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Haggai 1:15b-2:9

Haggai is one of the more precise texts of the Hebrew Bible when it comes to specifics about historical time. Haggai 1:15 and 2:1 clearly detail that this message is written to a group of persons who have known the experience of Babylonian exile and now are back in Jerusalem and its environs at a time when life was emerging in new ways. In some ways, those in Judea and Jerusalem were starting fresh and new. In other ways they were reconstituting forms of life that had been destroyed in the exile.

Of many issues Haggai’s audience was seeking to discern would have included “How much do we live like our ancestors? What new paths of life are available to us?” And certainly they would have looked to the future and wondered, “Can we do this? Is God with us?”

Into the midst of new realities in Jerusalem, we hear the the word of the LORD that comes to Haggai and instructs that he speak to the governor and the high priest and the people. In a new age and new era, two primary voices emerge that have been present in Israel’s past, the voice of the LORD and the voice of the LORD’s prophet. God and God’s perspective from the past still address leaders in this new era, even as God has spoken to Judah’s ancestors in the past.

The LORD and the prophets speak to governors, priest, and people. As has been true in the past, God’s directing word will be for persons of the highest rank to the common person.

Haggai addresses two types of leader, one in the office of civil affairs and one in the office of religious affairs. The fact that persons exist in both offices suggest that both national and religious aspects of life are underway. The people have “kingdom” elements and the “priestly” elements that have re-emerged (consistent with the call to be Priestly Kingdom and Holy Nation Exodus 19:1-6). At the same time, there is no new office of King that has (yet) emerged. Additionally, Haggai is called to speak to the people addressed here as the “remnant” (v.2). The very nature of the term “remnant” is worthy of study, though here we will suggest that it entails the “remainder” of a particular group of people who remain after some conquest (exile). As a remnant, these people constitute both the remembrance of the defeated history (the past) and the possibility for new growth (the future) to emerge from their ranks.