LESSON 38 THE BOOKS OF HAGGAI, ZECHARIAH AND MALACHI
These three prophets ministered after the restoration of Israel from Babylonian captivity. Israel returned to a city and temple that was almost barren and on the brink of total destruction. The motivation to rebuild came from promise and prophecy within their faith. They first rebuilt the alter of Solomon and began laying the foundation of the temple as the old men wept aloud and the young men shouted for joy. The sounds of shouting and weeping were heard from afar off. Trouble came when the Samaritans from the north wanted to become Jews to help in building the Temple. Israel's justifiable refusal of their offer created hostel enemies in this building project and they succeeded in stopping this work. Sixteen years passed, and nothing more was done toward the rebuilding of that sacred structure. However, they made time to organize the community and to build themselves beautiful homes. They took their ease and became content with an incomplete project. Haggai is the first to come on the scene to arouse the people to rebuild the Temple. The problem facing Haggai was the attitude of the people toward this work. They had done without the temple for 70 years during the Babylonian captivity, and another 15 years after their return.
SURVEY OF HAGGAI
The Temple of God - Chapter 1
The Blessings of God - Chapter 2
THE TEMPLE OF GOD
The first verse of Haggai gives the exact date: Notice, it is the first day of the month when they were celebrating the Feast of the New moon and he is speaking to specifically to the leaders, Zerubbabel and Joshua. He proceeds to reply to the peoples excuses.
The great dissatisfaction was the results of their procrastination.
In my estimation, the most encouraging word is found in verse 13. The Lord stirred up the spirit of the leaders and the spirit of the remnant of the people: and they came and did the work.
THE BLESSINGS OF GOD
Haggai conveys the great promise of Glory, motivated and encouraged the work.
2:9________________________________________________________________________________________The need of this glory and the righteousness of God is presented in the comparison between good and evil. In verses 10-14 the law clearly teaches that evil is more infectious than good. It became necessary during this restoration period to reestablish the throne of David through Zerubbabel.
This revives the old hope of the messianic age in Israel and was fulfilled at the coming of Jesus. They caught the vision of the coming messiah and put heart and hand to the work of God.
The Book Of Zechariah
Zechariah was the son of a priest and was a priest himself. His prophecy dates to 512 BC at the same period as Haggai and contains a similar message.
The Eight Visions 1-8
The Two Burdens 9-14
The Eight Visions
These visions center around the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem. His message is simple "Return to me and I will return to you." He warned them of excessive reverence for the past and sought to encourage them to do better than their fathers. As you will notice Angles are the speakers, actors and the interpreters of these visions. These visions helped remove concerns that in the minds of the nation prevented the work.
Visions one and two dealt with the political situation, vision three dealt with the geographical situation and the fourth vision dealt with the moral and religious situation.
There are messianic references that clearly teach the work of Christ and the spiritual temple he would build.
The stone here referred to the hierarchy or theocracy and is paralleled to Daniel's "little stone". The removal of sin in one day refers to the Day of Atonement and the sacrifice of Christ.
The fifth vision addresses their spiritual condition. How would the nation accomplish this task? How could they rebuild the nation and their temple? Would it be done by fighting? Or through a great army?
The sixth vision depicts the removal of the curse. The seventh explains the removal of the sinful nature of the people by divine power. The eighth vision ensures the universal providence of God.
The horses in chapter 6 are described as scouts of the Almighty. They report the political conditions and give an accurate report of the situation whether conducive to rebuild the Temple. They found that all was at rest and quiet. The visions of horses which John saw in the book of Revelation are much like these in Zechariah. 6:12_______________________________________________________________________________________
Compare this with Revelation chapter 6. These horses represent the gospel going forth in its conquests: White - victory of the gospel. Black - the scarcity of the gospel. Red - conflict that arose wherever the gospel went. Pale horse - represents the persecution that followed.
The Two Burdens
The influence of surrounding nations on Israel over the next four hundred years will play an important roll in the coming of Jesus and the effects of the gospel. Alexander the Great and the influence of Greek culture are found in this prophecy along with the Maccabben period. This is part of the fullness of time so often mentioned in the New Testament. 9:10______________________________________________________________________
Note how Paul, a son of Zion, smote the Grecian philosophy.
These last six chapters seem to forecast the history of Israel from the time of the prophet's writing down to the end of the nations' history. In the vision of the shepherd feeding the flock of slaughter, the shepherd was turned away and rejected, ended God's involvement with Israel as a nation. This ushers in the messianic age when they smote their shepherd and put him to death. 13:7________________________________________________________________
The message at Pentecost and those that followed (Acts 2:23 & 3:15) brought them the same awareness that is found in 13:7.
In Chapter 14 we have the prophetic picture of the kingdom of Jesus. All of which is seen through the eyes of Jewish thought.
The Book of Malachi
Sixty years have passed between Zechariah and Malachi and is properly placed as the last book of the Old Testament. The Temple was finished, all the worship and rituals were being performed, however, the spiritual condition of the people was not good. They had perverted the law and misapplied it.
The Survey of Malachi
The Pollution of the Nation 1-3
The Promise to the Nation 3-4
The Pollution of the Nation
The prophet begins with God's never dying love for them before presenting the complaint of God. This remained the privilege of this great nation. The disillusion and doubtfulness of the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah brought cynicism. Their attitude of " is it really worth it, this serving God" surfaced in their religious obligations to God. The gross indifference to God's moral and ceremonial laws cause enormous insensitivity to their spiritual relationship with God. They wondered why God did not bless them. Malachi adopts a different method of prophesying, a pedagogical method. The prophet states some fundamental, theological truths questioned by them, states the voice of the skeptics and doubters, gives the answer and then illustrated with exhortation and threats.
This developed into a motivational teaching used by preachers ever since.
The priests lost all respect for the work of God and had more respect for the Persian governor. 2:14_______________________________________________________________________________________
The people divorced the wives of their youth to marry foreign woman.
The people had robbed God of the tithes and offerings and they arrogantly challenged the character of God. 3:14_______________________________________________________________________________________
For these reasons, God was withholding His blessings.
The Promise To The Nation
The promise of a time when the people of God would be redefined would be fulfilled at the coming of the Lord. The wicked being judged, and those that feared God would be Blessed. The coming of the Lord would refine and clean house of these indiscretions.
Jesus told of this being fulfilled at the coming of John the Baptist and his own personal presence. Malachi ends his prophecy with a bitter curse following a presentation of the coming Christ. Four hundred years of silence would follow until the voice cried in the wilderness, preparing the way of the Lord. Read: Luke 1:76 & Matthew 3:3