I have to admit, this is a book that hits home for me. I’ll note why, but first an introduction of this prophet.
This is the first prophecy that came to the Jewish people who had went returned from the captivity to Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It was from God through Haggai – “haggai” meaning “festive” or “feast”. Noting that book's theme is building the house of the Lord, I'd associate the prophet's name with the Feast of Tabernacles (when God's house was built among and moved with Israel). Haggai is mentioned in Ezra 5, along with Zechariah. This is a very short book – only 2 chapters long.
What hits home for me is that this first chapter is all about God chastising “the People” (His People) for working for and building their own houses, but neglecting to build His house. The foundation for the second temple had been laid, but the temple itself had not yet been built—and God was looking for the people to rebuild it. The lesson goes on to say that when you are working a ton in your life, and it feels like you are actually producing very little, it’s time to take stock of where your efforts are going. He allows those holes to be in your bucket to get your attention, and to guide you into refocusing your efforts on more worthy endeavours, more worthy pursuits. This lesson has very strong connections to Christ’s teaching for me:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust do corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust do corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve [both] God and [the pursuit of material wealth].
Therefore I say to you, take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than clothing? Behold the fowls of the air: for they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why do you take thought for clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they do not toil, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
Therefore do not take thought, saying, “What shall we eat?” or, “What shall we drink?” or, “With what shall we be clothed?” (For after all these things do the nonbelievers seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
In fact, this whole first chapter brings up numerous New Testament lessons in my mind, as I don’t believe it was speaking of rebuilding the physical temple, in a grander sense of what is being said. When David originally had it in his mind to build the first temple, God told him that He didn’t need a physical house, and put David a bit in his place for it:
And it came to pass, when the king [David] sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest roundabout from all his enemies; that the king said unto Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within curtains [of the Tabernacle]. And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart; for the LORD is with you.”
And it came to pass that night, that the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying, “Go and tell My servant David, ‘This says the LORD, ‘Shall you build Me a house for Me to dwell in? Whereas I have not dwelt in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle. In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribes of Israel, whom I commanded to feed My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’’’
Now, therefore, so shall you say to My servant David, ‘This says the LORD of hosts, ‘I took you from the sheep-cot, from following the sheep, to be ruler over My people, over Israel: and I was with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies out of your sight, and have made you a great name, like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth. Moreover I will appoint a place for My people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and not move anymore; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them anymore, as previously, and as since the time that I commanded judges to be over My people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all thine enemies.’’
Also the LORD tells you [David] that He will make you a house. ‘And when your days be fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, which shall proceed out of your body, and I will establish His kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom for ever. I will be His Father, and He shall be My Son. If He commit iniquity, I will chasten Him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: but My mercy shall not depart away from Him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you: your throne shall be established for ever.’”
~2 Samuel 7:1-16
That house that God told David He would build is Christ, the offspring of David. And this prophecy that Haggai is giving is noted to be to Zerubbabel— also the offspring of David, and an ancestor of Christ, both legally through Joseph (Matthew 1:12), and biologically through Mary (Luke 3:27). But, as Christ taught above, the instructions are to build Him a house, not a physical house, but a spiritual house, and this is where the connections to other New Testament teachings come in full force:
You also, as lively stones, are built up as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Which is why it is also contained in the scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone [a foundation], elect, precious: and he who believes in Him shall not be confounded.
~1 Peter 2:5-6
[Christ is that foundation]
Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in Whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto a holy Temple in the Lord: in Whom you also are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.
For we are labourers together with God: you are God's husbandry [agriculture], you are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds thereon. But let every man take heed how he builds thereupon. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if anyone builds upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; everyone's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try everyone's work of what sort it is. If anyone's work abide that he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If anyone's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
~1 Corinthians 3:9-16
I emphasized "and the prophets" above because I am staunchly against the teaching that "the prophets were only preaching to Israel before Christ came" that I see so many people (even pastors that I know) regurgitate. So many times in these minor prophets, we've covered how those lessons were directly taught by Christ and other New Testament authors. Look above - the physical example of building God's house is clearly covered in the NT as to what it means in the spiritual sense. I encourage you to look at OT prophecies and lessons as a model -- as a physical model -- for all spiritual lessons. Christ taught that way. And so did Paul:
Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
~1 Corinthians 10:11
Now of the things that we have spoken this is the [conclusion]: we have such a High Priest, Who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a Minister of the [heavenly] sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: which is why it is of necessity that this Man have somewhat also to offer. For if He were on earth, He should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, "'See', said He, 'that you make all things according to the pattern showed to you in the mount. But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises [and the true object itself, instead of the shadow of the object].
The impact to me from this first chapter of Haggai is: how am I building up the church with the talents I’ve been given? And that’s a very important question in my life right now. May God bless your efforts to build His house, and my efforts also.