- Locate the passage
This is Haggai’s third message. It is delivered on December 18, 520 BC, three months after the work on the temple had begun.
Prophetic oracle of blessing introduced by narrative prose
- Determine the structure of the passage
(v. 10) Narrative setting and introduction
(v. 11-14) God’s object lesson communicated by Q & A
(v. 11-12) Question and Answer #1
(v. 13) Question and Answer #2
(v. 14) God’s Lesson Revealed
(v. 15-19) God’s promise of blessing
(v. 15-17) Remember the curse of disobedience
(v. 18-19) Anticipate the blessing of obedience
- Exegete the passage
At first glance this third message of Haggai seems enigmatic. What exactly is God doing and saying here? One of the keys that unlocks the meaning of this passage is to realize what marks this day—the foundation of the temple has been completed (v. 18). This is a serious milestone in the rebuilding effort, and it is in light of this milestone that God addresses His people. In fact, it is as if God wants to seize this milestone as a teachable moment for His people.
God’s pedagogical method here is a set of two of questions and answers. God’s point is that holiness is not contagious, but unholiness is! The ruined temple representing the people’s misplaced priorities was like a dead corpse in their midst infecting every part of their lives.
Then in (v. 15-17) God reminds the people again that it was He who struck them with drought, crop failure, and inflation due to their disobedience. Oh, but look out! The people have turned to the Lord and obeyed. The temple foundation is now rebuilt and what does God ask? He asks a very rhetorical question, “Is the seed yet in the barn?” The answer is no! The seed has been planted. The seed is now in the ground, but it’s not harvest time yet. The fruitfulness of their labor is still unknown. “But from this day on I will bless you,” says the Lord! This is God way of promising a reversal of the crop failure, drought, and inflation. God is promising a bumper harvest in response to the people’s obedience to prioritize the rebuilding of the temple.
- Let the structure of the text drive the sermon
I. Narrative introduction and set-up (v. 10)
II. God instructs His people at a milestone with a teachable moment (v. 11-14)
a. Q & A #1 (v. 11-12)
b. Q & A #2 (v. 13)
c. God’s lesson for His people (v. 14)
III. God promises to bless His people by turning disaster into abundance (v. 15-19)
a. Look back and remember the result of your disobedience (v. 15-17)
b. Look forward and anticipate the result of your obedience (v. 18-19)