Philippe R. Sterling
Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all things necessary for physical and spiritual life will be added to you.
Haggai is a post-exilic prophet of the Persian period. He prophesies over four months during the 2nd year of Darius in 520 BC. Along with Zechariah he exhorts the returned exiles to rebuild the temple (see Ezra 5:1; 6:14).
Literary Structure and Content
I. Rebuild the temple (1:1—2:9).
Note the full dating: In the second year of Darius the king, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Haggai . . . (1:1)
A. Exhortation – Consider your ways: God exhorts the people and their leaders to prioritize the rebuilding of
the temple and they respond and take up the work (1:2-15).
1. God exhorts the people to prioritize the rebuilding of the temple (1:2-11).
a. God exhorts the people to consider their priority (1:2-6).
1) God states that this people keep giving the excuse that it is not yet the time to rebuild the temple (1:2).
2) God questions whether it is time for them to dwell in their paneled houses while the temple lays
3) God exhorts the people: “Consider your ways!” (1:5)
4) God explains that they are suffering physical need because of their wrong priority (1:6).
b. God exhorts the people to rebuild the temple for which failure He has been disciplining them (1:7-11).
1) God exhorts the people: “Consider your ways!” (1:7).
2) God instructs the people to gather material and build the temple that He might be pleased with it and
be glorified (1:8).
3) God explains that they are experiencing material loss and drought because they have not rebuilt the
2. Zerubbabel, Joshua and the people respond and take up the work (1:12-15).
a. Zerubbabel, Joshua and the remnant of the people obey God (1:12a).
b. The people show reverence for God (1:12b).
c. God declares through Haggai to the people: “I am with you” (1:13).
d. God stirs up their spirit of Zerrubabel, Joshua and the remnant of the people and they begin the
work on the temple on the 24th day of the 6th month – 24 days after God’s initial exhortation to
B. Encouragement – Speak to Zerubbabel: God encourages the leaders and the people by abiding with them
and promising that the latter glory of the temple in the coming Messianic kingdom will be greater than the
former temple built by Solomon (2:1-9).
Note the partial dating: On the twenty-first of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet . . . (2:1)
1. God sympathizes with Zerubbabel, Joshua and the remnant of the people that their present work seems
small and encourages them to “take courage . . . and work; for I am with you” (2:2-4).
a. God sympathizes with Zerubbabel, Joshua and the remnant of the people that the present work seems
like nothing in comparison to the temple Solomon had built (2:2-3).
b. God encourages Zerubbabel, Joshua and the people of the land to “take courage . . . and work; for I am
with you” (2:4).
c. God reminds them of the promise he made at the exodus from Egypt that the Divine Spirit would abide
in their midst and therefore they are not to fear (2:5).
2. God reveals that “once more in a little while” He is going to “shake the heavens and the earth” and all
the nations and make the latter glory of the temple greater than the former and give peace (2:6-9).
a. God reveals that “once more in a little while” He is going to shake all creation and all the nations and fill
the temple with the wealth of all nations (2:6-7).
b. God declares “The silver is Mine and the gold is mine” (2:8).
c. God declares that the latter glory of the temple will be greater than the former and in that place He will
give peace (2:9).
II. God disciplines disobedience and blesses obedience (2:10—2:23).
Note the full dating: On the twenty-fourth of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Haggai the prophet . . . (2:10)
A. Exhortation – Do consider: God explains the pervasive nature of impurity and promises to bless the people
with a good harvest as they go forward in obedience (2:11-19).
It has now been three months since the work on the temple began. The people are wondering why they are not yet experiencing blessing.
1. God gives an illustration of the pervasive nature of impurity (2:11-14).
a. God instructs Haggai to ask the priests for a ruling (2:11).
b. If something holy touches something not holy will it become holy? No! Holiness is not contagious (2:12).
c. If something unclean touches something clean will it become unclean? Yes! Uncleanness is
d. The same thing applies to the people and their work – they were unclean and everything they
touched became unclean (2:14).
2. God declares that the people will live with the consequences of their past failure to build the temple until
an agricultural cycle passes and then He will bless them (2:15-19).
a. Do consider from this day onward: God reminds the people they were suffering lack because they had
failed to follow his command to rebuild the temple (2:15-17).
The people had failed to obey God and rebuild the temple. God disciplined them with bad harvests and cursed every work of their hand.
b. Do consider from this day onward: God tells the people that from the 24th day of the 9th month – 3
months after they begun work on the temple – that He would begin to bless them – Yet from this day I
will bless you (2:18-19).
The people had begun the work on the temple. The seed was now in the ground. The people will have to wait for the completion of the growth cycle. God will bless them and give them a good harvest.
B. Encouragement – Speak to Zerubbabel: Through Haggai God assures Zerubbabel that He will have a
prominent place in the coming Messianic kingdom (2:20-23).
Note the partial dating: Then the word of the LORD came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month . . . (2:20)
1. God declares that He is going to “shake the heavens and the earth” and overthrow the kingdoms of
the nations (2:21-22).
2. God declares to Zerubbabel that he will have a prominent place on that day (2:23).
God calls Zerubbabel “My servant”. God declares “I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you.” God had declared concerning his grandfather Coniah, “Even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pull you off” (Jer. 22:24).
Theological Reflection and Application
God’s people sometime fail to prioritize God’s mission for them and focus instead on themselves. God disciplines His people for their self-centeredness and calls them to prioritize His mission. When God’s people once again take up God’s mission, God works with them and blesses them. God will ultimately reward His faithful servants with a prominent role in the coming Messianic kingdom. God’s people are to seek first the kingdom of God trusting Him to meet their present needs as they look forward to their reward in the coming Messianic kingdom (see Matt. 6:24-33).
Zerubbabel is the governor of Judea under Persian rule. He is also heir to David’s throne. God promises in the future to overthrow the nations of the earth and make Zerubbabel his signet ring. This points forward to the universal rule of the Messiah, David’s greater son (see Hebrews 12:25-29). He will establish the kingdom and restore the temple’s glory.