Haggai, if you don’t know, is a short book in the Bible named after the prophet who is generally accepted as having spoken his message in the autumn of 520 BC. We can be so precise because, like the work of his contemporary, Zechariah, his utterances are linked in with specific months and days in the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.
I spoke on Haggai at church tonight, taking my turn in an ongoing series on what are known as the Minor Prophets. The book only covers a double spread in the average Bible, broken into two chapters containing a series of four short messages (chapter 1 contains the first and chapter 2 has the others). I spent the first part of my sermon setting the historical context and exploring what Haggai was saying to his people and then considered what those messages might mean for today, even particularly for my church, St Clement’s in Oxford.
The first one is a message not to neglect working together on the work God has called us to, resisting the temptation to look after our own needs and desires as individuals rather than being committed to being the people of God. I suspect that, as much as Haggai gets preached on, that is the main message that gets drawn out. The other three I explained as not being discouraged when the realities of life don’t seem to be as exciting as what you read about in books; to accept that some things are hard or impossible to understand and not to get ensnared by that (I still feel that I don’t really get what the third message is about); finally, to walk in grace as people chosen by God not because of our special ability but because of his love (see Ephesians 2:4-10).