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Peter Ackroyd opinion is that the dating formulae of Haggai may be artificial, with no other purpose than to “give a fuller expression to the conviction that the word of the Lord is operative and known in the precise situations of history.” No difficulties exist in them, however, sufficient to justify their being taken in any but a prima facie manner.
Interestingly, in another place the same scholar argues that “clearly the onus of proof must rest on anyone who disputes the dates [in Haggai].” As noted already, Ezekiel, an older contemporary of Haggai and Zechariah, took pains to establish the chronological parameters of his ministry (Ezek.
Pieter Verhoef also makes the point that dating of prophetic oracles emphasized the authenticity of the message.
The message of Haggai, so effective in shaking the Jews of 520 B. from their lethargy, has an abiding relevance for all who fail to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
The prophets Haggai and Zechariah were contemporaries and therefore shared a common historical setting—Jerusalem at the end of the sixth century B. That setting may be precisely identified, for no other biblical authors, with the exception of Ezekiel, tied their ministries and messages more closely to a chronological framework.
The result was a rupture between Astyages and Cyrus and the eventual conquest of Media by the young Persian upstart in 550 B. Meanwhile, Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562), who had conquered and destroyed Jerusalem and deported its leading citizens in July of 586 B.
C., had passed from the scene to be followed by Amel-Marduk (562-560), Neriglissar (560-556), and Labashi-Marduk (556).
In a day of profound discouragement and misplaced priorities following the return of the Jews from Babylonian exile, the prophet Haggai sounded a clarion call of rebuke, exhortation, and encouragement to his contemporaries.