Thursday, February 02, 2017

Haggai - Author, Location, Date

Haggai (12thC A.D.), Saint Mark's Basilica, Venice, Italy)
Haggai shows us Jesus Christ, Desire of the Nations

Author: Haggai which means, “My Feast” or “On the Feast.” Haggai might have been born to Godly parents on a feast day in Exile in Babylonia and came to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel in 538 BC (2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4). Haggai is mentioned in Ezra 5:1-2; 6:14 as one of two prophets who encouraged the remnant from Exile to rebuild the Temple in spite of the difficulties. He exalted the LORD instead of himself. He cheered and encouraged, not just rebuked. He practiced what he preached. Haggai and the younger prophet Zechariah worked at the same time. Zechariah was the visionary. Haggai was practical get-the-job-done. These two kinds of people need to walk together.

Location & Date: post-Exile Jerusalem – 520 BC
Haggai 1:1 dates his prophecy as the “second year of Darius,” That was 520 BC. We know because King Darius I (521-486 BC) of Persia left a detailed history of himself in stone called the Behistun Inscription. For the history of this period, see Ezra 1:1 - 4:5; 4:24 - 6:22. The moment of his prophecy is found at Ezra 4:5; 4:24-5:2; 6:14. Contained in Haggai are the transcripts of five sermons given August 29 - December 24, 520 BC. Haggai’s detailed dating is confirmed with history, archaeology, and astronomical data to provide strong reliability of the text.

The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem’s Temple in 586 BC, and God’s people were exiled for 70 years. The Post-Exilic Prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, had a new problem that earlier prophets had never had. Before the Exile, Israel relied heavily on their Temple and rituals rather than on a true relationship with God. The post-Exilic prophets ministered to a discouraged and apathetic people who had given up the idea that anything they did would make any difference. After they restored the foundation of the Temple, the Jews stopped work, and for fifteen years no work was done. God called Haggai to encourage God’s people to finish the work.

When the Jews returned to Jerusalem following the Exile and saw the destruction and rubble of the city that was still left after seventy years, they just wanted to give up. They were also influenced by the Persian idea that all religions had equal value. In consequence, the Jews saw no real reason to pay careful attention to being a distinctive people of God. They just wanted to cruise, and they were drifting away from their moorings. Outside opposition, discouragement, and self-interest had disabled God’s people. The post-Exilic prophets saw the great danger of the loss of their Biblical heritage and the promise of the Messiah. This is where we find ourselves as a nation, from God-honoring to an apathetic, pluralistic, and rebellious nation. We need Haggai’s to encourage us forward in revival!