Haggai was the first prophet to speak the Word of God to Israel after they returned from Babylonian captivity. His message to the returning Israelites encouraged both the spiritual and moral reconstruction of Solomon's Temple, which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. The Book of Haggai is part of "The Restoration Period" (536-420 B.C.) that is spoken about in detail in the books Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.
In 536 B.C., Priest Zerubbabel led the remnant Israelites numbering almost fifty thousand back to Jerusalem to begin construction of the new Temple, referred to later as the Temple of Zerubbabel. Building on the same site as the first Temple, work ceased after about ten years of reconstruction because of political pressures and problems. Persian King Darius, the ruling monarch in 521 B.C., was interested in law, which led to him granting permission to the Jews to start the rebuilding project once again.
In 520 B.C., Haggai delivered the words of the LORD to stir the Israelites to start the building the Temple. Haggai spoke to the remnant about their spiritual and religious needs that were centered upon the rebuilding of the LORD God's House. His ministry, lasting for just four short months, generated enthusiasm and motivated the Israelites to continue the rebuilding project. The Temple of Zerubbabel was finally completed in the sixth year of Darius' rule in 516 B.C.
In the beginning of the rebuild, as the less spacious and less magnificent Temple of Zerubbabel began taking shape before the Israelites eyes, they were perplexed. To re-inspire their effort, Haggai promised them that the LORD God was with their efforts and predicted the future Temple would have more splendor than the former house of the LORD God. His prophecy would later support not only Israel's religious restoration, but proclaim the shadow of Jesus Christ, as he restored believers through the most perfect tabernacle through his being.
The identity of "Haggai the Prophet", author of the "Book of Haggai," is uncertain. Nothing is known of his personal history, except for brief mention in Ezra 5:1 and 6:14. Although some suggest that Haggai 2:3 hints that Haggai was one of a group of Israelites that had seen Solomon's Temple in its former glory ("Book of Haggai Introduction", King James Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1988. 1356.), there is not enough evidence to support this claim. Although his age or origin in Biblical history is unknown, Haggai's ministry as a prophet was raised perfectly in the specific time and place to move God's people forward, rebuild His Temple, and accomplish His Will.