What does it say?

As learned previously, Haggai ministers among the returned Jewish exiles setting out to rebuild the temple and complements what we read in Ezra. When the work is halted by government order, they grow discouraged and then complacent. For 16 years the work languishes until God uses a change of government and the ministry of Haggai to spark the Jews to take up the work again. Five years later they finish.

In chapter one Haggai addresses the governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua, the civil and religious leaders in Jerusalem. The obvious focus is to motivate them to finish work on the temple, but the deeper objective is to reveal the real obstacle to rebuilding – their misplaced priorities. They had grown comfortable and built beautiful homes for themselves while the temple sits unfinished.

To those disappointed that the rebuilt temple will not be as splendid as Solomon’s, Haggai points them to the future by revealing (Hag 2) that this earthly temple is merely a foreshadowing of the millennial temple yet to come, a temple that will be glorious beyond human capacity to comprehend. In the later part of the chapter he reminds them that the sacrificial and ceremonial systems of the law are likewise only symbolic of spiritual realities.

What does it mean?

Haggai motivates ordinary people to extraordinary achievements by aligning their priorities and obeying God. By pointing to the future kingdom and glory in chapter 2, he focuses them on what is yet to come rather than only on what is. When we focus on what God has promised, we focus on possibilities rather than merely realities that are often discouraging.

The discussion in Haggai 2:10-14 can be confusing to one not versed in the Hebrew Law. In essence the message is simple: Righteousness is not contagious (2:10-12), but wickedness is (2:13). And, sin in one area of life affects all other areas (2:14).

In all we see in Haggai, the prophet continually calls upon the people to consider or reflect upon their ways (1:5,7; 2:15,16). Reading the Bible with an open heart should always provoke personal reflection that results in personal application and not mere knowledge and information alone.

How will I respond?

Does my life have a backward or a forward focus? If I have a backward focus, what step(s) should I take as I reflect upon my ways? Is my life focused on possibilities or stymied by seeing only visible realities?