfully for Him empowered by the gifting of the Holy Spirit. May we forever be committed to Him.
Grace and Peace,
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