The Book of Haggai : Introduction


In the Old Testament the physical temple was a picture or type of the spiritual temple established in the New Testament. Every new covenant believer in Messiah is a living stone pressed together with other living stones that corporately make up God’s corporate spiritual temple in which He dwells by His Holy Spirit. (Jeremiah 31:31-34) (1 Corinthians 3:16). If one does not have the Spirit of Jesus the Messiah living deep down on the inside of them they do not belong to Him (Romans 8:9).

The Lord Jesus Himself is the living full embodiment of the temple revealed in a flesh and blood man and He acknowledged this (John 2:19-21). The physical Temple, its furniture, its sacrifices, its priesthood, and its offerings and its sacrifices all point to Him as the Eternal Word of God Himself who became flesh and blood and tabernacled among us (John 1:1-4, 14). The Lord Jesus is the Passover Lamb sacrificed for sin once and for all time, a sacrifice never to be repeated (John 1:29) (1 Corinthians 5:7) (1 John 2:2) (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12, 24-28; 10:10-12).

He is the Living foundation Stone upon which the other living stones (New Covenant believers) as a corporate spiritual temple are built. (1 Peter 2:4-6). God’s corporate spiritual temple or house, the Body of Messiah, is His spiritual Temple in whom He dwells by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Also our bodies individually are living spiritual temples because His Spirit dwells in is individually as New Covenant believers (Romans 8: 9, 11, 15) (2 Corinthians 6:16) (Galatians 4:6) (Colossians 1:27) (2 Timothy 1:4) (Titus 3:5) (1 John 2:27; 4:15).

So then in light of these truths concerning God’s Temple in the Old Testament, when we see His people in the Book of Haggai working individually and collectively to build His physical temple, we have a type of God’s Temple in the New Testament, which is not a physical temple but a spiritual one.

God’s spiritual Temple, the Body of Messiah, is a global spiritual body that is at work in individual assemblies and in the lives of individuals. Any work for God takes due diligence, persistence, endurance, sacrifice and the constant resistance against the desires of the flesh and the tendency to laziness in spiritual matters and in working to build God’s spiritual kingdom on earth.

There are many distractions that the world offers today that can cause us as individual New Covenant believers, or collectively as the local Body of Messiah, to neglect the matters concerning the building of God’s House which consist in seeing souls saved, sinners sanctified and believers edified and empowered to serve in their local assemblies, and seeking through the gifts of the Spirit to build up their fellow brothers and sisters in Messiah in their most holy faith.

Building our own houses and acquiring material possessions, or driving a nice car, or holding down a good job and having money in the bank in themselves are not wrong, because God has given us all things we need for life and godliness through our personal relationship with the Messiah our Lord Jesus (2 Peter 1:2-3). The problem arises for us spiritually when the things we have become more important to us than working for the kingdom of God.

Our Lord Jesus told us that the most important thing we need to persist in by faith is in seeking first the things concerning the kingdom of God and the righteousness of life that comes from Him, and that everything else we need for daily living, whether spiritual or temporal, will be given to us by God (Matthew 6:32-34). With these thoughts in mind let’s now look at the Book of Haggai which centres on the building of God’s Temple by the remnant of Israelites that had returned to Jerusalem in 538 BC by the decree of the Persian King Cyrus.

The Historical Background

The prophet Haggai ministered among the Jews who had returned to Judea after some 70 years of exile in Babylon. The Persian ruler Cyrus the Great captured Babylon in 539 B.C. In 538 he permitted the Jews to return to Jerusalem so that they might rebuild the temple (Ezra 1–2). The work of rebuilding stalled, however, when opposition arose (Ezra 3:1–4:4-5).

The Outline of the Book

Study No.1 Reluctant Builders (1:1-2) Study No.2 Consider Your Ways (1:3-12) Study No.3 Starting to Build (1:13-15) Study No. 4 The Former and Latter Glory (2:1-9) Study No.5 Repentance and Renewal (2:10-19) Study No.6 The Victory of the Messiah (2:20-23)

The Purpose of the Book

As an overview the purpose of Haggai speaking prophetically to God’s people was to encourage the returned remnant to move from a resigned satisfaction with their return to the land to an expression of faith by making an effort to rebuild the temple, to encourage the returned remnant toward the reestablishment of temple worship as the nation’s main goal, to encourage the returned remnant that Yahweh would bless them and the land as they moved towards rebuilding the temple, and to encourage the returned remnant that Yahweh had a future place of importance for them in spite of their past rebellion and prophetically God’s Temple would be His Millennial Temple in which the Messiah would reign in the Messianic Kingdom.

Jerusalem in the time of Haggai in 520BC

Haggai prophesied to the people of Jerusalem after they had returned from Babylon in 538 B.C. The walls and temple of Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. Within a year after returning from Babylon, the people had laid the foundation for the new temple, but by Haggai’s time they had still not completed it. They had become spiritually neglectful in their zeal to build the temple for God’s glory as well as having been discouraged by those enemies of Israel that had resisted and opposed their work on the temple. They had the foundations in place but had neglected to keep building on that foundation and instead were focusing on building their own houses and enjoying their physical comforts.

They would have still had their religious gatherings but there was no zeal to complete God’s House, and in order to have Temple worship the temple would need to have been finished. Serving the LORD before anything else was no longer their number one priority. Added to this, they were also discouraged at the opposition they had faced in the past when they were laying the foundations. The foundation was laid in 536 BC (Ezra 3:8-13; 5:16). Samaritan and Persian resistance ended the building of the temple for 16 years until 520 BC (Ezra 4:4-5). Haggai and Zechariah prophesied from 520-518 B.C. encouraging the nation to rebuild the temple which was completed in 515 BC.

God wanted to bless them and use them as a witness to the surrounding nations to show His glory and splendour, but His people had settled down to rather enjoy their lives and their nice houses and their lifestyles, while neglecting their work of building His kingdom through building His temple, which in itself would be a testimony to the surrounding pagan nations with their idolatry and numerous deities that there was only One Triune God. Because there was no immediate opposition God’s people had settled down to just live their lives.

So then Haggai, together with Zechariah, called upon the people to stop focusing on their own economic well-being and complete the temple. Haggai prophesied in an effort to motivate the people to renew their work of temple restoration. This prophecy has relevance to the current spiritual state of the wider Body of Messiah today being God’s spiritual temple or house primarily in the western democracies, which by and large are neglecting to build the Kingdom of God and in many cases building their own kingdoms and memorials to themselves.

There are four prophecies in this book. These four prophecies of Haggai start with a call for God’s people to change their ways and the prophecies end with the blessing of God and the prophecy about the Second Coming of the Messiah to reign over the Gentile nations from the Millennial Temple at Jerusalem.

Go to Study No.1