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Haggai

Haggai, from the Hebrew name pronounced cawg-gah-ee (notice how the actual names in Hebrew were often pronounced much differently than we have become familiar with them in English; other examples, David is pronounced daw-veed, Moses is pronounced moe-sheh), meaning festive, was one of the twelve so-called "minor prophets" of the Bible (because of the relatively short books). Haggai is unique however in that he is one of the few (Zechariah and Malachi are others) who prophesied after the Jews' return from the Babylonian exile (see Why Babylon?). For that reason, Haggai's prophecies involved both encouragements for their own time of rebuilding (prophet simply means inspired speaker, inspired by the Holy Spirit speaker, not necessarily, or always, someone who proclaims what is coming in the future; see also Prophets) as well as a future prophecy of the time when The Lord will conquer all kingdoms and establish the Kingdom of God on earth.

"The Word of The Lord came by Haggai the prophet"

Haggai prophesied at the same time as Zechariah, while Malachi prophesied later.

Jerusalem

"Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them." (Ezra 5:1 RSV)

Not a great amount is recorded about Haggai (why should it - the Scriptures are about the message, not the messenger), apart from that he was a true prophet of God at the time of Zerubbabel (see the Fact Finder question below). The people of Judah had been occupying themselves with merely their own restoration; The Lord asked, in referring to the Temple that remained in ruins, "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this House lies in ruins?"

"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 Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, "Thus says The Lord of hosts: This people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of The Lord."

Then the word of The Lord came by Haggai the prophet, "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this House lies in ruins?" (Haggai 1:1-4 RSV)

The people of Judah apparently thought that they couldn't afford to support the rebuilding, but Haggai made clear that they couldn't afford not to - the reason that they weren't prospering is because they were not being responsible toward The Lord's service.

"Now therefore thus says The Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared. 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 earns wages to put them into a bag with holes. "Thus says The Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared." (Haggai 1:5-7 RSV)

If God's people had been generous to Him, The Lord would have blessed them with abundance. On the other hand, when the people withheld from The Lord, He withheld prosperity from them.

"Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may appear in my glory, says The Lord. You have looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says The Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while you busy yourselves each with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought upon the land and the hills, upon the grain, the new wine, the oil, upon what the ground brings forth, upon men and cattle, and upon all their labors." (Haggai 1:8-11 RSV)

Although Jerusalem and the Temple were utterly destroyed, The Lord assured them that it would rise again.

"In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of The Lord came by Haggai the prophet, "Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, 'Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not in your sight as nothing? Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says The Lord; take courage, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; take courage, all you people of the land, says The Lord; work, for I am with you, says The Lord of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit abides among you; fear not." (Haggai 2:1-5 RSV)

Haggai also prophesied about the future time when the Kingdom of God would be established over all nations.

"The word of The Lord came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, "Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders; and the horses and their riders shall go down, every one by the sword of his fellow. On that day, says The Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, says The Lord, and make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you, says The Lord of hosts." (Haggai 2:20-23 RSV)

Fact Finder: Who was Zerubbabel? Was he one of the physical ancestors of Jesus Christ?
See Zerubbabel


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