Read chapter in full: biblegateway.com/passage/?version=ESV&search=Haggai+001
When Cyrus, king of Persia, conquered Babylon in 539 BC, he allowed the exiled Jews to return home and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. One group returned the next year, completing and dedicating the temple foundation within two more years. But they were stopped by suspicious and resentful neighbors who had influence in the Persian court (see Ezra 4:4–6:22). Sixteen years later, when King Darius takes the throne, the prophet Haggai urges the people to restart their work. He calls specifically on Zerubbabel, the appointed governor, and Joshua the high priest, to lead the project. Within four years the reconstruction was completed and worship in the temple resumed.
Haggai delivers his four messages during a strategic four-month period at the beginning of Darius’ reign. The first message explains that Israel’s crops aren’t being blessed because God’s house has been left in ruins. The second message gives encouragement to those who found the new temple disappointing compared to Solomon’s original temple. God promises that its glory will outshine the first temple. The third message assures the people that from now on their crops will be blessed. The final message is a personal encouragement to Zerubbabel himself, the heir to the throne of David. The people are back in their land, and so is God’s blessing.
Haggai 1 (ESV)
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.
- When the Jews returned to Jerusalem from the captivity in 538 BC, they actively rebuilt their national center of worship, the Temple, laying the foundations for further construction; however, 15 years have passed, and the project made no progress and was still in its initial stage. For this reason, God raised up Haggai to urge the people to make great efforts to build the Temple of God.
- However, the people’s reaction to the prophet’s censure was to make excuses, saying that the time has not yet come (2), but the question is, what is the right time? Today, many believers also make excuses saying that the time has not yet come to shirk the opportunity to serve, and only through self-examination can we take action to revive.
- God asks His people: Why do you live in luxurious houses while the Temple lies in ruins (3-6)? The Temple was the focal point of Judah’s relationship with God, but it was still desolate. Instead of rebuilding the Temple, the people worked hard to beautify their homes. The more people plan for their life, the poorer they become, because they neglect their spiritual life. Likewise, if we put God first, He will provide us with all our needs, otherwise, our efforts will be in vain. Only caring for the needs of the flesh and ignoring the relationship with God will only lead to destruction.
Merciful Lord, forgive me for not putting You first in everything and not valuing spiritual matters. I would like to put Your concerns in mind before anything else, and I ask You to give me the correct and appropriate values to establish a closer relationship with You.
Seek Ye First – youtu.be/EsBpM9IcBts