Introduction to the book of Haggai


Haggai’s name means “festal one.” Although little is known about the prophet, his authorship of this prophecy is not a matter of dispute. Ezra records the beginning of his ministry to Judah and Jerusalem (Ezra 5:1), and the success of his preaching (Ezra 6:14). Very likely, Haggai was among those who could remember something of the glory of the former temple (Hag. 2:3); thus, he would have been at least in his mid-seventies when God commissioned him for this particular ministry.


Haggai, a contemporary of Zechariah, is the first in our canonical order of the postexilic prophets, and he explicitly dates his prophecy to the second year of Darius. In fact, his written prophecy is the collection of four messages that he dated by the day, month, and year (1:1; 2:1,10,20). Although his ministry and influence in Jerusalem may have been longer, his entire written prophecy spanned a four-month period from our September to December, 520 BC.


Rebuilding the temple—putting God first.


To inspire the people to renewed dedication and determination for the work of the kingdom; to convince them that nothing is more important than kingdom work.


The Contribution of Haggai to Redemptive Revelation

In 537 BC Zerubbabel—a descendant of David and an ancestor of Jesus—led the first wave of exiles back to Israel after the Babylonian captivity in response to the decree of Cyrus (2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4). The captivity, the lowest point in Israel’s checkered history, was over. Seventy years of retribution and purification had been accomplished, and a new day was dawning. The people returned in faith and in hope that God would keep His promise of restoration and blessing. This was a generation that lived in a crucial moment in the progression of God’s unfailing purpose of redemption. So many things had to be in place for the approaching of the incarnation, the climax of redemptive history in the fullness of time. According to prophecy (Hag. 2:9), there had to be a Jerusalem and a temple in place when Messiah came. It was the first and principal order of business for Zerubbabel and the remnant to rebuild the fallen temple.

At first there was good progress; there was the confident expectation that God’s promises were certain. But soon there was opposition, beginning with misunderstandings and escalating to rumors, accusations, and threats. The opposition became so intense that the work ceased, and then apathy and carelessness about the kingdom work set in. Loss of hope and the delay of blessing stagnated the work. Then in 520 BC God raised up Haggai and Zechariah to exhort the nation to reevaluate their priorities and to finish the temple; that was a vital contribution Haggai made to redemptive revelation. That the divine name Jehovah, which reveals God as the covenant Savior, occurs in thirty-four of the thirty-eight verses indicates that the theme of salvation is predominant.

In addition, Haggai pointed to the coming Messiah, both directly and indirectly through typology (picture prophecies). Although a disputed interpretation, Haggai’s prophecy of the coming of the “desire of all nations” likely refers to the Messiah, whose physical presence in the rebuilt temple would fill it with a glory exceeding that of Solomon’s temple (2:7,9) and is preceded by a divine shaking up of things (2:6). Significantly, Heb. 12:26 quotes Haggai 2:6 in a context about rejecting God’s Word about Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant (Heb. 12:24). Typically, the temple, as the symbol of God’s dwelling with His people, points to the climax of that dwelling in the incarnation of the Son. Also typically, Zerubbabel prefigures Christ. Hag. 2:23 says that he is a signet ring, that which is used as a seal to ensure or authenticate. Although not officially a king, he was of the royal family and anticipated the certain coming of David’s greater Son, the rightful heir to the throne (Ezek. 21:27). Zerubbabel was the ancestor of Jesus that linked Him to David whether through the line of Joseph via Solomon (Matt. 1:12) or of Mary via Nathan (Luke 3:27). Haggai assures his readers that the Christ that must come will come.


The outline is based on the four dated messages (Haggai 1:1; 2:1,10,20).

  1. Rebuke and Response regarding the Temple Work (Haggai 1:1-15)
    1. Rebuke for Their Priorities (Haggai 1:1-11)
    2. Response of Obedience (Haggai 1:12-15)
  2. Reassurances regarding the Temple (Haggai 2:1-9)
    1. Against Discouragement (Haggai 2:1-3)
    2. In Anticipation of Greater Glory (Haggai 2:4-9)
  3. Incentives for Obedience (Haggai 2:10-19)
    1. Consequences of Disobedience (Haggai 2:10-17)
    2. Consequences of Obedience (Haggai 2:18-19)
  4. Assurances regarding a Certain Future (Haggai 2:20-23)
    1. The Overthrow of the World’s Kingdoms (Haggai 2:20-22)
    2. The Establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom (Haggai 2:23)

Extracted from: Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible Notes(Beeke, Joel R. 2015. Reformation Heritage Books).

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