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The Jewish people are coming home to Jerusalem after seventy years of Babylonian exile, so what’s the first thing a responsible prophet of God should do?
That’s right—hit ‘em up for donations!
Haggai is the first televangelist, broadcasting the need for God’s people to give until it hurts so God’s house can be rebuilt. What makes his message so persuasive: the age-old hook that the reason you’re all hurting is that you do not give.
Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider how you have fared. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honoured, says the Lord. You have looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? says the Lord of hosts. Because my house lies in ruins, while all of you hurry off to your own houses. (NRSV 1:7-9)
Not a subtle one, that Haggai.