Zephaniah and Haggai.

Zephaniah.

The Prophet. He is a son of Cushi, a descendant of Hezekiah, and prophesied about 630 B. C. during the reign of Josiah. His prophesies may have aided in inaugurating and in carrying to success the reforms of Josiah. His name means “hid of the Lord” in he is supposed to have been a contemporary of Habakkuk.

The Prophecy. The prophecy seems to be based upon the ravages of the Scythians, whom the nations had come to fear and whom Egypt had bribed, and looks to the judgment of the Lord which cannot be escaped. Its theme, therefore, is “The great day of the Lord” in which suffering will come upon all nations with which the prophet is familiar, Jerusalem and all Judea included. Converts would be won from all parts of the world and these could worship Jehovah, “every one from his place”.

Analysis.

I. The Coming Day of Wrath. Ch. 1.

1. The destruction of all things, 1-6.

2. The severe punishment of Judah, 7-18.

II. Judgment Upon Evil Nations, 2:1-3:7.

1. A plea for repentance, 2:1-3.

2. The doom that shall engulf the nations, 2:4-end.

3. Judah’s obstinacy in sin, 3:1-7.

III. Promised Blessing for the Faithful Remnant, 3:8-20

.

1. Because of Israel’s sin, the nation will be cleansed by punishment and converted to God, 3:3-10.

2. Purified Israel shall be honored in all the earth, 3:11-20.

For Study and Discussion, (1) Gather a list of all that is said to induce repentance or the turning away from evil. (2) What sins are condemned in Judah and other nations. Make a list of them. (3) Name the special classes that are condemned, as princes. (4) Make a list of the blessings promised for the coming Messianic days. (5) The purpose of the Lord’s judgments.

Haggai.

The Prophet. Haggai was born in Babylon and was one of those who returned from captivity, under Zerrubbabel, according to the decree of Cyrus. He prophesied during the period of the rebuilding of the temple, as recorded in Ezra and he was the first prophet called to prophesy after the Jews returned from the captivity in Babylon. He began his teaching sixteen years after the return of the first band to Jerusalem.

The Conditions Out of Which Grew the Prophecy. Under the decree of Cyrus. King of Persia, Zerrubbabel, a descendant of King David, had led a company of captives back to Jerusalem. They had set up the altar and work on the temple had been begun, but the work had been interrupted by the hostile Samaritans and others and for about fourteen years almost nothing had been done. These years of inactivity had dulled their zeal and they were rapidly becoming reconciled to the situation and by reason of their weakness, compared with the great task before them, they were beginning to despair of seeing their people and beloved city and Temple restored to that glory pictured by former prophets.

The Prophecy. Its purpose was to restore the hope of the people and to give them zeal for the cause of God. This was accomplished by means of four distinct visions, each of which shows their folly in not completing the work, mid promises divine blessing. They hear God say, “I am with you, and will bless you.” The result is seen in that they are enabled, in spite of opposition, to finish and dedicate it in about four years.

Analysis.

I. The Appeal to Rebuild the Temple, Ch. 1.

1. The appeal, 1:11.

2. The preparations to build, 12-15.

II. The New Temple, 2:1-19.

1. The superior glories of it, 2:1-9.

2. The blessing of its holy service, 2:10-19.

III. The Messianic Kingdom, 2:10-23.

For Study and Discussion, (1) The rebukes uttered by the prophet. (2) The encouragements he offers. (3) The historical confirmation of the facts of this book found in Ezra. (4) False content and discontent. (5) Basing conclusions upon the comparative strength of the friends and enemies of a proposition, while leaving God out of the count.