The Prophet. His name means “Remembered of the Lord” and like Haggai he appears to have been among the captives who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel. He was a co-laborer with Haggai, beginning his work two mouths later and continuing into the second year following him. The conditions of the times were the same as those described in Haggai.
The Prophecy. The purpose is the same as that of Haggai. The time of the first eight chapters is that of the rebuilding of the temple while the remaining chapters, 9-14, are thought to have been written thirty years later. It is distinguished for: (1) The symbolic character of its visions. (2) The richness of his Messianic predictions found in the second part. (3) The large place given to angelic mediation in the intercourse with Jehovah.
The Contents. The contents have been said to contain: (1) Encouragements to lead the people to repent and reform; (2) Discussions about keeping up the days of fasting and humiliation observed during the captivity; (3) Reflections of a moral and spiritual nature; (4) Denunciations against some contemporary nations; (5) Promises of the prosperity of God’s people; (6) Various predictions concerning Christ and his kingdom.
I. Eight Visions Encouraging the Rebuilding of the Temple, Chs. 1-6. Introduction, 1:1-6.
1. The horseman among the myrtle trees, 1:7-17.
2. The four horns and four carpenters, 1:18-21.
3. The man with the measuring line, Ch. 2.
4. Joshua, the High Priest, and Satan, Ch. 3.
5. The Golden Candlestick, Ch. 4.
6. The Flying Roll 5:1-4.
7. The woman and ephah, 5:5-11 end.
8. The four war chariots, 6:1-8.
Appendix: Joshua crowned as a type of Christ, 6:9-15.
II. Requirement of the Law and the Restoration and Enlargement of Israel, Chs. 7-8.
1. Obedience better than fasting. 7:1-7.
2. Disobedience the source of all their past misery, 7:8-14 end.
3. The restoration and enlargement which prefigure Christ “The Jew,” Ch.8.
III. Visions of the Messianic Kingdom. Chs. 9-14.
1. The Messianic King, Ch. 9-10.
2. The rejected Shepherd, Ch. 11.
3. The restored and penitent people, Chs. 12-13.
4. The divine sovereignty, Ch. 14.
For Study and Discussion. (1) The symbols and figures used in the several visions. (2) The different ways of expressing or planning the success of God’s people and the overthrow of their enemies. (3) The discussion of fasting, should they keep it up? What is superior to it? etc. (4) The promises of these prophesies. (5) The denunciations and judgments found in the book.
The Prophet. His name means “Messenger of the Lord.” or “My Messenger”. He was connected with the reform movement of Nehemiah and Ezra and condemned the same sins which they condemned. He must, therefore, have lived about 100 years after Haggai and Zechariah, or about 430-420 B. C. He was the last of the Old Testament inspired prophets.
The Condition of the Time. The people had been restored to Jerusalem and the temple and walls rebuilt. They had become sensual and selfish and had grown careless and neglectful of their duty. Their interpretation of the glowing prophecies of the exilic and pre-exilic prophets had led them to expect to realize the Messianic kingdom immediately upon their return. They were, therefore, discouraged and grew skeptical (2:17) because of the inequalities of life seen everywhere. This doubt of divine justice had caused them to neglect vital religion and true piety had given place to mere formality. They had not relapsed into idolatry but a spirit of worldliness had crept in and they were guilty of many vices such as we see today in professedly Christian communities.
The Prophecy. The purpose of this prophecy was to rebuke the people for departing from the worship of the law of God, to call the people back to Jehovah and to revive their national spirit. There are in it: (1) Unsparing denunciations of social evils and of the people of Israel. (2) Severe rebukes for the indifference and hypocrisy of the priests. (3) Prophecies of the coming of the Messiah and the characteristics and manner of his coming. (4) Prophecies concerning the forerunner of the Messiah.
Introduction: Jehovah’s love of Israel. 1:1-5. This is seen in the contrast between Israeli and Egypt.
I. Israel’s Lack of Love of God, 1:6-2:16. It is proved.
1. By their polluted offerings, 1:6 end.
2. By the sins of the priests. 2:1-9.
3. By their heathen marriages and by their divorces, 2:10-16.
II. God Will Come and Judge His People, 2:17-4:6 end.
1. His messenger will separate the righteous from the wicked, 2:17- 4:6.
2. This is seen in the effect of their withholding or paying tithes. 3:7-12.
3. Faithful services will be rewarded. 3:13-4:6 end.
For Study and Discussion. (1) Make a list of the particular sins rebuked. (2) Make a list of all the different things said about the Messiah and his mission and also that of the forerunner. (3) Analyze and study each of the seven controversies. 1:2, 7; 2:13, 14, 17; 3:7, 8, 14. (4) Compare the future destinies of the righteous and wicked as revealed in this book, making a list of all that is said of each. (5) Make a list of all the promises of the book.