Lessing, R. Reed & Andrew E. Steinmann. Prepare the Way of the Lord: An Introduction to the Old Testament. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014. Chapter 37, “Haggai” pp. 533-540.
The prophet Haggai is a vague figure. Lessing is unsure even if he had been taken into exile and returned. His prophetic work, however, is focused on Jerusalem and is very concerned with the temple (Lessing 2014, 533). The prophecies, written in the third person, have suggested that one of Haggai’s followers actually wrote the book. However, Lessing notes that third person prophecy is common. It is not unreasonable to assume Haggai would have written this way (Lessing 2014, 534).
The text of Haggai is full of chronological markers, all within a span of four months. The book is in prose (Lessing 2014, 534). The prophecies urge reconstruction of God’s temple. This is consistent with the promise of reconciliation. God’s people and their temple are restored (Lessing 2014, 534). Lessing notes that this is technically not a return from captivity. The people who moved to Judah were born in exile. Additionally, most of the Judahites were never deported (Lessing 2014, 535). The resettlement looks more like a number of small waves of immigration. The reconstruction of the temple had been permitted some years earlier but was delayed. Haggai spurs the plan into action (Lessing 2014, 536).
Important themes include Yahweh as the ruler of armies (Lessing 2014, 536). He stands above all the force of the Persians. Christ is seen in the one who is the new temple, full of glory (Lessing 2014, 537). We see the idea of sin in the people’s self-serving priorities (Lessing 2014, 538). They are overly concerned with their own wealth and possessions rather than God. The message of Haggai calls the people to repentance which works God’s grace.