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Bible: What Does Haggai Teach Us About the Building of the Second Temple?
The Prophet Haggai
Joshua, the High Priest
THE BOOK OF HAGGAI
On a specified day (the sixth month and first day) early in the reign of Darius the Mede [Gubaru; see commentary note in Daniel 9:1; chronologically, the book of Haggai originates c. 520 B.C], Haggai the prophet discloses a divine message to Governor Zerubbabel and High Priest Joshua (v. 1).
One salient thought dominates verses two through eleven: Judah languishes terribly because the leaders have neglected to rebuild the temple.
[The Jews returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian Captivity in 536 B.C.].
After the man of God reviews their selfish ways with them (v. 4), he brings to light the “fruit” of these deeds: they have insufficient necessities for life (v. 6).
To return to the place of God's blessing, they must begin to work on the temple (v. 8).
Having become so addicted to their own comfort ("everyone runs to his own house"), they had forgotten the LORD (v. 9).
As a result of their “memory loss,” drought has swept in and their needs go unsatisfied (vv. 10-11).
Convicted by the word of the LORD, the leaders and people obey Haggai's instruction (v. 12).
Then God communicates to them that His presence would enable them to accomplish the rebuilding ("the LORD stirred up the spirit . . . and they came and worked . . . ") [vv. 13-14].
Twenty-three days after Haggai's initial message, the people proceed with the task at hand (v. 15).
The Second Temple
A Millennial Temple?
Do you believe Israel will construct a temple in the Millennium?
Less than one month later, Haggai receives another revelation in which Yahweh directs him to speak to the leaders and the rest of the people (vv. 1-2).
His message is one of encouragement: the LORD will remain with all of them to complete the work.
Even though the Second Temple will be inferior to Solomon's marvel, they should still persevere in the task (vv. 3-5).
After Yahweh shakes both nature and the nations in the future, He will make still another temple command even greater glory than the former ones did (vv. 6-9).
[The Lord will instruct His people to build another temple in the Millennium (see Ezekiel 40-48)].
Requirement for Blessing
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Two months and three days later, Haggai receives yet two more messages from God (vv. 10, 20).
The first one concerns an application of the Law: how to deal properly with clean and unclean things.
Holiness is non-transmittable, but uncleanness is (vv. 12-13; cf. Lev. 22).
The point is that the nation and its deeds have become "unclean" through the transmission of evil among themselves (v. 14).
Now that they have begun to rebuild, Yahweh desires that the people "consider" what will happen in the land.
Before this turnaround, they did not prosper, for the LORD had sent natural setbacks against them (vv. 15-17).
Their repentance, manifested by laying the temple foundation, begins to bring God's blessing again upon the land (vv. 18-19).
By His second word to Haggai on that pivotal day, God directs the prophet to speak to Governor Zerubbabel (vv. 20-21).
His message regards both the overthrow of Gentile kingdoms and the exalting of the governor (vv. 22-23).
[Is this a prophecy that will also see an eschatological fulfillment?
Is Zerubbabel a type of Christ?]
SUMMARY QUESTIONS OF HAGGAI
1. How long have the people neglected to rebuild the temple by the time Haggai writes his prophecy?
2. How did Yahweh enable them to accomplish this task?
3. What were the subjects of each of the four messages God gave to the prophet?
4. Who are the other two prominent leaders at this time? According to chapter two, what will Zerubbabel's future role be?
5. What constituted Israel’s repentance?
6. What was the “fruit” of the people’s selfishness?
7. When did Haggai write his book?
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