20 Dec 2018
Small Prophet; Big Message
Haggai wrote his message after King Cyrus had conquered Babylon in 538 BC. Cyrus told exiles they could return to their homelands provided they built a temple to their God where they could pray for him. Only 500,000 Jews returned because it meant poverty and hard work compared with the established trade they were leaving.
The returning Jews were led by Joshua, the high priest, and Zerubbabel, the only remaining member of David’s royal line. Haggai prophesied to Zerubbabel, “I [God]… will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you…” (Haggai 2:23). This meant Zerubbabel would be re-established in the royal priesthood. He appears in both Joseph’s and Mary’s genealogy.
Zerubbabel and Joshua prioritised building an altar and began the building of a temple around it. However, the Jews grew tired and stopped building for many years. Their economy fell into recession and harvests failed. Haggai warned that while they put their own homes before the Lord’s temple He would withhold blessing.
The people made God their priority again and He said, “I am with you” (see Haggai 1:13). Two months later, despite having built the temple, the expected rain hadn’t fallen. Haggai questioned God, who asked him whether clean things could make dirty things clean.
The message was clear. The people had thought that building a clean temple would make them clean. Instead, they were defiling the temple and needed to put their lives right. If our work for the Lord seems ineffective, we need to examine ourselves. He is looking for vessels that have been made clean by the blood of Jesus, but we also need to obey Him.
Pause and reflect: “Search me, O God, and know my heart… see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).