The book of Haggai is Narrative History and Prophetic Oracle. The prophet Haggai wrote it approximately 520 B.C. Haggai is among the most carefully and precisely dated books in the entire Bible. It is a post-exilic book, meaning it was written after (post) the captivity (exile) in Babylon. Key personalities are Haggai, Zerubbabel, and Joshua. The purpose of this book was that Haggai was called by God to encourage the people to finish the construction of the temple in Jerusalem. The construction had ceased because of opposition and because the neighboring countries, and the Jews were frightened. • In chapter 1, God called on Haggai to deliver His message. The Jews were living in their comfortable houses while the temple, the house of God, sat unfinished, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘This people says, “The time has not come, even the time for the house of the LORD to be rebuilt” (1:2). The Jews began working 24 days after Haggai’s message (vs. 15). • In chapter 2, Haggai motivated the Jews to continue building the temple, and that God will bless them, “As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!” (2:5). The building of the temple in Jerusalem was completed in 515 B.C.
The book of Judges includes several interesting genres; Poetry, Riddles, and mainly Narrative History. Its author is anonymous but it is usually assumed that Samuel, the prophet wrote it. It was written about 1086-1004 B.C. Key personalities include Othniel, Ehud, Deborah, Gideon, Abimelech, Jephthah, Samson, and Delilah. Its purpose was to teach Israel that God is faithful and certain to punish sin therefore each person must remain loyal and devoted to Him. This book shows the immediate generations after the conquest of the promised land and unfortunately, the results of unfaithfulness are similar to what we have seen in the past… awful. • In chapters 1:1-3:6, we find that the Israelites have failed to keep their part of the covenant (among many other things), and did not entirely conquer and take control of all the land that they were promised. This problem unfortunately grows wildly out of control as time goes on. • From 3:7-16, God raises up judges to rescue Israel several times. A cycle of sin-rescue-worship-sin continues constantly. These rescues were temporary because we find that the nation’s obedience only lasted as long as the life of that particular judge. Out of the 14 judges mentioned, the major judges that stand out are the famous stories of Deborah, Gideon, and Samson. • In chapters 17-31, we see Israel slumping into a horrid state of moral demise and ruin. Predominantly in the tribes of Dan and Benjamin, we see how far man has really turned from the God of Abraham. The Dan tribe had almost completely given in to the worship of idols made by a man named Micah, even to the point that they practically defend it. Later, the entire tribe of Benjamin is wiped out down to 600 men in a violent and vicious civil war. It is here we read the sad passage of truth, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 21:25)
The book of Ruth is the Narrative of a love story, yet also has some important Genealogy. The timeline of this book is intertwined during the period of the Judges. The author was anonymous but some believe it was perhaps written by Samuel the prophet; however, it is unlikely that he was alive when this book was written. It was written about 1046-1035 B.C. Key personalities include Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz. Its purpose was to demonstrate the kind of love, and faithfulness that God desires for us. It shows the difference between what happens when a nation does not follow in obedience to the covenant of God (Judges), and when God’s people follow in faithfulness within the covenant (Ruth). • In chapter 1, Ruth remains loyal to her mother-in-law Naomi after the death of her husband and in-laws. Naomi decides to return to her homeland of Bethlehem alone, however, Ruth insists on staying with her and adopting Naomi’s God as her own. “But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (1:16). • Chapter 2 we see Ruth gleaning in the fields of Naomi’s relative Boaz. Boaz out of compassion and obedience to the law allows Ruth to glean but also leaves extra grain for her purposely. • In chapter 3, Naomi encourages Ruth to seek marriage with Boaz as a kinsman-redeemer. Ruth obeys Naomi and asks for her rights and Boaz agrees but mentions that he must first be sure there are no others with first rights. • Chapter 4 Boaz and Naomi are married and Ruth conceives a son named Obed, the grandfather of the great King David, in the lineage of Christ our Messiah.