Things hadn't gone well for the Jews who had returned from the Babylonian exile and had begun rebuilding the Temple. They began to wonder if God was no longer with them, but Haggai let's them know the real reasons why rebuilding the Temple had been such a struggle.
This is part of a series on mirror-reading the books of the Bible. You can view all posts in the series here. They are only cursory mirror-readings and, although I give evidence for their validity, further research is desired for support.
Mirror-Reading The Book Of Haggai Gives Us A Greater Understanding
The Temple stood partially built, but enthusiasm began to wane as obstacles arose. Perhaps God was no longer with them. They had, after all, broken His covenant before the exile, and a new covenant had not been formed. Perhaps He was no longer their God. If He was still their God, wouldn't He make the new Temple more glorious than the 1st? It didn't appear that way. Also, when they had returned to the land to rebuild the Temple, a famine had come upon them. Surely that was not a good sign. Maybe they should worship some of the pagan fertility gods.
Even if they did rebuild the Temple, it would be vulnerable to attack, since the walls of Jerusalem had yet to be rebuilt. No sense filling it with gold and silver if it would just get looted by surrounding enemies. Could they really trust a God that wasn't able to defeat the Babylonian army anyway? Perhaps He wasn't the strong war God that they were looking for.
3 Ways That Haggai Showed How God Was Still with Them
Haggai responds to all of the criticisms that were being leveled against God and His Temple. First, he reassures them that God was still there God. His covenant with them still stood even though they had broken it.
Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord's message, “I am with you, declares the Lord.”
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts,
according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.
Second, Haggai let's them know the real reason why there had been a famine. It was not because they had moved back into the land, but that they had delayed rebuilding the Temple.
You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce.
Haggai points out that the famine ended as soon as they started to rebuild it.
Haggai 2:19 (see also 2:15 and 2:18)
Is the seed yet in the barn? Indeed, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have yielded nothing. But from this day on I will bless you.”
Finally Haggai addresses the issue of whether God was strong when it came to military matters:
and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders. And the horses and their riders shall go down, every one by the sword of his brother.
Haggai also refers to God as "Lord of hosts" (see 1:9, 2:4, 2:8, 2:9, 2:11, and 2:18) which is another way of saying "Lord of armies". There would also be no need to fear any looting of the gold and silver that might be in the Temple as God lays claim to it.
The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts.
He also reassured them that He was with them by saying that the new Temple would be glorious, even more so than the first one:
The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’”
What Do You Think?
What do you think of this mirror-reading of Haggai? Was Haggai trying to reassure the Jews in this way? What other situations do you think Haggai was responding to?