The people of Israel were conquered by Babylon because they broke their covenant with God through idolatry and injustice. The book of Haggai was written 70 years after this prophesied exile and recounts the experience of a small group of Israelites, led by Joshua and Zerubbabel, who had returned to rebuild Jerusalem. Haggai challenges them to remember their covenant, remain faithful to God and build the temple before constructing their own homes.
While the new temple didn't meet their expectations, their efforts and faithfulness would be blessed. They could also be encouraged by God's promise to build a New Jerusalem for His international kingdom, defeat evil, and live in their midst. Future prophetic books contain more details about when these promises would be fulfilled.
The book of Haggai reminds the exiled rebuilders of Jerusalem to give God their primary allegiance and not rebel against the covenant like their ancestors.
The people felt discouraged because their temple looked unimpressive, but Haggai reminded them to keep working and hope in God's promise of a New Jerusalem.
New Covenant Call
Like ritual purity in Leviticus, the current Jerusalem inhabitants must humble themselves and reject injustice and apathy or their building efforts would be impure too.
Haggai challenged the exiled generation as Moses challenged the wilderness generation. They could choose their future. Obedience and covenant faithfulness brought success and God's blessing.
Hope in God's Kingdom
God will fulfill His promise to establish a New Jerusalem, the center of His international kingdom, and He will defeat evil from among the nations.