Summary: We must put first things first.

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[Fill a large glass jar with fist-sized rocks] Is this jar full? [Dump in a jar of small rocks] Is the jar full now? [Dump in a jar of sand] Is the jar full now? [Dump in a jar of water] What’s the point? The big rocks represent God’s priorities for our lives. If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you may never get them in at all.

Today we are starting a new four-part series on the book of Haggai. The book of Haggai challenges us to put first things first.

[Read Haggai 1]

Let’s begin with an introduction to the book.

• Author: HAGGAI

(1) Haggai was a prophet of God.

“The word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai” (1:1). A prophet was both a foreteller and a forthteller.

(2) Haggai ministered during the post-exilic era.

“Post-exilic” refers to the time after the Babylonian captivity when the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland. There are three postexilic books of prophecy: Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi and three postexilic books of history: Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.

Ezra mentions Haggai twice:

“Now Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet, a descendant of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and Jeshua son of Jozadak set to work to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem. And the prophets of God were with them, helping them” (Ezra 5:1-2).

“So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia” (Ezra 6:14).

(3) Haggai may have been in his seventies during his ministry.

“Who of you is left how saw this house in its former glory?” (2:3). Solomon’s temple had been destroyed 66 years earlier. Haggai may have been one of the older exiles who had seen the former temple.

• Date: 520 B.C.

Haggai’s messages are precisely dated. They were given during a four-month period in 520 B.C., “the second year of King Darius” (1:1).

1:1-11 6th month, 1st day: August 29, 520 B.C.

1:12-15 6th month, 24th day: September 21, 520

2:1-9 7th month, 21st day: October 17, 520

2:10-23 9th month, 24th day: December 18, 520

On August 29, 520 B.C., God spoke for the first time in the post-exilic era.

• Recipients: The EXILED JEWS who had returned to their homeland to rebuild the temple

In 538 B.C., Cyrus king of Persia (the conqueror of Babylon), issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:2-4; 6:3-5). The temple had been destroyed by the Babylonians. Led by Zerubbabel, about 50,000 Jews journeyed home and began work on the temple. About two years later, they completed the foundation (Ezra 3:8-11).

• Occasion: OPPOSITION and APATHY had brought the work to a standstill (Ezra 3:1-24)

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