This Sunday we began a two-week series on the book of Haggai. If you are not familiar with this little book, it is the tenth book in the Minor Prophets, and its four-fold message serves as a turning point in the Twelve, as the Book of the Twelve shifts from looking at God’s judgment (Nahum–Zephaniah) to the restoration of God’s people (Haggai–Malachi).
In this week’s sermon, we considered the hopeful message of this prophet, who called the people to seek God first and to finish rebuilding the temple. In his first message (1:1–11), Haggai rebukes the people, the leaders, especially, for prioritizing their own comfort before the Lord’s worship. Thankfully, unlike the previous minor prophets, the people obeyed God’s word and repent (1:12–15). In response, Yahweh promised to be with them and strengthen them as they rebuild his temple (2:1–9).
In this word of encouragement, God tells them that a day is coming in the future when he will shake the heavens and the earth, only to establish a greater kingdom with a greater temple. Thus, Haggai not only has a message for the Jews returning from exile in 520 BC, but also has a message for us. And by listening to his message, we see more clearly all God has done and is doing in Christ.
Therefore, Haggai is far more than a short word from the Lord to an ancient people. Rather, like a sturdy hinge, it swings the message of the Twelve towards God’s grace and the coming of Christ.
For those interested, you can listen to the sermon online. Discussion questions and additional resources are listed below.
The Father’s Rebuke
1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: 2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” 3 Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. 7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. 9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. 10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”
The Remnant’s Repentance
12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord. 13 Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, “I am with you, declares the Lord.” 14 And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
The Remnant’s Reinforcement
1 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet: 2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? 4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, 5 according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. 6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’ ”
- Before Sunday’s sermon, how much did you know about Haggai? What have you learned (to appreciate) about reading the whole counsel of God’s word?
- In reading Haggai, what stands out to you? What names, ideas, words repeat? (e.g., the word of God, the focus on Zerubbabel and Joshua, the focus on the temple)
- How is the book organized?
- Who are the four people we meet in Haggai 1:1? What do we know about them? What do they tell us about the historical context? In other words, what’s going on in 520 BC?
- What is the first message about? Why have the people experienced poverty? See Leviticus 26:19–20, Deuteronomy 28:24, 30, 38–40, 48.
- Why is it significant to understand Haggai as a book written under the old covenant (see Haggai 2:5)? What is a way Haggai could be abused by prosperity preachers?
- Denying the application of works-based prosperity, what does Haggai teach us about seeking God first? How do Haggai and Jesus words in Matthew 6:25–34 relate? See Matthew 6:33.
- Why were the people discouraged/despairing as they built the temple (Haggai 2:4–5, cf. Ezra 3:12)? How does God strengthen the people? How do his words encourage you today?
- What else did you learn from Haggai? What other questions do you have?
- Before next week, read Hebrews 12; it will help you prepare for the rest of the book and next week’s sermon.
- Reading the Minor Prophets Together: Ten Observations from Paul House’s ‘The Unity of the Twelve’
- Reading the Bible Better: Finding Unity in the Book of the Twelve
- Finding Theological Unity in The Twelve
For Bible students and teachers, these four resources would help your study of the Minor Prophets.
- The Faith of Israel by William Dumbrell
- The Christ of the Prophets by O. Palmer Robertson
- The Message of the Twelve: Hearing the Voice of the Minor Prophets by Richard Alan Fuhr and Gary E. Yates
- The Unity of the Twelve by Paul House
Soli Deo Gloria, ds