1 On the first day of the sixth month, during the second year King Darius reigned over the Persian Empire, the prophet named Haggai gave a message from the Eternal One to men named Zerubbabel (Shealtiel’s son and the Jewish governor of Judah) and Joshua (Jehozadak’s son and the high priest). 2 This is what the Eternal, the Commander of heavenly armies who is more powerful even than the king, had to say.
Eternal One: These people living in Jerusalem say it’s not yet the right time for them to rebuild the temple, the place where the Eternal One dwells.
3 The prophet Haggai gave a message from the Eternal.
Eternal One:4 Do you think the time is right for you to live in secure and lavishly covered homes when My house still lies in a heap of rubble? 5 Think very carefully about your choices. 6 You have planted a large crop, but your harvest is small. You have food to eat, but it is never enough to satisfy. You have something to drink, but you are never filled. You have clothes to wear, but they are not enough to keep you warm. You earn a salary, but the money runs out quickly, as if there are holes in your pocket.
7 Think very carefully about your choices. 8 Go up to the mountains, and bring down trees to make lumber and build My house. Do this so I may take pleasure in it and be honored by it.
9 You expected to be well rewarded for all your hard work. But as you see, you are getting back almost nothing. As you have brought in profits, I’ve blown them away. Why? I, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, will tell you why: My house has remained in ruins while each of you has been chasing after your own concerns. 10 This is why heaven above you has held back the dew[a] and the earth has refused to produce crops. 11 I caused a drought in both the fields and the hills. All the crops you tried to produce have been affected, including your grain, your new wine, and your oil. All have been damaged: humanity, cattle, and everything you tried to produce yourself.
12 Then Zerubbabel (Shealtiel’s son), Joshua (Jehozadak’s son and the high priest), and all those who had returned obeyed the voice of the Eternal, their True God. They took seriously the message brought by the prophet Haggai, believing he had been sent by the Eternal One, whom they worshiped and feared.
Haggai says the fields are not producing food because the temple has not been rebuilt. This understanding correlates God’s divine presence with the fertility of the land. The notion of divine control of natural events is common to the ancient world, but Haggai understands that acts of sacrifice or external displays of intrinsic beliefs cannot renew the land; transformative change brought on by the Lord’s presence can. God wants His people to experience real spiritual changes that are reflected in the ways they interact with each other and the rest of the world.
13-15 On the 24th day of that 6th month, which was King Darius’ 2nd year, Haggai, the messenger of the Eternal One, received this new message from the Eternal and shared it with the people.
Eternal One: I am with you.
And the Eternal One rallied the spirit of Zerubbabel (Shealtiel’s son and Judah’s governor), the spirit of Joshua (Jehozadak’s son and the high priest), and the spirit of all those who had returned to Jerusalem so that they came together and began work on the house of their God, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies.
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