It is time to build the temple
1-2 The Lord spoke his message to Haggai, his prophet. At that time, Darius was king of Persia. He had been king for 1 year and 5 months. On the first day of the next month, the Lord told Haggai to speak to Zerubbabel, Judah's ruler, and to Joshua, the leader of God's priests. Zerubbabel was the son of Shealtiel. Joshua was the son of Jehozadak. This was the Almighty Lord's message: ‘Judah's people say that this is not the right time to build a temple for me.’
1:1-2When we write Lord like this, it is a special name for God. Sometimes people write it as ‘Yahweh’, or as ‘Jehovah’. It is his own name that he told Moses. See Exodus 3:14. It means ‘I am who I am’. This shows that God has always been there and he always will be there.
1:2King Darius ruled over the country of Persia and over many other countries. Judah was one of those countries. It was where the Jews lived.
3 The Lord told his prophet Haggai to say this to the people:
4 ‘You people are living in beautiful houses. But my temple is still just a heap of stones! It is time for you to do something about it! 5 I, the Almighty Lord, tell you this: Think carefully about what is happening to you. 6 You plant seeds but not many plants grow to give you food. You never have enough to eat. You drink, but you are still thirsty. You have clothes to wear, but they do not keep you warm. When you receive money for your work, you soon need to spend it. Then you have no money left.
7 The Almighty Lord also says this: Think about how you live your lives. 8 Now go up to the hills to get wood to build my temple again. If you do that, I will be happy. You will worship me there as you should do. 9 You thought that you would get a lot of food from the crops that grow in your fields. But only a few plants grew. When you brought your food home, it quickly disappeared. I blew it away! Why do you think all this happened? It happened because my temple is still a heap of stones. At the same time, you all work hard to build your own houses. I, the Almighty Lord, am telling you this! 10 That is why there has been no rain on your fields. That is why your plants do not grow well. 11 I have stopped the rain, so that your fields and the hills have become dry. Your crops will not grow. There will be no grapes to make wine. You will not have olives to make oil. Nothing will grow in the ground. Your animals will not become fat. People and animals will all hurt. For all your work, you will get nothing.’
The people obey the Lord
12 Zerubbabel and Joshua, the leader of the priests, as well as all the people obeyed the Lord, their God. They were the people that the Lord had brought back to Jerusalem from Babylon. When they heard the message that Haggai spoke to them, they agreed that it was a message from the Lord. As a result, they respected the Lord and they decided to obey him. 13 Haggai, the Lord's prophet, then spoke this message from the Lord: ‘The Lord says, “I am with you.” ’
14 In that way, the Lord gave strength to Zerubbabel, Joshua and all the people who had returned to live in Jerusalem. They decided to work hard to build the temple of their God, the Almighty Lord. 15 They started to work on the 24th day of that same month, in the second year after Darius had become king.