The One Year Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), September 11
More than eighteen years have passed since Zerubbabel had led the first wave of returnees to Jerusalem. They have built an altar to the Lord and have begun rebuilding the temple. After some months of opposition, they cease building the temple and concentrate on building their own houses and establishing their lives. Sixteen or so years later, the prophet Haggai enters the picture and addresses the incomplete temple—and it isn’t pretty!
Haggai challenges the Jews to connect the dots between their meager existence and and the incomplete temple:
- “Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:5-6). Haggai challenges the Jews to acknowledge the meagerness of their livelihood. After years of hard work, they are no better off than they were when they first arrived in the land.
- “Consider your ways!” (1:7), he instructs, commanding the Jews to finish building the temple. He connects their continued impoverished condition to wrong priorities, “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.” “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands” (1:9-11). Haggai challenges the Jews to connect their lack of prosperity to the unfinished temple.
- After promising the Jews that “the glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former . . . . And in this place I will give peace” (2:9), Haggai again urges, “And now, carefully consider from this day forward . . .” (2:15). He connects the insufficient wine vats, blight, mildew, and hail to the Jews’ incomplete turning to the LORD: “Yet you did not turn to Me” (2:17).
- “Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid—consider it” (2:18). Haggai uses this command to highlight the lack of harvest that has occurred since the Jews discontinued building the temple years earlier.
God desires to bless His people, but that blessing is directly connected to the rebuilt temple. Man’s long-term goals rarely include God, while God’s long-term goals always include man.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Haggai 2; Zechariah 1:1-5:11; Ezra 5:2):
How will the second temple differ from Solomon’s temple?
God sends Zechariah to urge the completion of the second temple and Jerusalem. What does the LORD promise regarding Jerusalem and her temple?
Zechariah’s experience is similar to that of Ezekiel, in that God speaks to both of them through visions that depend on God’s interpretation. What do the flying scroll and woman in a basket symbolize?