“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Every word in the Bible is “profitable!” Every word, from “In the beginning God...” (Genesis 1:1) to “Even so, come Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20, KJV), is written so that a Christ-follower might be “equipped” for kingdom activity.
Is that true of the mostly-ignored twelve, the so-called minor prophets? Where is today’s profit in ancient Obadiah or Nahum or Habakkuk? How about Haggai? Do you suppose that we will unearth a precious nugget as we faithfully mine the thirty-eight verses of the little book of Haggai? Let’s see!
Haggai can be dated to 520 B.C., “the second year of King Darius” (Haggai 1:1). “The construction of God’s house in Jerusalem had stopped and remained at a standstill until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia” (Ezra 4:24), so God commissioned the prophet to encourage the people to resume the important work!
Eighteen years earlier, Cyrus, king of Persia, had decreed that the Jewish exiles, after seventy years of captivity, could return to Jerusalem. According to the census found in Ezra’s second chapter, nearly fifty-thousand Hebrews, led by Zerubbabel, king David’s great-great-great... grandson (Ezra 2:2, Matthew 1:12), returned to the Land of Promise.
Oh, what a glorious day! The emancipated slaves “set up the altar on its foundation and offered burnt offerings for the morning and evening on it to the Lord even though they feared the surrounding peoples. They celebrated the Festival of Shelters as prescribed, and offered burnt offerings each day” (Ezra 3:3–4).
In “the second year after they arrived” (Ezra 3:8) in Judah, they began the work of rebuilding the temple. “When the builders had laid the foundation of the Lord’s temple, the priests, dressed in their robes and holding trumpets ... took their positions to praise the Lord, as King David of Israel had instructed. They sang with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord: ‘For he is good; his faithful love to Israel endures forever.’ Then all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s house had been laid” (Ezra 3:10–11).
Sadly, “many of the older priests, Levites, and family heads, who had seen the first temple, wept loudly when they saw the foundation of this temple” (Ezra 3:12). Zerubbabel’s temple was much smaller and far humbler than Solomon’s.
Due to internal apathy and external opposition, work on the temple ceased. For fifteen or sixteen years, the neglected foundation lay as a monument to the weakened nation’s failures. But, “in the second year of King Darius” (Haggai 1:1) “they began work on the house of the Lord of Armies, their God” (Haggai 1:14).
As you read Haggai’s two short chapters, notice the “Lord of hosts” (KJV, NASB, ESV), “Lord Almighty” (NIV), “Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (NLT) or “Lord of Armies” (CSB). If you’re reading with a red pencil in your hands, underline the thirteen times this title appears in Haggai. “Jehovah Sabaoth” appears two-hundred, forty-five times in the Old Testament where it often speaks of God’s unequalled authority and power, faithfully present with His people. The prophet Haggai was a mostly obscure man who served the undefeatable, Commander of Heaven’s Armies!
We will certainly profit by studying this portion of history ... His-story.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.