Haggai (Hag)

Book 37 of the OT, having 2 chapters. Haggai wrote this minor prophetic book, about 520 BC, to the people living in Jerusalem and those who had returned from the exile in Babylon calling them to complete the rebuilding of the temple.  Zechariah was also a prophet at this time. Time to read: 10 mins.

Key people: Haggai, Zerubbabel (the governor of Judah).

Outline.  Haggai, along with Zechariah, challenged the returned exiles to complete the rebuilding of the temple destroyed in 586 BC.  Although planned and instructed to start 18 years before this, through opposition, apathy and loss of vision, little had actually happened (Ezra 4:4,5).  He urges the people to give priority to God’s work and assures them they will begin to prosper, pointing out the reason divine blessing had departed was because they were so concerned about building their own comfortable homes while neglecting their corporate spiritual home. The people listened and responded positively and quickly (Hag 1:12-15).  God encouraged the people promising to bless them “from this day on” (Hag 2:18,19). The temple (symbol of God’s presence with them) was rebuilt between 520-516 BC. Although the rebuilt temple was inferior to Solomon’s, the glory would be greater – 500 years later Jesus would walk in the temple courts (Hag 2:1-9).

Main lesson.  The people were are not experiencing God’s blessing and provision in their lives because they had got their priorities wrong, catering to personal comforts rather than the needs of God’s Kingdom. We too should have a right emphasis – seeking first God’s Kingdom, doing what He has commanded, and the promise is the necessary things of life will be given to us (Deut 5:33; Mt 6:33). Our spiritual state is more important than our material state. The visible, temporal world screams out for attention, demanding we meet the requirements of the flesh while the eternal is neglected. Remember His claim on our lives as Saviour and Lord. Do we see the value of God’s kingdom, labouring to see it extended? Do we endeavour to build that which will foster His ‘felt’ presence with us or do we neglect our spiritual priorities, content to let the things of this life dictate our actions and lifestyle, relegating God to a back seat?

Key verses and thoughts: * God had challenged them, “Give careful thought to your ways...My house is in ruins, you live in flash homes yet you are not experiencing the abundance or blessing you could if only you were not so selfish" (Hag 1:4-10). The principle of cause and effect (sowing and reaping) is a major theme in the Bible. We too need to consider our lifestyle, attitudes and actions to see if we are blocking God from moving in our situation, and address any areas the Holy Spirit brings to our attention. It is wise to be in accountability with other mature Christians too, who will challenge us about our walk.

* They began to worship (evidenced in obeying and fearing God) then started to rebuild (Hag 1:12,14).  Notice the order, worship to God then work for God.  Both need to take place but work should flow as a result of worshipping God.  Do not try and serve God without having His blessing on your activity which comes by giving Him His rightful place.  So much Christian work is done ‘in our flesh’, without His anointing, because we have not ministered to Him first.  His glory He will not share with any other person or thing (Isa 48:11). Did I spend quality time with Jesus today before the demands of life took over?

* Holiness is not contagious but ungodliness is (Hag 2:12,13). Sin, like yeast, quickly spreads and affects an ever increasing domain, with its influence steadily advancing and seeping into all areas of society – nothing needs to be done for it to advance and take a strangle hold. However, holiness is only gained by repentance and walking uprightly before God and man; it requires self-discipline, determined motivation, persistent effort and a genuine faith in God. God declared their unrighteous lifestyle had contaminated their service to Him.

See also: bless/blessed, challenge, great commandment, holiness, priority, prophets, sow and reap.