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Tuesday, February 9 2016
Haggai 1: Why Didn't The Exiles Want To Go Home?
"Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them ... Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?"
The English-language rendering of Haggai is from the Hebrew name, pronounced kawg-gaw-hee, that means festive. Haggai was one of three prophets (Zechariah and Malachi were the other two - the reason that the three books are found together in present-day ordering of the Bible) whose ministries were focused on the time of Judah's national return from their seventy-years exile in Babylon (see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Return Of Judah) - what should have been a festive time.
After the division of Israel into Israel and Judah (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Israel and Judah), the Kingdom of Israel had completely fallen to the Assyrian Empire by 721 BC; those northern "lost ten tribes" never returned (see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Lost Ten Tribes).
The Assyrians were later conquered by the Babylonian Empire (the territorial extent of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires were practically the same, centered in what is today Iraq; see The Empires Of Bible History And Prophecy). It was the Babylonian Empire that conquered the kingdom of Judah by 586 BC.
The Babylonian Empire was later conquered by the Persian Empire (Persia is known today as Iran). It was during the Persian Empire, under their kings Cyrus (see The Prophecies Of Cyrus of Persia) and Darius (see The Decree Of Darius) that the people of Judah were permitted to return home from Babylon.
After seven decades, it was the children and grandchildren of the original exiles of Judah who were given to return to their ancestral home - that they had never before inhabited.
It was also a home that they did not by then want to return to because they were happy and prosperous in Babylon - exactly as the LORD told them to be, but only for their prescribed seventy years there (see What Did Jeremiah's Letter To Babylon Say?). By the appointed time of the end of their exile, they had forgotten or forsaken the reason that they were treated well there was, not only to enable their people of Judah to return to their own national home, but to conserve the Messianic line of the LORD from which Jesus Christ would be born (see the Fact Finder question below).
"29:4 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;
The LORD's prophecies through Haggai began with instructions to rebuild Jerusalem - with a rebuke to not forsake their prophetic responsibility in favor of their temporary homes in Babylon.
"1:1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month [see also The New Moon Calendar], came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, 1:2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built.
The restoration of the city of Jerusalem and the Temple progressed under Ezra and Nehemiah (see Ezra: The Return Of The Levites To Jerusalem and Nehemiah: The Return Of The Governor), although with numerous delays due opposition by the foreign inhabitants of the land, as well as by the people of Judah looking too much to their own interests. Through Haggai, the LORD commanded the people of Judah to "Consider your ways" and get on with it, for "1:4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?"
"1:5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.
So the people began to finish the work, in order to restore their purpose for being there to begin with - to set the stage for the coming of the Messiah to Zion (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Zion).
"1:12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD.
Fact Finder: How did the royal line of Jesus Christ continue through the Babylonian exile and the return to Jerusalem?
This Day In History, February 9
474: Zeno was crowned as co-Emperor of the Byzantine Empire (the East Roman Empire).
1267: The Synod of Breslau (at the time, a city in German-occupied Poland) ordered Jews to wear special caps in public (see also Jews - Three Tribes and Three Meanings).
1540: The first recorded horse race meeting in England was held at Roodeye Fields, Chester.
1555: The Bishop of Gloucester, John Hooper, was burned at the stake by English Roman Catholics for his "protestant" beliefs.
1667: The Truce of Andrusovo, a treaty between Poland and Russia that briefly ended their war for control of the Ukraine.
1674: King Charles II of England signed the Treaty of Westminster, bringing the war with the Dutch to a conclusion.
1757: The Treaty of Alinagar; it was the prelude to the British seizure of Bengal.
1788: The Habsburg Empire entered the Russo-Turkish War on the side of Russia (see also The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).
1801: France and Austria signed the Peace of Luneville.
1807: Much to the astonishment of French Christians and Jews alike, a "Sanhedrin" (see also The Passed Over Pharisees and Why Did The Sadducees Fear The Messiah?) was established at the explicit orders of Napoleon Bonaparte. In return, the 40,000 Jews of France were expected to give up their efforts for a separate state in "Palestine" (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Israel Of Judah).
1849: Giuseppe Mazzini proclaimed Rome a republic.
1917: During the First World War, the infamous Mata Hari (the stage name of a Dutch "exotic dancer"; her real name was Margaretha Zelle) was arrested by the French as a German spy. She was executed by firing squad in October of that year.
1934: The Balkan Entente was signed; a mutual defense agreement among Greece, Turkey, Romania and Yugoslavia to guarantee the signatories territorial integrity and political independence against attack by another Balkan state (i.e. Bulgaria or Albania). It proved ineffective against German influence during the 1930's and Adolf Hitler's arrogant treaty-ignoring aggression (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion) leading up to and during the Second World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars).
1942: The French passenger liner Normandie burned and sank at its pier in New York City.
1950: During the "Red Scare" hysteria, Senator Joseph McCarthy accused the U.S. Department of State of being "filled with Communists." McCarthy and his tactics were later discredited and censured. He died of liver failure from alcoholism at age 48.
1959: The Soviet R-7 Semyorka became operational as the first intercontinental ballistic missile.
1966: The National Hockey League (NHL) announced that it was expanding from 6 teams to 12. The original 6 teams (Toronto, Montreal, Detroit, Boston, New York and Chicago) would be joined by the California Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and the St. Louis Blues.
1978: Canada expelled 13 Soviet "diplomats" after they tried and failed to infiltrate the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
1994: Nelson Mandela became the first black President of South Africa.