Haggai 1 (day 910) 28 June 2012
1-6: The date given in the first line has been worked out by scholars to be August 29, 520 B.C. Haggai is mentioned at Ezra 5:1 and 6:14 along with Zechariah, whose book follows this one, but little else is known about him. His book is a narrative account of the same historical events reported in Ezra rather than the more poetic style of prophetic oracles, making it somewhat easier for the modern reader. The book spans events that took place over a period of 4 months toward the end of 520 B.C. He was obviously known as a prophet and respected as such by the high priest Joshua and the governor Zerubbabel. This chapter is a more extensive account of what was reported in Ezra 5:1-3. The exiles from Babylon have returned to Jerusalem and the question has arisen over whether it is time to rebuild the temple. Haggai turns the question on its ear: is it time for you to live in your finished homes while the temple is a pile of rubble? And then he asks the crucial question: do you think there might be a connection between the lack of a place of worship and your meager success in rebuilding the infrastructure of the city?
7-11: The word Haggai gives from the LORD is that there is a connection. Therefore it is time to gather material to build a house for God.
12-15: Zerubbabel, Joshua and “the remnant of the people” are mentioned twice in these verses. The first mention probably has to do with their beginning to cut the timber. Then Haggai assures them God is with them, and the second mention has to do with their response to the news that God approves of what they are doing. God’s approval always lends strength for the task. The date given in verse 15 is what we would call September 21st.
Haggai 2 (day 911) 29 June 2012
1-9: October 17th. They have been building for nearly a month, and apparently without much progress for some of the older ones who remember the temple of Solomon have been complaining that the new temple just doesn’t measure up. God sees that the time has come to offer some encouragement and sends it through Haggai. Don’t worry about the lack of silver and gold, he says, because silver and gold belong to God and in time God will provide.
10-19: We skip forward two months, to December 18th. The people are again discouraged. The foundation is laid, and still the people struggle with bare subsistence in the land. Haggai uses an interesting comparison. In their minds a thing could be in one of three conditions; holy, common, or unclean. If the holy touched the common it did not render the common holy; but if the unclean touched the common it rendered the common unclean. Therefore, the people being unclean, all they have to offer becomes unclean. Haggai seems to think this explains why they are still suffering shortages of grain and fruit and wine. But God is about to turn that order of things on its ear, he says. From that day on they will be blessed, he promises.
20-23: We never learn whether that prophecy is fulfilled. Haggai’s narrative ends with a word of special encouragement to Zerubbabel that he is indeed the one God has chosen to lead them.