The prophet Haggai, himself, was the tenth, in natural order, of the Minor Prophets yet he is the first to have prophesied after Israel’s captivity. Scholars are unsure, however, of the tribe, parentage, history and tradition of Haggai as a person. The name Haggai itself means “festival”. Some conclude that this may refer to Haggai possibly being born on Passover or some popular festival in Old Testament worship.
When the ruler of the Persian Empire, Cambysses, mysteriously dies while in Egypt in 522 B.C., one of his generals, Darius, replaces him. In the same year of this political and historical transition God had a plan for two prophets. Dr. James Smith notes that God “raised up two prophets, Haggai and Zechariah. In August of 520 b.c. Haggai preached a blistering sermon in which he challenged the people of Judea to build God’s temple. The work resumed immediately. Three other messages of Haggai are recorded. All were delivered before the end of the year 520 b.c.. Just before Haggai delivered his last oracle, Zechariah was called to deliver his first message. He too focused on the work of temple building.”
Gleason and Smith suggest that the theme of his prophetic book is about rebuilding the Temple or keeping His program and house then God will prosper them. Haggai contains 38 verses of text, making it second only to Obadiah in brevity.
The ministry of Haggai lasted only four months, which Smith dates from “late August to mid-December of 520 b.c.” As was Zechariah, Haggai’s focus was on the building of the temple almost exclusively. At the arrival of Haggai the building of the Temple had been in an impasse for at least fifteen years. Smith also suggests that, “In six months Haggai accomplished more than any other Old Testament prophet. He was “a steam-engine in trousers” (Pfeiffer). By the time he retired or died, the work of reconstructing the house of God was well under way.
Gleason suggests a basic structure for the sermons in Haggai. We will use his model as a basic example. The first sermon, in 1:1-15, includes Haggai condemning the people for neglect. This very neglect was the very “cause of economic depression.” The second sermon, in 2:1-9, although less dramatic, is a prophecy that the “second temple will be more glorious than the first.” The third sermon, in 2:20-23, is a declaration that un-holiness contaminates sacrifice and that “selfishness leads to crop failure.” The latter occurs during the third in 2:10–19. The fourth sermon, in 2:20-23, is a glorious message that “God will finally triumph.
1. Archer, G. L. (1998, c1994). A survey of Old Testament introduction (3rd. ed.].) (469). Chicago: Moody Press.
2. Smith, J. E. (1992). The Minor Prophets. Joplin, Mo.: College Press.