A comparison of the Masoretic Text, the partially preserved Dead Sea Scroll text, and the Septuagint reveal that the message has been faithfully preserved. The differences that do exist are not really significant. The book of Haggai that first-century Christians read or heard read is basically the very book we can read today.
Certain aspects that may not be clear to us were understood by those who originally heard the message. They were not puzzled about whether they were being encouraged to think back to a former time or ahead to the future. For us, that particular aspect does not have the same significance. It has no bearing on our lives as devoted disciples of God’s beloved Son.
Much of what is said in the Scriptures about YHWH’s activity relates to his permissive will or his refraining from direct action. The messages contained in the book of Haggai emphasize an abiding truth. When life does not have our heavenly Father as its main focus, it is an empty life. There is no blessing. The psalmist recognized that love for YHWH’s law made him wiser than men much older than he was. He saw his life as being richer and more meaningful. So, with us, our joy is not controlled by externals. Our superior happiness comes from giving, not from acquiring. Having been made wise by what our heavenly Father has provided, we are not wasteful of our time, energies, and resources. Therefore, the effort we put forth in working yields far greater dividends than it does for those who have no spiritual life. So we do experience our heavenly Father’s blessing each and every day. The reverential spirit of appreciation for what our heavenly Father has done and continues to do for us is not diminished when we recognize the difference between his direct action and his permissive will. In the ultimate sense, all that is good comes from him. Consequently, the abandonment of a spiritual life damages one seriously, resulting in “running” after one’s own affairs without any awareness of the heavenly Father’s love and that of his Son. What is life without the inner peace that comes from knowing that we are deeply loved by One who can sustain us in whatever situation we may come to find ourselves? What is a life without knowing that God’s beloved Son gave up his life for us and continues to love us? For us as believers, the thought of a life without our heavenly Father and his Son is just too horrible to contemplate.