The Book Of Haggai: Introduction
As I was preparing to teach thru the book of Zechariah, I thought there was no better introduction than to do a commentary on the prophecies made by Haggai. Since Haggai and Zechariah were partners in ministry around the time of 520 B.C... Both books contain similar concepts including the temple, as well as the offices of king and priest which all point toward the great end of all biblical prophecy, which is the testimony concerning Jesus Christ (Rev 19:19). Now to introduce you to the book of Haggai I want to start by giving you a brief overview of the history of the Jewish people from the time of their slavery to Egypt, clear thru to the time these prophecies are made by Haggai in 520 B.C. Please be advised the dates given to you are close estimates, they should give you a general understanding of the circumstances Haggai is under during the time of his prophetic ministry.
Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you;2 And I will make you a great nation… The Jewish people descended from Abraham, thru Isaac and then to Jacob who was given the name Israel. Jacob was the father of the 12 tribes which later made up the nation of Israel (Gen 35:10). The Hebrews began their history about 4000 years ago with 400 years of slavery to the Egyptians (Gen 15:13). After this time God raised up Moses to be their deliverer who led them out of Egypt, thru the wilderness for 40 years and into the Promised Land. The book of Joshua explores the conquest of the Promised Land by Israel. Judges shows the nation of Israel immediately failing to keep the law of God and subsequently being judged, usually in the form of being given over to gentile rule.
The historical books of the Bible chronicle a time of blessing for the nation of Israel under the righteous reign of King David and his son Solomon around 1000 B.C... After the death of Solomon, the nation began its slide into apostasy and the Lord sent various prophets calling the nation to repentance and warning of coming judgement. The first major judgement was in 700 B.C. with the Assyrians conquering the northern 10 tribes of Israel and leading them into captivity. Then finally in 586 B.C. the culminating judgement that the prophets had been warning about happened. The capital city Jerusalem was conquered, the temple was destroyed, and the final two tribes (Judah and Benjamin) were taken captive to Babylon for 70 years.
The prophets are split into 3 groups. Those who prophesied before the Babylonian exile, those who prophesied during the exile, and finally those who prophesied after the exile. Haggai and Zechariah were post exilic prophets. They were part of the remnant of the nation of Israel that returned from the Babylonian captivity.
Ezra 5:1 When the prophets, Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them
Ezra 5:2 then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them supporting them.
Now that you have a background of where we are historically. These verses in Ezra summarize the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah. They encouraged the people to rebuild the temple as was predicted by Daniel the prophet decades beforehand (Dan 9:26). Their ministry took place around 520 B.C. during the rule of Persia under Darius Hystaspes. The books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther chronicle this timeframe well and would be of value to read along with this study. Next, we will take a few moments to familiarize ourselves with the main characters of the book of Haggai.
Haggai 1:1 In the second year of Darius the king, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying,
First, we will review the main character Haggai. Little is known about this prophet; he may have been born on a feast day as his name is related to festivals. His sole mission was to encourage the rebuilding of the temple. He had a brief ministry over a 4-month period (Aug 29th 520 B.C. – Dec 18th 520 B.C.). Haggai received a total of 5 messages from the Lord and in his last month of prophesying Zechariah the prophet began his ministry. So, in a sense we could say that Haggai planted, and Zechariah watered but it was God who gave the increase. Next we will look at who Zerubbabel the governor of Judah was. His name seems to indicate he was born in Babylon during the captivity. It is clear he was the civil leader at the time who was in charge of rebuilding the temple (Ezra 4:3). He is not given the title of king but rather governor since Israel is in subjection to Persia at this time, remember these are the times of the gentiles that continue until our Lord’s return.
2 Samuel 7:12-13 “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
Most importantly he was born into the Davidic line and foreshadows the coming Messiah. Zerubbabel appears in both lineages of Jesus in the New Testament (Matt 1:12; Luke 3:27). The Lord promised King David that he would never lack a man to sit on his throne (Jeremiah 33:17). From ancient times God began to separate his people and give clear revelation as to which family the Messiah would come from. From Abraham to Isaac to the nation of Israel thru the 12 tribes of Jacob. From Israel to the tribe of Judah for the Messiah is the lion of the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:9, Rev 5:5). Finally, from the line of Judah to the family of King David, which is why when Jesus was born the angels announced he would be called the Son of the Most High as to his divine nature; and as to his human nature he would be given the throne of his father David (Luke 1:32). He is both the root and creator of the line of David as God; as well as the branch and descendent as the Son of Man (Rev 22:16).
Isaiah the prophet had predicted a coming king to sit on the throne of David who would be both human and God (Isaiah 9:6-7). I hope you are beginning to understand why all the prophets agree that the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Rev 19:10). He is the entire reason for Zerubbabel rebuilding the temple and the main point of the ministry of Haggai. If you want to have a deeper understanding of the Old Testament, simply ask yourself how every sentence relates to Jesus Christ.
Next, we will look at Joshua the high priest. His name in Hebrew is Yehoshua which transliterated into Greek is the name for Jesus. Both his and our Lord’s name mean “Yahweh saves” (or “Yahweh is salvation”). He descends from Aaron as all legitimate priests were part of the Aaronic priesthood under Levitical law. As high priest he was the religious leader for Israel during this time. Little is said about Joshua in the book of Haggai; what is most important to understand is that once this temple is rebuilt, Joshua will take part in several symbolic actions that foreshadow the coming Messiah (Zech 3:8;6:11). Zechariah tells us that Joshua the high priest is going to be a symbol of the coming Servant and Branch which are Messianic titles. He is going to go into this rebuilt temple as a priest and receive a royal crown (Zech 3:8). The coming Messiah is not only a king, but also a high priest (Zech 6:11). Under Levitical law the offices of king and priest had to be separated no one man could hold both offices. But the Messiah is not coming to be a Levitical priest he is to be a priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Long before the Levitical priesthood, long before Moses or the nation of Israel God had a theocracy in Jerusalem. Melchizedek was a king, as well as a priest who foreshadows the coming Christ (Gen 14:18; Ps 110:4). Since his lineage is not recorded, he represents the eternal nature of Jesus who is a priest forever, who does not need to continuously offer up sacrifices year after year but offered one perfect sacrifice of himself on the cross.
As Christians we are being conformed into the image of Jesus Christ; because he is our great high priest, scripture records we also will be priests of God and reigning as vassal kings under him during the millennium (Rom 8:29; Rev 20:6; Rev 21:24). In the eternal state the kings of the earth will bring their glory into the new heavenly Jerusalem. Scripture has been beautifully woven together like a tapestry that points to the person, work, ministry, and kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. From Genesis to Revelation God is showing us that he is building a Kingdom. Every prophet, priest, and king in the Bible must be studied in the light of Christ. What a glorious honor that we get to be conformed to the image of Jesus, to have God as our Father and Jesus as our brother. To rule as kings and priests for all of eternity with our great God and Savior Jesus Christ! To review we have Haggai the prophet whose main ministry is to encourage the rebuilding of the temple. Zerubbabel the political leader who is in the Davidic line and represents the kingly office of Christ. Then finally Joshua the high priest who will one day go into this rebuilt temple and act as a symbol of the coming King-Priest our Lord Jesus Christ. We will now conclude with a brief outline of the book of Haggai.
Haggai 1:4 “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?”
Chapter 1:1-11 begins with a rebuke from the Lord regarding the indifference of the people towards rebuilding the temple. They had taken care of their own houses well enough while the house of the Lord was in ruins. The nation was experiencing economic hardship and the Lord says this is due to them being slack regarding the work on the temple. Then in a 2nd message 23 days later, the Lord tells the people that he is still with them, to encourage them (Hagg 1:12-15). Haggai then commands the people to rebuild the temple and they repent and do just that under the influence of God’s Spirit.
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.
The next message in chapter 2:1-9 begins with the builders being sent an encouraging message reminding them that they are the covenant people of God. That just as God had protected them during their exodus from Egypt, he will also protect them now. Furthermore, some of them seem to think this temple is insignificant compared to Solomon’s temple, which had been destroyed by the Babylonians. The Lord tells them that this temple will be even more glorious than Solomon’s. That a time is coming when God will shake the heavens and the earth, overthrowing the gentile kingdoms and filling this temple with the wealth and glory of all the surrounding nations.
Haggai 2:19 ‘Is the seed still in the barn? Even including the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree, it has not borne fruit. Yet from this day on I will bless you.’”
Then in chapter 2:10-19 Haggai receives another message focused on reminding Israel they were experiencing difficult times economically due to their national disobedience. That this was a form of God’s judgement for their indifference towards rebuilding the temple. But now that they have begun the work, he promises a time of blessing. Haggai is a very practical book, containing a wealth of application for our lives.
Haggai 2:22 ‘I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariots and their riders, and the horses and their riders will go down, everyone by the sword of another.’
The final message in chapter 2:20-23 concludes with a description of a time of destruction for the kingdoms of the earth, when all gentile authority is finally ended. This will be after the tribulation just prior to the 2nd coming of Christ of whom Zerubbabel clearly foreshadows. Almost all the prophets in scripture speak of this day titling it, “the day of the Lord”. A time when the Lord will end the satanic rebellion of the human race, and once again rule from Jerusalem as king over all the earth (Zech 14:9).
Luke 12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.
The main purpose of rebuilding the temple is to foreshadow the coming King-Priest who rules from Jerusalem in his temple. To keep us looking forward to a time when Jesus ends the Satanic rebellion of all gentile nations (Dan 7:13-14), and personally reigns from the Davidic throne in Jerusalem. We should be greatly encouraged as we wait for the day when the Son of Man will go up to the Ancient of Days and receive a kingdom. Jesus Christ will then give this kingdom to his people those he has purchased with his own blood. Rejoice saints it is the Fathers good pleasure to give us this Kingdom!