BibleProject - Old Testament - Lesson 39

Haggai - BibleProject

In this lesson, the Book of Haggai is explored in depth. The historical and cultural context is discussed, including the circumstances of the Israelites during the time of Haggai's prophecy. The literary context of the book is also examined, including the structure and authorship of the text. The purpose and themes of the book are analyzed, as well as its significance in the larger theological context. The book is then broken down into its individual sections and analyzed, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the text. Finally, the theological significance of Haggai is explored, including its connection to the Exile and Restoration, as well as its relationship to the Messiah.
Taught by a Team
Taught by a Team
BibleProject - Old Testament
Lesson 39
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Haggai - BibleProject

I. Introduction to Haggai

A. Historical and Cultural Context

B. Literary Context

C. Authorship and Date

D. Purpose and Themes

II. The Book of Haggai

A. Overview and Outline

B. Analysis of the Text

1. Haggai 1:1-11

2. Haggai 1:12-15

3. Haggai 2:1-9

4. Haggai 2:10-19

5. Haggai 2:20-23

III. Theological Significance of Haggai

A. Haggai and the Exile

B. Haggai and the Restoration

C. Haggai and the Messiah

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BP100-39 Haggai The book of the prophet Haggai. It is one of the smaller prophetic books but crucially important in the overall story of the Hebrew Bible. For centuries, Hebrew prophets had been accusing Israel of breaking their covenant with God through idolatry and injustice. They warned that God would send the great empire of Babylon to take out Jerusalem, destroy the temple and haul off the people into exile. It all happened in the year 587 BC but that was not the end of the story. The prophets also believed that there was still hope and that God would one day bring back a transformed remnant of his people Israel to live in a new Jerusalem where God's presence would live in their midst. When we turn to Haggai, the year is 520 BC, nearly 70 years after the exile. The Babylonian Empire has recently collapsed and the world is now ruled by the Persians. They allowed the return of any exiled Israelites who wanted to go back to Jerusalem, which still lay in ruins. So, under the leadership of a high priest named Joshua and Zerubbabel, an heir from the line of David, and a group of exiles they all returned and begin to rebuild the city and their lives. Remember the story from the book of Ezra chapters 1 to 6 . So, our hopes are high and the future seems very bright. But it is not, actually, at least from Haggai's point of view. The book consists of four sections that summarize Haggai's message given to the people of Jerusalem over the course of four months. He opens by accusing the people of misplaced priorities. So, yes, they have come back to Jerusalem but they are spending all of their time and resources rebuilding their own fancy houses while the temple still lay in ruins from its destruction from 70 years ago. So Haggai asks, are your own houses really more important than your allegiance to God? This neglect, Haggai says, is tantamount to the covenant rebellion of their ancestors, which is why the land is still unproductive, why they have been struck with famine and drought. Here, Haggai is quoting from the list of covenant curses in the book of Deuteronomy. So, Haggai's challenging words are followed by a story of the people's response. Remember the story in Ezra chapter 5. We are told as Zerubbabel, Joshua, the remnant of the people were provoked by Haggai's message, and they were motivated. They started rebuilding the temple. In the next section Haggai follows up one month later. He addresses some problems of shattered expectations among the people. The temple that they are rebuilding is really pretty unimpressive. It is nothing compared to the glory of the temple Solomon built here some 500 years earlier. So morale was really low for finishing the project. So Haggai reminds the people of the great prophetic promises of the future kingdom of God and about this temple. He draws from the earlier prophets especially Isaiah and Micah about the new Jerusalem and that it would be the place from which God would redeem the whole world and where all nations would come and participate in God's kingdom, resulting in an era of peace. So the temple plays a key role in God's plans for the future. Haggai calls on the people to work in hope despite the disappointing circumstances. In the third section, Haggai follows up two months later with a call to covenant faithfulness. He engages some priests in a conversation about ritual purity. Remember all the key ideas from the book of Leviticus. He says if someone goes and touches a dead body and becomes ritually impure or marked by death and then they go and touch some food, is that food impure too? The priests, knowing the book of Leviticus, say, "Yes, it is impure." Then Haggai turns this into a parable. He says this is how it is with the people of Israel and what they are putting their hands to in rebuilding the temple. If the current generation does not humble themselves, if they do not turn from injustice and apathy then Haggai says whatever they build with their hands, including this new temple will be impure too. Haggai's challenge is that it is only by true repentance and covenant faithfulness that their building efforts will result in God bringing his kingdom and blessing. So, in a sense, Israel's future lay in their hands. God is waiting for his people to be faithful. So, the choice that Haggai is laying before the exiled generation is very similar to the challenge Moses gave the wilderness generation before entering the land. Their obedience will lead to blessing and success while faithlessness will lead to ruin. The book concludes with Haggai's summary of the future hope of God's kingdom. He is going to make the new Jerusalem the center of His glorious international kingdom. From there He will confront and defeat evil among the nations. He reminds people of the defeat of Pharaoh's army and the exodus story. God will fulfill here his promise to David and establish the King from his line. In Haggai's day, that was represented by Zerubbabel. And so the book ends with the choice of a bright future just hanging there So the question is, will Haggai's generation be faithful to God? Will they experience the fulfillment of all these promises? Will Zerubbabel be faithful? Will he turn out to be the messianic king? You have to just keep reading into the final two books of the prophets Zechariah and Malachi to find out. But you can see how this little book contains a great challenge to every generation of God's people, that our choices really matter, and that the faithfulness and obedience of God's people is part of how God has chosen to work out His purposes in the world. This surprising truth should motivate humility and action in God's people as they look forward to God's coming Kingdom. That is the message of the book of Haggai.