The prophecies of Haggai (520-504 BC) cover a period of four months, against the background of Ezra 5 and 6. The prophets Malachi, Zechariah, and Haggai are known as "post exilic" prophets because they prophesied to the returned remnant after the Babylonian captivity had ended. Haggai and Zephaniah were contemporaries and Malachi nearly one hundred years later. Zechariah's prophecy begins midway between Haggai's second and third messages.
The theme of Haggai is the rebuilding of the temple, the work having previously ceased. Fourteen years had passed since Zerubabbel had returned. The temple was not finished. On the contrary, its foundation had overgrown with weeds. The people had busied themselves with their own house building. Haggai insisted that they put first things first.
With the throne of David now gone it was necessary for the nation to realize its true center of activity in the temple. Haggai mentions three temples: Solomon's (2:3), Zerubabbel's (2:3-5), and the Messiah's (2:6-9). The people had the wrong attitude toward prophecy and this being at the core of their inactivity. Their attitude toward the work of God has its counterpart in the church today: it should not be an excuse for inaction but an effort to encourage to holy, consecrated living.
The people were stirred up by Haggai's message, and within three weeks work resumed on the temple building. The completion of the temple was not looked upon with overflowing joy by all the people, for some of the older ones lamented the fact that it was far inferior to the first temple (See Ezra 3:12).
The third message of Haggai was to the priests and called for renewed consecration. The blessing of God was waiting for them. This blessing had been long awaited and long withheld. God is always more willing to bless than we are to receive His blessing.
Haggai's final message was symbolic in character. Looking far ahead in time, he completed his book by pointing to the coming "Golden Age" - the age of the Messiah.
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