During the month of May, we are walking through the book of Haggai. This will give you the context of the book to help you better understand the significance of what the prophet wrote. I believe the message in Haggai is the message the church, our church, needs desperately to hear.
Haggai is the next-to-the-next-to last book in the OT. It is a post exilic writing. What does that mean?
After Solomon’s reign, Israel divided into 2 parts, the Northern Kingdom (keeping the name Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (called Judah). Because both parts persisted in sin, God promised judgment in the form of conquest by another nation. This would put the Jews in exile, out of their own land.
In 720 BC, Northern Israel was conquered by the Assyrians.
In 586 BC, Southern Israel, Judah, was conquered by the Babylonians.
But God did not forget His promise to Israel to possess the land, so in 536 BC, the Jews began to return to their land from exile. How? Persia became the new world power (539 BC), and King Cyrus considered a defeated people would be glad to serve if in their own land. So he allowed the Jews to return. About 50,000 did in the first wave, led by a civil leader and a religious leader (Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest, respectively).
Much rebuilding needed done to their homeland, especially rebuilding the Temple, the Old Testament House of God. In 536 BC, the foundation of the Temple was laid, but the work stopped just 2 years into the project.
What’s the big deal with the Temple being rebuilt? First of all, it is the focal point of Israel’s worship. Neglecting the Temple shows that worship is being neglected. Secondly, this Temple would eventually be a place Jesus would minister, and it carries much significance surrounding the events of His life and work.
In 520 BC, after 14 years of looking at an unfinished Temple, the Lord speaks through the prophet Haggai. The Israelites have put themselves and their comfort ahead of rebuilding the Temple, the place representing God’s presence among them.Their priorities have gotten really off kilter, and that is what the book of Haggai is about.
Is God, and the things of God, a priority? Or have you made yourself, your comfort, your desires, a priority over God?
When you make yourself the priority, everything falls apart, but when God is at the center, He blesses as only He can. God has the answer that turns everything around. Because He Himself is the answer.
So, to summarize:
720 BC - Assyrians conquer Israel (Northern Kingdom)
586 BC - Babylonians conquer Judah (Southern kingdom of Israel)
539 BC - Persians conquer Babylonians
538 BC - Jews allowed to return to their land
536 BC - Foundation of the Temple laid
534 BC - Building of the Temple stops
520 BC - Haggai calls the Jews to rebuild the Temple - the LORD is the priority!
516 BC - The Temple is completed
2014 AD - Harvest Bible Chapel Pittsburgh North reads the book of Haggai and examines her own priorities
p.s. - Make coming to Harvest a priority for this series on priorities.