Haggai comes on the scene after the rebuilding of the temple had already started when the exiles had returned from the Babylonian Captivity. About 50,000 people came back to Jerusalem under the leadership of Zerubbabel. They put rebuilding the temple at the top of their priority list and worked hard on the project at the beginning. Then they faced multiple forms of opposition both from external and internal sources. The people were continuing to offer sacrifices on the foundation of the temple, but the progress on the project had stopped for a period of about 16 years. The people were now more concerned with their own comfort and their own properties and their own priorities. They had become distracted. They needed the challenge from God’s prophet to stir their hearts to “Seek first the Kingdom of God.”
Four Messages Challenging the People of God to Wholeheartedly Commit Themselves to the Work of God
Haggai 1:14 “and they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God”
IA. (1:1-11) MESSAGE 1 – CHECK OUT YOUR PRIORITIES —
THE WORK OF THE LORD AND HIS GLORY MUST BE OUR #1 PRIORITY
1. (:1-2) SETTING: COMPLACENCY AND EXCUSES REGARDING THE WORK OF THE LORD
2. (:3-6) CONSIDER YOUR WAYS = NOTHING TO SHOW FOR ALL YOUR HARD WORK – WHY??
3. (:7-11) CONSIDER YOUR WAYS = THE PROVIDENTIAL HAND OF THE LORD IS AGAINST YOU — EXPLANATION
IB. (1:12-15) RESPONSE TO MESSAGE 1 – COMMIT TO THE WORK OF THE LORD —
THE LORD IS WITH THOSE WHO OBEDIENTLY COMMIT TO PERFORM HIS WORK FOR HIS GLORY
1. (:12) THE PROPER RESPONSE TO THE AUTHORITATIVE, COMMANDING WORD OF GOD
2. (:13) THE PERSONAL REASSURANCE OF THE LORD’S PRESENCE = HIS PROTECTION, AND PROVIDENTIAL PROVISION
3. (:14-15) THE PEOPLE’S RESOLVE TO PERFORM THE LOFTY WORK OF THE LORD
II. (2:1-9) MESSAGE 2 – COUNT ON GOD’S FAITHFULNESS TO HIS PROMISES AS YOU BOLDLY LABOR FOR HIM –
DON’T GET DISCOURAGED —
EVALUATE PRESENT REALITIES NOT FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF PAST PERFORMANCE BUT FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF FUTURE PROMISES
OF MILLENNIAL GLORY AND BLESSING
(:1-2) CONTEXT: MESSAGE #2 FROM GOD TO HIS LOYAL WORKERS
A. (:3-5) PAST FAILURES MUST NOT DISTRACT US FROM BOLDLY FULFILLING OUR PRESENT MINISTRY IN RELIANCE UPON THE ALLSUFFICIENT RESOURCE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD
B. (:6-9) FUTURE PROMISES OF MILLENNIAL BLESSING AND GLORY GIVE HOPE TO THE LORD’S LABORERS —
3 ASPECTS OF ESTABLISHING THE MILLENIAL REIGN OF THE MESSIAH
III. (2:10-19) MESSAGE 3 – CONSECRATE YOURSELF AND GOD WILL BLESS YOUR SERVICE —
HOLINESS IS A PREREQUISITE TO ACCEPTABLE SERVICE AND THE BLESSING OF GOD
A. (:11-14) THE OBJECT LESSON POINTS TO THE PREREQUISITE OF HOLINESS BEFORE ANY SERVICE CAN BE ACCEPTABLE TO GOD
B. (:15-19) THE HISTORICAL EXAMPLE REINFORCES THE OBJECT LESSON – HOLINESS IS A PREREQUISITE TO ACCEPTABLE SERVICE AND
THE BLESSING OF GOD
IV. (2:20-23) MESSAGE #4 – CROWN THE SERVANT OF THE LORD THE VICTORIOUS MESSIAH —
THE SOVEREIGN GOD WILL EXALT HIS CHOSEN KING TO RULE OVER ALL NATIONS AND KINGDOMS
(:20-21a) SETTING FOR MESSAGE #4
A. (:21b-22) THE DEFEAT OF ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE NATIONS –
FOUR PROMISES OF DESTRUCTION ACCOMPLISHED BY GOD HIMSELF
B. (:23) THE ENTHRONEMENT OF THE MESSIAH TO RULE OVER THE KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARTH
WHY STUDY THIS BOOK?
• To help us reexamine our priorities in life.
• To help us stir up the flames of our passion for serving Christ so we don’t get discouraged when things are not working out on as grand a scale as we might have hoped.
• To expose the type of excuses that distract us from giving our full attention to God’s kingdom priorities.
• To reassure us of the Lord’s Presence – His Protection and Providential Provision.
• To highlight holiness as a prerequisite of serving the Lord and receiving His blessing.
• To anticipate the future exaltation of the Messiah to rule over the Kingdom of God on earth.
Thomas Constable: Haggai’s purpose was simple and clear. It was to motivate the Jews to build the temple. To do this he also fulfilled a secondary purpose: he confronted the people with their misplaced priorities. They were building their own houses but had neglected God’s house. It was important to finish building the temple because only then could the people fully resume Levitical worship as the Lord had specified. They had gone into captivity for covenant unfaithfulness. Thus they needed to return to full obedience to the Mosaic Covenant. Furthermore, in the ancient Near East the glory of a nation’s temple(s) reflected the glory of the people’s god(s). So to finish the temple meant to glorify Yahweh.
Merrill: In a day of profound discouragement and misplaced priorities following the return of the Jews from Babylonian exile, the prophet Haggai sounded a clarion call of rebuke, exhortation, and encouragement to his contemporaries. They had begun to rebuild their own homes and businesses and to establish their statehood as a Jewish community but had been derelict in tending to the construction of the temple and making the Lord the central focus of all their hopes and dreams. The message of Haggai, so effective in shaking the Jews of 520 B.C. from their lethargy, has an abiding relevance for all who fail to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. . .
The repopulation of the land, at least outside Jerusalem, gave rise to the rebuilding of houses and storage buildings and to the clearing and cultivation of the farmlands. In fact, it was the rapidity and conviction with which this was done that caused Haggai to lament that, by comparison, the house of the Lord was neglected. His burden then was that this inequity be redressed and that the people do all they could in spite of their still rather limited resources to erect a house of the Lord that could provide a suitable expression of His presence among them. Until this was done the restoration would remain incomplete and the gracious promises of the Lord unfulfilled.
J. Sidlow Baxter: “From this day I will bless you”
First Message – To Arouse (1:1-15)
Date: Sixth month, first day.
Crux: “Build the House” (1:8)
Second Message – To Support (2:1-9)
Date: Seventh month, 21st day.
Crux: “I am with you” (2:4)
Third Message – To Confirm (2:10-19)
Date: Ninth month, twenty-fourth day.
Crux: “From this day will I bless you.”
Fourth Message – To Assure (2:20 – 3)
Date: Ninth month, twenty-fourth day.
Crux: “In that day I will make thee . . .”
Chuck Swindoll: The Jews who emigrated from Babylon to their original homeland of Judah faced intense opposition, both external and internal. Ezra 4:1–5 records the external resistance to the project of rebuilding the temple. The enemies of Judah first attempted to infiltrate the ranks of the builders, and when that didn’t work, they resorted to scare tactics. Haggai, on the other hand, focused on the internal opposition they faced, namely from their own sin. The Jews had thoughtlessly placed their own interests before the Lord’s interests, looking after their own safety and security without giving consideration to the status of the Lord’s house.
Haggai’s encouragement to rebuild the temple in the face of the Jews’ neglect brings to mind the apostle Paul’s exhortation to Christians to build our lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10–17). Are you building a life that reflects your status as a temple of the Holy Spirit, leaving a legacy that will stand the test of time? Find encouragement for that construction project in the four passionate sermons from this Old Testament prophet.
John MacArthur: The primary theme is the rebuilding of God’s temple, which had been lying in ruins since its destruction by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. . . But to Haggai, the rebuilding of the temple was not an end in itself. The temple represented God’s dwelling place. His manifest presence with His chosen people. The destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar followed the departure of God’s dwelling glory (cf. Eze 8-11); to the prophet, the rebuilding of the temple invited the return of God’s presence to their midst. Using the historical situation as a spring-board, Haggai reveled in the supreme glory of the ultimate messianic temple yet to come (2:7), encouraging them with the promise of even greater peace (2:9), prosperity (2:19), divine rulership (2:21, 22), and national blessing (2:23) during the Millennium.