The book of Haggai brings forward to when the people have returned to Jerusalem from Babylon by the God-inspired decree of Cryus, the king of Persia. We had run into that part back in Ezra.
According to Haggai, God is pretty mad about the people returning to Jerusalem and not doing anything to get back into relationship with Him. He is particularly upset about them getting there and just setting themselves up without concern for God and His house. This may seem to make some sense because the people wouldn’t really have any way of knowing that it was God’s indirect hand that led them back so quickly….
But if you remember in Ezra, they had been building when they first got there and were stopped by some people in chapter four of that book. Then the Ezra mentions Haggai by name in that he was among those who prophesied and got them to start up again. In the prophecy that Haggai gives in this book, there’s this:
11And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”
Did that just say a drought on people? Was no one being born during this time? Though I’m sure this is stressful everyone, I’m also sure that there was a special pain for women. Despite how much many of us would rather not be valued solely for a uterus, it’s still painful for any part of the body to not do it’s job. A drought on people sounds about like the worst possible thing I can imagine short of the tenth plague.
In this chapter God acknowledges that the foundation had been laid before but that He didn’t bless them until it was complete. Here they complete it. A lesser version than the one that Solomon built back in 2 Chronicles but they don’t have the means to build another temple of that magnitude just then.
Then he gets into a thing about related uncleanliness and cleanliness and unholy and holy things. I’ll be honest, it was confusing. In this same portion, though, there’s also a mention that God has been helping them prosper for as long as they were working on the temple so that they would be able to continue. Probably for some motivation too.
It ends with a prophecy about shaking things up and overthrowing all the kingdoms. As a Christian, it has a ring of the promise of Jesus.