Haggai-Malachi -- 7.57 - 7.71

In 520, no progress on rebuilding the Temple had been made in some 16 years, since soon after the first return of the exiles.    Chapters 5 and 6 of Ezra describe how the prophets Haggai and Zechariah got the work started again by prophesying (Ezra 5:1) and preaching (Ezra 6:14).  Zerubbabel and Joshua led the rebuilding.

          "And the prophets of God were with them, helping them" (Ezra 5:2).

The words of Haggai are very brief, and limited to the situation faced by the Jews in the year 520.  Zechariah's visions refer to the larger purposes of God in history, and include Messianic themes.  Together, these men provided the prophetic witness to the Lord's Presence that Ezekiel had embodied in the generation of the exiles. 

          

After this, there was no further rebuilding in Jerusalem for almost 60 years.  Back in Persia, the events of the Book of Esther occurred during this hiatus.  In 458, Ezra journeyed to Jerusalem and found Temple worship still continuing, but the people had broken the covenant laws of holiness by intermarrying with Gentiles (Ezra chapters 7-10).  He instituted numerous reforms.  In 445, Nehemiah arrived from Susa and learned that the Jerusalem community was "in great trouble," with the city walls broken down and the gates burned (Neh 1:3).  He led an emergency project to rebuild the walls, which was completed in less than two months.  Thus, the rebuilding of the Temple in 520 represented a brief period of joy and faithfulness that was soon followed by a long period of disobedience and struggle.