Bible Study: Haggai

The Calendar

Haggai delivered four messages and he dated all of them in the second year of King Darius (Hystaspes) of Persia (520 B.C.). Ezekiel and Daniel had probably died by this time. Haggai’s ministry, as this book records it, spanned less than four months, from the first day of the sixth month (1:1) to the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (2:10,20). In the modern calendar, these dates would have been between August 29 and December 18, 520 B.C. Haggai prophesied to the returning remnant prior to Zechariah, who began prophesying to the returnees in the eighth month of that same year (Zec 1:1). Haggai was the most precise of all the prophets in dating his messages. His messages were to stir a remnant to regain their zeal for God.

The people had returned from Babylon but, due to opposition, had ceased building for God. The people were 16 years late in their efforts; it was now 520 B.C., not 536 B.C. The message is directed to the leadership and reminds us of the responsibility of leadership in building for God in a local assembly. Leaders are expected to lead.

His Course

Here is a man whose ministry spanned roughly four months. As was the case with John the Baptist, Haggai was raised up for a very brief but effective ministry.

The Content of the Messages

This book and Hosea are the only inspired prophet writings in the Old Testament that do not contain one or more oracles against foreign nations. His ministry was to the remnant. All was leading to a specific day (“from this day” in 2:15,18,19) and God’s desire to bless His people. Haggai’s ministry was intended to bring them to a spiritual condition where they could receive the blessing of God. He speaks of the need for priority, power of the Spirit, purity, and the purpose of God for Zerubbabel.

The Cause for the Messages – Condition of the People

The Reality

  • The right people, in the right place, and right practices – yet no blessing

The Reason

  • Unprofitable Priorities
  • Unwise Comparisons
  • Unrealistic Perspectives
  • Unnecessary Fears

The Root Causes

  • The Problem of Indifference
  • The Problem of Insignificance
  • The Problem of Impatience
  • The Problem of Intimidation

The Consequence of the Messages

He affirmed the divine authority for his messages 25 times. In contrast to almost all the writing prophets, Haggai was successful in that the people to whom he preached listened to him and obeyed his exhortations.

Five times over Haggai calls to the people to “consider” or “set your heart.” God is reasoning with His people and showing how thoughtless they had been.

The Compensation Promised to Them

  • “I will take pleasure” – doing it for God’s heart was to be their priority
  • “I will be glorified”
  • “I am with you”
  • “From this day I will bless thee” – their blessing mentioned last, as it was not to be the chief motivation

The Character of God as Revealed in the Book

  • He chastens
  • He takes pleasure in all that reflects His person and glory
  • He is faithful (1:13 – “I am with you”)
  • He is sovereign (2:6)
  • He is the Lord of Hosts
  • He is a God who blesses His people
  • He is a God of might and power (2:20-23)

The Construction of the Book – Built Around Four Messages

  • Message to Challenge an Indifferent People (1:1-15)
  • Message to Comfort an Insignificant People (2:1-9)
  • Message to Console an Impatient People (2:10-19)
  • Message of Courage to an Intimidated Leader (2:20-23)