Help from Haggai - Introduction

J. B. Hewitt, Chesterfield

Part 1 of 4 of the series Help from Haggai

Haggai and Zachariah were the post-exilic "prophets of work" com­missioned by God to encourage His returned exiles to complete the restora­tion of the temple. The task had lapsed for almost sixteen years. Under their stimulus it was finished in four years, Ezra 6. 14, 15. It is interesting to record that Haggai's name stands with Zechariah's at the head of certain Psalms in the Septuagint; Psa. 137; 146; 147; 148. Haggai was probably one of the Jewish exiles who returned under Zerubbabel, the civil head of the people, and Joshua the high priest in 536 b.c. when Cyrus granted them their liberty, and furnished them with the necessities for restoring the temple at Jerusalem, 2 Chron. 36. 23; Ezra 1. 1-4; 2. 1-70.

His prophetic office extended over a period of about four months only. He gave five distinct messages, delivered on separate occasions between Septem­ber and December 520 b.c.

Style and Purpose. Haggai is plain, curt, business-like. He was fond of questions, and his interrogations com­pel attention, 1. 4, 9; 2. 3, 12, 13, 19. His ministry was intensely practical and of the highest importance. His purpose was to exhort and encourage the defeated, dispirited and easy-going Jews to renewed activity in building the temple. He was profoundly in earnest, and became the most success­ful in his purpose of all his class.

Its Lessons. His brief messages may be only the epitome of the original discourses. (1) God's things claim to be paramount, and nothing must be allowed to supersede that claim, Matt. 6. 33. (2) Do not become self-centred and have wrong priorities — putting material acquisition before spiritual work. (3) We can only be sure of the present for doing the will of God in ready obedience, Rom. 6. 17b; Phil. 2. 12a. (4) Zeal and faithfulness in the Lord's work are maintained by a true vision of the coming glory, Hag. 2. 6-9.

Its message is summarized for us in 1 Corinthians 15. 58. Also "I am with you"; "my spirit remaineth among you". Hag. 2. 4, 5; "I will take plea­sure in it"; "I will be glorified", 1.8.First Message: of Denunciation for the Conscience, 1. 2-11. A Call to Diligence. Censure for apathy, v. 2, and selfish activity, v. 4. Counsel from God, vv. 5,7. Give serious thought to your ways and their consequences. Calamity has marked your personal life, busi­ness life and social life, v. 6. The command of God, v. 8. Climb, contri­bute and construct the house. Cheered by the promise and the pleasure of God. The consequences of neglect, vv. 9-11. The hand of God in disci­pline meant disaster.

Second Message: of Inspiration for the Will, 1. 12-15. A Call to obedience. The people showed a disposition to obey the testimony of the prophet, v. 12. To obey and fear the Lord brings divine fellowship and favour, v. 13.

Third Message: of Exhortation for the Spirit, 2. 1-9. A Call to Endurance. Disparagement, vv. 1-3. The colonists began to despair when they made comparisons, v. 3. Their restoration seemed so insignificant alongside Solo­mon's original. Encouragement, v. 4,5. Despondency always deplores the lost glory of the past. Our duty is to be courageous and industrious.

Delight in the presence and power of God, v. 4, 5. Verse 6 is alluded to in Hebrews 12. 26-28 as an event still lying in the future, the second advent of Christ. The discovery of unlimited resources and the display of divine splendour, vv. 8, 9.

Fourth Message: of Instruction for the Mind, 2. 10-19. A Call to Patience. Looking into the heart — impurity, vv. 11-13. Looking around at pollu­tion — contaminated, v. 14. Looking backward — their indifference, vv. 15-17. Looking forward with interest, vv. 18, 19.

Fifth Message: of Restoration for the Heart, 2. 20-23. A Word of Assurance. Divine plan revealed, v. 21. Divine purpose outlined, v. 22. Divine plea­sure reflected, v. 23.

As only four of these messages are prefaced by the formula "came the word of the Lord by Haggai", some expositors exclude 1. 13 as a direct message from God.

To be continued

There are 10 articles in
ISSUE (1985, Volume 36 Issue 4)

The Disciple Whom Jesus Loved

God’s Husbandry

Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities

Growth and Development

Help from Haggai - Introduction

How would we react to this Today?

Jottings from John’s First Epistle (Paper 2)

Philippians 2. 6

The Sayings from the Cross, 4

A Spiritual Journey Through Life

There are 3 articles in this series

Help from Haggai - Introduction

Help from Haggai, Verses 1. 12-15; 2. 1-9

Help from Haggai, Verses 2. 10-23

There are 59 articles by this author

Why I Believe the Bible

Glimpses of Christ

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Introduction

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 4 - 5

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 6-7

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 8 - 9

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 10

Outline Studies in the Pentateuch - Introduction

Genesis - Part 1

Genesis - Part 2

Suggested Analysis of Genesis

Exodus

Exodus: Its Message for Today

Leviticus

Numbers

Deuteronomy

Glimpses of Christ

Outline Studies in the Penteteuch

The Authority of Scripture in This Modern Age

Truth for the Times - Introduction

Controlled by Divine Truth, 2 Peter 3

The Peril of Apostasy, Jude 4-19

The Antidote to Apostasy, Jude 1-3; 17-23

Christ in the Prison Epistles - Introduction

Ephesians - Christ our Leader and our Lord

Philippians - Christ our Life

Colossians - Christ our Head

Philemon - Christ our Example

Help from Haggai - Introduction

Help from Haggai, Verses 2. 10-23

The Eight Men of James Chapter One

Meditation-a Lost Art

The Cross in Galatians

The Industrious Servant of Jehovah

Abraham - Friend of God

Living by Faith, Habakkuk

Help from Haggai, Verses 1. 1-11

Help from Haggai, Verses 1. 12-15; 2. 1-9

The Son of Consolation

The Lion-Hearted Amount the Lions - Daniel 6

Obadiah

Jonah

Micah

Nahum

Habakkuk

Zephaniah

1 Thessalonians - Some Suggestions for Study

Outline Studies in the Minor Prophets - Introduction

Hosea

Joel

Amos

Haggai

Zechariah

Malachi

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 1

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 2-3

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 11

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 12

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 13