This short book may be combined with Zephaniah for a one-hour study session.
Preparation Prior to the study session, participants should read the entire book. Orientation Haggai is book #37 of 39 in the Old Testament, and the 10th book of the Minor Prophets. For more information see the Bible Overview page.
Synopsis When the remnant of the Jewish people return from Babylon, they begin to rebuild the temple. They soon lose interest and due to local opposition, work stops, and it lies partially rebuilt and neglected, as they build grand homes for themselves (1:4). Why? They claim the time for rebuilding it has not come (1:2). God withdraws his blessings and the people sink into bad economic times.
Halfway through the construction, prophets Haggai and Zechariah arrive on the scene (Ezra 5:1). God speaks through Haggai, the governor Zerubbabel, and the high priest Joshua (not the same Joshua who lead the Israelites into the promised land). The people listen, and 23 days later construction resumes (1:14). Soon the people lose enthusiasm again, depressed by the realization the temple is smaller and more modest than Solomon's original temple - remembered by some of the older folks (2:3).
The book ends suddenly. The temple rebuild is completed four years later, but perhaps Haggai did not live to see it.
Discussion points Consider the criticism of the project in 2:3, that the rebuild is not as good as the temple it replaced. Also see Ezra 3:12, in which the older folks complain and yearn for the good old days instead. Are such criticisms worthwhile? Have we had this attitude towards downsized facilities and programs? What techniques would help acknowledge these feelings and allow projects to move forward?
Do church or personal projects ever languish half-completed? What are the causes of loss of enthusiasm? Do projects ever get a renewal? Can the arrival of fresh talent spark renewal?
Consider the discussion of defilement by contact in 2: 10-14. What is the point of this discussion? That things can only be made worse, and not better? Is this a discussion of the concept of entropy - that without constant maintenance, all things tend to deteriorate over time?
Connections The rebuilding of the temple is also described in great detail in Ezra 3: 7-13.
For source citations see the home page. Revised April 9 2014
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