Haggai, because of its detail can almost be read as a diary.
ELUL 1, 4280* (Aug. 29, 520 BCE) 1:1-15
* The actual Hebraic date is unclear, this is an estimated calculation.
1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying,
King Darius King of Persia and inheritor of the exiles of Judah when he conquered Babylon had a much different M.O. of conquering nations. Where other nations made their defeated nation prisoners and slaves, Persia would sort of adopt them as Persians, make their nation a vassal nation, but allow them to maintain leadership of their nation and have somewhat of an autonomy, but be answerable to the Persian King.
Persia would educate the nations they conquered and gave them positions in government and or of some standing of official authority so those they conquered would be won over with privileges and kindness. Sort of like a store that is under new management and everybody keeps their jobs.
Darius King of Persia, who according to the Midrash was the son of Xerxes (Ahasvarosh) and Esther (Hadassah), was very kind to the Jewish people and he allowed 50,000 exiled Jews under the command of Zerubbabel who held the title “governor” and Yehoshuah (Joshua) the High Priest. Those events are also recorded in the book of Ezra 1”2-4; 2:64-65; 3:2; 5:1.
After the 2nd year of their return, only the foundation had been laid (see also Ezra 3:8-10) because of harassment and threats by the Samaritans (Ezra 4:1- 5:24). This caused the moral to be at an all-time low and discouragement and fear were so profound that the construction stopped all together for 16 years! Thus the reason for the pep-talk from Haggai and Zechariah. Granted, another reason was to overcome psychological discouragement in that most of the returnees aw the magnificence of Solomon’s Temple and knew they couldn’t duplicate or surpass that. But we must trust and believe if God called us we can do greater things (John 14:12).
Remember that when setting out to ANYTHING for ADONAI satan 9 times out of 10, will use discouragement usually from family and friend, their half-bred Samaritan relatives were the culprits here. Secondly, discord and dissatisfaction within the ranks usually follows or is simultaneously used with discouragement from the outside. This first of four stirring messages from Haggai was aimed to stir up and set a fire underneath Zerubbabel and Joshua the High Priest because so goes the leadership; so goes the people. We’ve seen it over and over with the Kings in I, II Samuel, to I, II Kings, to I, II Chronicles: Good King = Good People, Wicked King = Wicked People.
2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD's house should be built.
The People mistook satanic opposition as God’s sovereignty to cease working on the Temple, they needed to be reminded and told otherwise. This verse addressed the leaders and verse three addresses the people.
3 Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,
Some feel that the wording of such verses as “and the word of the LORD came to me means that ADONAI took the pre-incarnate human form of Messiah Yeshua (for He is the Word according to John 1) and delivered the message to His prophet either in person or in a vision or dream.
4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?
Ah, our God is a “Jewish God.” Here is a justifiable example of the famous “guilt trip” often employed by Jewish mothers. Here Haggai tells the exiles that they returned for the purpose of rebuilding the Temple and Jerusalem itself and yet they became self-absorbed and to build themselves mini-Temple; houses lined with cedar. The Temple used to be lined with cedar. Haggai tells the people they must get their priorities straight; God’s work comes first.
Even Messiah Yeshua put great importance on and was zealous for the Temple and its place in Israel.
John 2:17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
John 4:24 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
John 9:4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
Matt. 21:12-13 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
If Messiah was to bring an end to the Temple and sacrifices as most Christians proclaim, then why such a zeal for it? For the simple fact that He DID NOT come to do away with the Temple or its operation and purpose.
Matt. 5:17-20 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach 9 men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
He came to give it greater emphasis and meaning. He came to give and bring it into its full and complete meaning and understanding.
In the Messianic and Christian arena’s the issue of Salvation and Levitical animal Sacrifice has caused charged heated debates and cause congregational and denominational splits. How were the “Old Testament Saints” saved? Will there be animal sacrifice during then Third Temple when Messiah reigns, if so why? Wouldn’t animal sacrifice slap Yeshua and his sacrificial atoning work on the cross in the face? And many questions of the like, circle submerge and emerge continuously, as a Netzari Jew let me put this weary animal to rest. If you don’t like the answer, take it up with HaShem and His Word. If it blows down your little theological house of cards the maybe you should question the materials you have used, or the foundation it has been founded upon; GOD’s Word, or tradition and doctrines of men?
Let me first tackle the issue of salvation. It is the misconception of many that the “Old Testament Saints” were saved by works, keeping the Torah (law), in combination with the Levitical animal sacrifices, and “New Testament Saints” are saved by “Grace” and Yeshua’s death on the cross. How fair is that!? Christians say there is only one way of salvation, this view would contradict that. This is purely a Christian false doctrine; nothing could be further from the truth.
Then how were the Believers before the death and resurrection of Yeshua, saved!?
The saints in the Tanak were saved the same way as the saints in the Renewed Covenant. The difference is perspective. Those in the Tanak looked forward to, and believed in the Messiah and His atoning work that was coming. The Renewed Covenant saints (us) look back and believe in the Messiah and His atoning work that already came, and is coming again! The sacrifices of the Tabernacle and Temple era, before Yeshua came never atoned for, or removed sin. In the Renewed Covenant book of Hebrews 10:4 “It is NOT possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away 10 sins.” it just rolled it back like a credit card debt until Messiah came to pay it in full, atoning for them all past, present, and future (Isa.53:6; IPt.2:24; IJn.2:2; Heb.1:3; 5-10). Yeshua worked within the framework of Torah, and the sacrificial system set up therein.
Then what is the purpose of the animal sacrifices? Two predominant reasons:
1. It was to be a physical object lesson that pointed to the coming Messiah and what He would do. It acted as a credit card that covered, did not take away, and rolled back the sin debt until someone, Messiah, could come along and pay it. In the time of the Third Temple the sacrifices will be a reminder of the Messiah who came and what He did (Is. 56, 66; Zech. 14:16-21). The sacrifices before Yeshua came only pointed to the Messiah which was to come, and the sacrifices after Yeshua, and that will take place in the Millennial Reign, point back to Messiah’s atoning work.
2. It provided and will provide food, materials and income for the Priests and their families (Leviticus 5-10).
Salvation is a gift from GOD to all who will accept Yeshua the Messiah, the Living Torah, confesses, repents, and turns away from their sins. This is Faith Righteousness. This will result in becoming spiritually alive and indwelt with the Ruach Ha Kodesh of GOD. This in turn will cause one to desire to love, obey, and please GOD. One shows this by keeping the Written Torah. This is Works Righteousness. In other words, one will walk in the footsteps of Yeshua Moshieynu (our Messiah) by walking in the Torah. Before Messiah: Looking Ahead After Messiah: Looking Back, Salvation comes by grace through faith alone. Salvation is not earned by Torah observance. If we love Him we WILL keep His Commandments (Torah).
A person who does this will spend eternity with Him, in Heaven if one dies prior to the final resurrection, or on the New Earth in the World to Come.