Book Review–The Message of Ezra and Haggai (Robert Fyall)

This is one of the most recent additions to the Bible Speaks Today series, and covers two books that fall into the post-exilic time-frame. Fyall recognizes that Ezra and Haggai are often neglected in favour of the slightly more accessible account of Nehemiah, and the more vivid prophecy of Zechariah. Nevertheless, he is determined to demonstrate to us that both books have a message for us today.

He identifies the main themes of Ezra as: God, the worship of God, the people of God, and Scripture and prayer. Its ongoing relevance is that it demonstrates that God never abandons his purpose or gives up on his people, but gives light for their guidance.

His approach is to work through the text, often making points of application along the way, but then a few pages at the end of each chapter are deliberately focused on what the contemporary message for the church is. Many of these points centre on the importance of the Word of God, the presence of God and the holiness of God.

The commentary on Haggai presents him as a prophet who had to confront a people like the church at Laodicea – tepid and complacent. Haggai’s style is blunt and succinct, with his prophecy a mixture of encouragement and rebuke. The temple for Haggai is the visible sign of God dwelling amongst his people by his Spirit. Fyall makes a point of showing how there is more going on here than simply a building project.

Overall I would say that I enjoyed working through this volume on two books of the Bible I don’t know particularly well. He gives enough background to help you piece together the timelines of the two books, but the focus throughout remains on finding what the Bible says today to our own situations.

Book Review – CBC Haggai (Andrew Hill)

Here’s another review from volume 10 of the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, this time on the short book of Haggai. Andrew Hill covers Haggai, along with Zechariah and Malachi, giving continuity to these three closely related books.


One nice feature of Haggai’s ministry is that it can be precisely dated and located in Israel’s history. Haggai was a herald sounding a wake-up call to a community that was spiritually asleep. In particular he wanted to stir them up to rebuild the temple. He emphasised the abiding presence of God’s Spirit. Some key themes of Haggai include:

  • A call to reprioritize community life
  • Reiteration of promises of blessing and restoration
  • Ritual purity for priests and people – they are to be holy
  • The prominence of the Davidic line


As with all the commentaries in this series, the authors explain the meaning of a section, and then move to some quick, theological reflection, often linking in other parts of Scripture. So for example, Hill offers helpful comments on putting the significance of the temple into its proper place. He highlights how Haggai makes regular use of the name “Lord of Heaven’s Armies” for God.

On the second chapter, Hill shows how Haggai draws on themes from Ezekiel and Jeremiah’s prophecies in previous times, and overturns Jeremiah’s curse on the Davidic line (Jer 22:24-30), rekindling the messianic hopes that had been dashed by the Babylonian exile. He points out that though the second temple did not outstrip the glory of Solomon’s temple in terms of architectural magnificence, the real glory consists of  God’s presence in and amongst his people.

Overall, this has been one of my favourite commentaries in this volume so far. Hill has made effective use of the short space available to make this a good companion to those wanting to do a brief study of Haggai.