Haggai 1 & Ezra 4:24-5:1
Haggai, in chapter 1, settles a question that I’ve been mulling over for a few days: How God-sanctioned is this whole resettlement and rebuilding effort?
I mean, I understand that God said He would restore the people to their land, and He even gave the 70-year timeframe for this. But something has always felt forced about this whole movement, like the Jews wanted these things to happen so badly that they were willing to force the issue and do it their own way and on their own time. This suspicion is consistent with the fact that neither the resettlement nor the rebuilding of the temple ends up lasting all that long, thanks to the Romans. It just seemed that God’s promises had been on a much longer time horizon, and that Zerubbabel and friends got impatient and ended up with a poor man’s version of God’s promised result.
Well, Haggai is here to tell me that I’m wrong. So there. It’s clear in this chapter that God is behind the rebuilding, demanding that it be done. So unless this is a canonical issue where Haggai either misrepresents or misunderstands God’s word,* then it appears that my suspicions are unfounded and that the restoration and rebuilding under Cyrus/Darius is God-ordained.
I liked the idea repeated in this chapter that efforts of the returnees to provide for their security and economic needs have been fruitless because they have not first sought to do right by God and build His temple first. It seems born of the same truth as Matthew 6:33, and the popular song:
Seek ye first the kingdom of God
and his righteousness,
and all these things shall be added unto you.
* A possibility I find extremely unlikely, may I note.