Haggai 1 – The Call to Rebuild the Temple & The Ancient City of Cush

Haggai told the people to wait on You.  And “waiting on You” is enjoyable and exciting, yet it can also become irritating at times due to our impatient ways as well as curiosity.

Many people say that life is tough no matter what.  And I agree with that:

IF we don’t look outward;

IF we don’t look outside of the box;

IF we don’t wait on you.

For example, I would say angles have an easier life, but not necessarily a better life. 

As I had said, waiting on You can become irritating at times simply because we are curious and lack patience.  Well, imagine how the angles must feel when they can’t understand something but they know they are so close.  For example, the Holy Ghost (1 Pet 1:122).  It would be like giving a child a present and not letting them open it.

“Unto whom it was reveal, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel into you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into” (1 Pet 1:12).

The Greek phrase, “to look into” means “to stoop and look intently.”  That tells me that they know of the Holy Ghost, they know He is fantastic, but they don’t know Him.

Through that Cross there is the reconciliation of things “in the heavens.” The angels had been taught by God concerning Himself since the first day. They have been learning and serving since then.

That’s kind of like us, we know (or anyone can if they want) how great You are, but we don’t quite understand You.  We have to “wait.”

Therefore, is life on earth that difficult?  Do we have it better or worse than others?

Tomorrow I want to point out someone else that truly has it worse than us, but before we get out of Haggai (there are only two chapters) I want to…

Haggai 1
The Call to Rebuild the Temple

1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying,

Full view of Biston, the largest stone relief
and inscription in the world, near Kermansha.

“Second year…sixth month…first day” – August 29, 520 B.C.

“Darius the king” – Darius Hystaspis (or Hystaspes) ruled Persia from 522 to 486 B.C.  It was he who prepared the trilingual inscription on the Behistun (Bisitun) cliff wall (located in modern Iran), through which cuneiform languages were deciphered.

“First day” – the new moon was the day on which prophets were sometimes consulted (2 Kgs 4:22-23).

“Shealtiel” – according to 1 Chr 3:17-19 he was Zerubbabel’s grandfather (in Hebrew “son” sometimes means “grandson”).

“Josedech” – had been taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar.

2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built.

“This people” – because of their sins the nation is not called “my people.”

“Time is not come” – after the foundation of the temple had been laid in 536 B.C. opposition hindered and then halted the work until 520 B.C. 

“Time is not come” is strategic for Haggai’s message.  It interlocks with Zephaniah’s “at the time” (Zeph 3:9-20), which is the object of faith for his readers; that it, “wait” (Zeph 3:8) for that time when the Lord would come to institute the great day of the Lord.

Haggai uses it in a deep ironic fashion, as the pious claim they are simply “waiting” for that time – the specific task of the faithful.

3 Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,

4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?

Closer view of the Inscription.

“Cieled houses” – or “paneled houses,” usually connected with royal dwellings, which had cedar paneling.  This unusual word appears only six times and its meaning is obscure.  It may have the meaning of “beam,” as in houses built with beams.

Haggai’s main message appears centered on the responsibility of the faithful as stewards of time.  One response is to “wait” for the day of the Lord.  Haggai is challenging them that until that day comes; they are to use “time” as an opportunity to work for God in the same way they have worked for themselves.

5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

This is a Photograph taken from up on the face of Behiston Rock showing the King facing the prisoners.

6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.

“Sown much, and bring in little” – a curse for disobedience.

“Drink…not filled with drink” – the people experience futility in all their activities, legitimate or illegitimate.

“A bag with holes” – famine causes prices to rise sharply.

7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

8 Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD.

9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came too little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.

10 Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit.

11 And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that, which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labor of the hands.

Darius I (550–486 B.C.) was the third king of the Persian Achaemenid Empire.

Also called Darius the Great, he ruled the empire at its peak, when it included much of West Asia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, parts of the Balkans (Bulgaria-Pannonia), portions of north and northeast Africa including Egypt (Mudrâya), eastern Libya, coastal Sudan, Eritrea, as well as most of Pakistan, the Aegean Islands and northern Greece Thrace-Macedonia.

“The corn…the new wine…the oil” – the three basic crops of the land.  Corn actually referred to wheat and barley.  Olive oil was used as food, ointment or medicine.

12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD.

“Did fear” – this is a remarkable response since most prophets were rejected.  It reinforces the interpretation that their main problem was misunderstanding their responsibility to “time.”

13 Then spake Haggai the LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD.

“I am with you” – a sure indication of success.  God had, in the past, been “absent” for long periods of time (400 years in Egypt) and had seemed to be so for these two generations in exile.  This formula would have reminded every Jew of Ex 3:12-15.

Both the curse they were experiencing and this timely reminder of God’s presence assured them that His covenant was still in effect.  Every New Covenant believer has this same promise from Christ: “I am with you always” (Matt 28:20).

14 And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God,

15 In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.

“Four and twentieth day of the sixth month” – September 21, 520 B.C.

The Ancient City of Cush

Biblical Cush lay south of Egypt. Most references to the term “Cush” probably refer to Lower and Upper Nubia, the region directly south of Egypt, with its northern limit at the First Cataract of the Nile and its southern boundary at Sixth Cataract.

Sometimes the term may have been used more broadly for parts of Africa south Egypt, but Cush is not to be equated with modern Ethiopia.Ancient sources confirm that Cush was a land of great wealth; in fact, the Egyptian name Nubia may come from the word nub, or “gold.”

Egyptian trade lists record the precious minerals and other luxury items that traveled north from Cush along the Nile commerce routes. Among these commodities were gold, silver, cosmetics, balsam, frankincense and myrrh.

Ruins of Ancient Cush/Kush

Exotic animal products, such as ostrich eggs, rhinoceros horns and panther skins, were also available from or through Cush. Job 28:19 speaks of Cush as the source of the precious stone topaz.

Throughout Egyptian history Nubia and Egypt struggled against each other. For the most part Egypt was dominant—especially when Egyptian power was at its height under the New Kingdom pharaohs.

Sometimes, however, Nubians extended their reach into Egypt—as during the Second Intermediate period. While the Hyksos ruled Lower (northern) Egypt, the Nubians penetrated from the south. The Nubians themselves, however, were thoroughly Egyptianized.

Cushites appear several times in the Old Testament. Num 12:1 recounts that Moses had a Cushite wife; 2 Sam 18:21-31 mentions that David’s army had a Cushite messenger; and 2 Chr 14:9 refers to a “Zerah the Cushite,” who fought against Asa of Judah.

Ancient Nubia-Kush Archeteture

From the Biblical perspective, however, the most significant Cushite or Nubian power was represented by the 25th Dynasty of Egypt (c. 780-656 B.C.). Under the Nubian pharaohs Piye (Piankhi), Shabaka, Shebitku and Tarhaqa (Biblical Tirhakah; 2Kgs 19:9), the unified Egypt and Nubia became powerful and prosperous.

Shabaka, for example, carried out an extensive rebuilding campaign in Egypt, seeking to revive ancient pharaonic traditions such as building in the temple precinct at Karnak, near Thebes.  Also, the Nubian military pushed northward out of Egypt and confronted the Assyrians.

Shebitku checked the expansion of Sennacherib at Eltekeh (in the coastal plain of Israel) in 701 B.C.

Although the Nubian-Egyptian forces were a power to be reckoned with, Isaiah warned Judah against placing any hope in them for protection from Assyria (Isa 20:3- 6). Indeed, Nubian fortunes soon fell before the Assyrians.

Nubia is a region along the Nile river, which is located in northern Sudan and southern Egypt.
There were a number of large Nubian kingdoms throughout the Middle Ages, the last of which collapsed in 1504.

Tarhaqa, although an energetic and capable ruler, was defeated and driven back by Esarhaddon of Assyria, who actually captured Memphis in 671 B.C. After that point Nubian power in Egypt collapsed.

Haggai told the people that they had to “wait on You,” and I know through experience that waiting on You is not the same “waiting” like when we go to the doctor and have to wait. 

…do a quick review of the Book of Haggai.