~ The background to the books of Ezra and Haggai is the exile of Judah to Babylon in 587 BC and the return from exile following the edict of Cyrus in 538 BC. Ezra narrates the history of the period, while Haggai speaks into the situation where those who had begun to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1 - 3) had ceased to do so because of external opposition and internal failure of nerve (Ezra 4).
In Robert Fyall's valuable exposition, the pairing of Ezra with Haggai (instead of the more usual Nehemiah) enhances our appreciation of both. Ezra is a vital and stimulating book in its revelation of God's purposes, and Haggai's brief prophecy deals with highly significant issues.
The message of these books, with their emphasis on building for God and the need for obedience to his Word and openness to his Spirit, is one that needs to be heard clearly today. The theme of the providence of God is an encouragement to God's people in dispiriting times.