Bible Teaching Notes
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Omar C. Garcia

Haggai

Notes by Jerry Perrill, Missionary to Laos and Thailand (Retired)

 
The Prophecies of Haggai
Mark Dever, in his book, The Message of the Old Testament, gives an overview and introduction to each of the 39 books of the OT. He entitled his sermon on this book “Are Your Investments Sound?” Appropriate! Just in passing, in my work in Thailand over the years, I was sad to learn that the Thai language had no word for commitment. Small wonder that the Thai people had such a difficult time being committed to anything – job, marriage, family, core virtues, etc., etc. Maybe we should have preached Haggai more passionately to them. It seemed to be easy to tell them the good news of salvation in Jesus, but very, very difficult to see long term faithfulness and commitment. Anyway, our lesson from this book can reinforce the truths and the spirit of genuine commitment within a Christian world-view.
 
Haggai preached for barely 3 months about 16 years after the people returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity. He and Zechariah’s presence are noted as motivators behind getting back to building the temple in Ezra 5:1, 2 and 6:14. Haggai’s ministry, as far as the Bible text has it, lasted only about 4 months. His six messages can be pinpointed rather accurately:
 
(I & II)  August 29, 520 B.C.
(III)     September 21, 520 B.C.
(IV)   October 17, 520 B.C.
(V & VI) December 18, 520 B.C.
 
Outline and Analysis of the book (taken from The Minor Prophets vol. 3, “Haggai” by Alec Motyer)
 
Outline
 
            I. Oracle to Zerubbabel and Joshua: The Lord’s House unbuilt (1:1-2)
 
            II.  Oracle to the People: The neglected House the cause of bane (1:3-11)
 
            III. Oracle to the Workers: The Lord’s presence in the present (1:12-15a)
 
            IV. Oracle to Leaders and People: The Lord’s presence for the future (1:15b-2:9)
 
            V.  Oracle to Priests and People: The restored House the cause of blessing (2:10-19)
 
            VI. Oracle to Zerubbabel: David’s House to be built (2:20-23)
 
Motyer bases these six oracles on the introductory phrase, The word of the Lord came . . . (the exact phrase does not appear in III above). It is of note that the divine Name Yahweh (LORD in KJV, NIV and NASB) the reminder that God, the covenant God, appears around 35 times in 38 verses.
 
J. Alec Motyer is one of my favorite writers. I love his commentaries on Isaiah and Amos. This one in this set is also a delight. He has taught me a new way of seeing the text in all its fullness and in a literary form that brings understanding just in looking carefully at the way he analyzes it. It does not force the text, but tries to see how the parts fit together. I have reproduced this analysis and with a little time you will see what he is driving at. I think it is what Haggai himself was driving at.
 
This kind of ‘outline’ demands that we look at the first and last items. For example it begins
 
(A, a)with a word to King Zerubbabel               and ends (A’ a’) with a word to him.

In (A) we see the negative consequences         in (A’) the blessed consequences of
of unbuilt house                                             the restored house;

in (A) we read ‘take it to heart’ twice;          in (A’) the phrase appears twice

Does this make sense? I’m still trying to learn to study this way. Calls for concentration and a call to study the text carefully!
 
A          a pair of oracles on the same date (1:1, 3): the negative consequence of the unbuilt house
            (1:1-11)
 
            a          Zerubbabel and Joshua addressed: popular refusal to build the house (1:1-2)
 
                        b          the people addressed: the neglected house the cause of bane (1:3-11)
 
                                    * a double call to “take it to heart” (1:5, 7)
 
  B        “I am with you” (1:13) the Lord’s presence energizing the present work (1:12-15a)
 
·         The leaders respond in obedience (1:12) rarely do we see this in these books
·         The word of divine assurance (1:13)
·         Making a start (1:14-15a) after 16 years of lethargy and disinterest
 
  B’       “I am with you (2:4): the Lord’s presence guaranteeing coming glory (1:15b-2:9)
 
·         Former glory (1:15b-2:3)
·         The word of divine assurance (2:4-5)
·         The coming glory (2:6-9)
 
A’         a pair of oracles on the same date (2:10, 20): the blessed consequences of the restored house (2:10-23)
 
                        b’         the people addressed: the restored house the cause of blessing (2:10-19)
 
                                    * a double call to “take it to heart” (2:15, 18)
 
            a’         Zerubbabel addressed: the Lord will restore David’s house (2:20-23)
 
 
Again, look at A and A’; then B and B’; a and a’; b and b’. How amazing and intricately put together are these passages. I have studied the flood narrative in Genesis 6-9 and found that just as amazing. What a delightful way to look at Scripture. Hope it doesn’t give you to big of a headache.  This kind of analysis is called an A-B-B-A formation.
 
Folks were taking care of their houses before taking care of God’s house. “Yesterday’s luxury had become today’s necessity.” Boy, haven’t we heard that before?! What the prophet exposes here is not hardship but nonfulfillment. They had seed to sow, food to eat, wine to drink, clothes to wear, gainful employment – but no true satisfaction. Their problem was not lack of goods but lack of good. Their priorities were out of whack. Emphasis was on the material, not spiritual. Selfishness increasingly ruled their lives. Sounds like America in the 21st Century!

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