Last Sunday I started preaching through the writings of Haggai. The contents of this book (I call it a book, though it is only two chapters long!) were given at a difficult time in Israel’s history. It is post-exile, where a remnant have returned to the ruined Jerusalem in order to rebuild the temple.
I guess we can only imagine the fragility of the people. After all, all the covenant promises to Abraham, Moses and David seemed to have come to nothing. Even though they had been allowed to return, you can sense the pathos of their situation, and the ease with which they had become discouraged. “What’s the point?” seems be written through them like in a stick of Blackpool rock.
It seems significant to me, then, that God is referred to frequently as “The LORD Almighty” (NIV) or, more literally, “The LORD of hosts” (as in the NKJV and AV). This title is important.
When “LORD” is used in the OT, it is the translation of YHWH. This is the covenant name of God. It is noticeable that in the first chapter of Genesis where God displays his creative power, He is referred to as Elohim. But in chapter 2, where Adam is the focus of attention, He is called YHWH or LORD. Why? Because he forms a special relationship with Adam – a covenant relationship. So when the OT uses ‘LORD’ it has in view who He is, not just what he is. This is especially true in Haggai. How the people needed to know that this was their covenant-making God speaking, and that his interest and concern for his people had not waned!
But more than that, He is the LORD of hosts. He is the commander of legions. He is almighty, as the NIV states. He is powerful over creation and providence. He orders the affairs of men and nations. How this remnant needed to hear this too. Not only does God care for them, but he is able to do something about it!
All this leads to the conclusion that surely God’s promises to his people had not failed. His plans are not thwarted. He will save his people, even this motley remnant!