More Haggai

As I’ve noted in a different post on this blogsite, there are five one-chapter books in the Bible. There are also seven three-chapter books and six four-chapter books. But there is only one two-chapter book, namely the Book of Haggai.


It’s the second shortest book in the Old Testament. It is quoted once in the New Testament, at Hebrews 12:26 (quoting Haggai 2:6, about God promising to shake heaven and earth; see also Haggai 2:21). The prophet Haggai himself is mentioned in Ezra 5:1 and 6:14. In the Septuagint translation the book refers to “Jesus” instead of “Joshua” (when referring to the name of the son of the high priest at the time) and “Haggai” itself appears as “Aggaios.”

My pithy summary elsewhere on this blogsite of the lessons from this book says: “Haggai:  God does not want you to neglect His house, and will punish you if you do.” The book, you see, takes place after the Jews have returned to Jerusalem following the Babylonian captivity. Their return and the rebuilding of the temple had the support of the Persian king Cyrus, but temple work had come to a standstill in the face of apathy and some other opposition. See Ezra 4:3-5.

The format of the book is straightforward: Haggai apparently prophesied five times, so five times the book the date of the prophecy is given, and then the prophecy itself is quoted (except for the second prophecy, where the date is given after the prophecy is described). It’s interesting — and impressive — that the year, month, and day of the prophecy is given here. So far as I can tell, of the other prophets only Ezekiel does that; Zechariah, another post-exilic prophet and Haggai’s contemporary, comes close, but gives the month only. The book is mostly the prophecies; there’s only a bit of narrative connecting them.


The five actual prophesies are straightforward, too:

First: The Lord chastises the Jews for not rebuilding the temple, even as they build nice houses for themselves, and tells them that this is the reason they are not prospering.

Second: Here the Lord simply declares, “I am with you” when the people showed reverence for the Lord and began working again on the temple.

Third: The Lord reassures the people that, while the new temple might not seem now as splendid as the old one, ultimately its glory will be greater. According to the John MacArthur study Bible, this (in particular verse 2:7) is a Messianic reference: “‘And I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations; and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts.” There’s also a reference in this third prophecy to the Holy Spirit (verse 2:5).

Fourth: The Lord likewise reassures the people that, though they and their work had been unclean before and so they were not rewarded, from now on they would be because they are finally rebuilding the temple.

Fifth: On that same day (as the fourth prophecy), Haggai also prophesied that the Lord would exalt Zerubbabel, who was then governor of Judah, even as He overthrows other powers and kingdoms.


Note that we have God using sarcasm in 1:4: “‘Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house [i.e., the temple] lies desolate?'”

My one other comment is that Joel Olsteen should love this book. Bad things undeniably happen to good people, but there’s also no gainsaying that sometimes God promises earthly success to those who follow Him (and a lack thereof to those who don’t), and Haggai’s prophecies convey that.