Haggai 2 - Outline of Haggai (Book Notes menu page)
1. In the seventh [month], in the one and twentieth [day] of the month,
came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying,
2 Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah,
and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest,
and to the residue of the people, saying,
3 Who [is] left among you that saw this house in her first glory?
and how do ye see it now?
[is it] not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?
This third message was received 27 days after the previous Word from the LORD (Hag 1:13-15).
The work was progressing. But now, less than a month into the renewed project, there was a source of discouragement.
The Temple under construction did not look like much, in comparison with the size and beauty of Solomon's Temple.
This source of discouragement was not new. It had been encountered 13 years earlier, when the foundation of the House was laid (Ezr 3:8-13). But now, as the work resumed, their project seemed hopelessly inadequate, in the eyes of the elders who had seen the first {ie., former} House (ie., Solomon's Temple) prior to its destruction.
     The intricate ornamentation and magnificent beauty of Solomon's Temple are described in detail in 1Kings ch.6-7. The building was constructed of great hewn stones and imported cedar timbers. The wood was ornately carved and overlaid with gold. The precious metals within the building and its vessels were beyond weight. Their monetary value was beyond estimation, in a day when silver was as plentiful as common stones in Jerusalem (1Kin 10:27).
     Some, of the oldest returnees from the Babylonian captivity, had seen the former Temple, when they were children or youth. Their memories did not recall the full glory of the Temple, because it had been progressively diminished as Babylon carried away Temple vessels and precious metals, in three successive captivities, over a period of 22 years, until the Temple and its city were left in ruins (2Kin ch.24-25; 2Chr ch.36). Even so, this second Temple was pitifully poor in comparison to their memories.
In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month...
This date corresponds to the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23:24-36).
     This occasion should have been a time of celebration and praise to the LORD. Fifteen years earlier, shortly after their return to the land, and their building of the altar, they had rejoiced together at the Feast of Tabernacles (Ezr 3:1-6). A year and a half later, weeping and rejoicing had been mingled, as the Temple foundations were completed. Now, as slow progress had been resumed, again they shed tears as they gazed on the inferior structure, upon which they were laboring.
...came the word of the LORD...
Recognizing their need, the LORD sent His Word to lift them out of discouragement.
4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD;
and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest;
and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD,
and work: for I [am] with you, saith the LORD of hosts:
5 [According to] the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt,
so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.
The LORD gave a threefold exhortation to His servants...
  1. be strong {HB=chazaq, strong, resolute, courageous} -
    This word from God was confirmed by the prophet Zechariah, at the same time (Zech 8:9).
       It was reminiscent of God's Word to Joshua, the son of Nunn, as he led the people into the land of promise (Josh 1:6-9).
       Today also, God's servants often become discouraged as they consider the small size and limited effectiveness of their ministries, where few may attend and there is little visible fruit. He speaks similar words to us, in the NT (eg., 1Cor 16:13; 2Cor 10:4).
       However, the LORD does not merely encourage us, to find strength within ourselves. Rather, as we hear and believe His Word, it is He who strengthens His servants. Dan 10:19; Eph 6:10; 2Tim 2:1
  2. work {HB='asah, accomplish, do, make} -
    Each of God's servants are admonished to be faithful at the task which He assigns. The worker who allows himself to be distracted, perhaps by discouragement at the littleness of his task, becomes a hindrance to the work. I am called to 'work,' not to waste my energies in comparing my role against that of a co-laborer. The building of the House requires many diverse operations (1Cor 12:4-6). From where I labor, I can see very little of what God is doing. But when His purposes are completed, all of God's servants will rejoice together and give Him all the glory, for what He has accomplished in and through the congregation of His people.
       In this, Jesus is both our example (Joh 9:4) and our Lord (Luk 12:43; Gal 6:8,9).
  3. 'fear' not {HB=yare', afraid} -
    Fear, of opposition and obstacles, tends to weaken our resolve and hinder the work.
       As the work resumed on the Temple, the neighbors, who had previously opposed the project, again went into action. Thirteen years earlier, these enemies had made a successful appeal to Artaxerxes, who had issued a cease and desist order (Ezra ch.4). Now, the enemies sent a similar letter to Darius (who was in his second year as king), reporting the renewed work in violation of the previous decree, and again requesting that the work be stopped (Ezr 5:7-17). From man's perspective, there was reason to be afraid.
       But the LORD is in control. Those who trust Him will not be paralyzed by fear (Isa 41:10-13; Zech 8:13-15). Although they could not foresee the outcome, the LORD was about to turn the heart of the king to favor and further His work (Ezr 6:1-14).
for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts.
Here is the basis upon which these three admonitions rest.
This was the foundation of Solomon's strength as he began to build the Temple (1Chr 28:10,20).
...my Spirit remaineth among you.
In the days of Moses, the LORD's unfailing Presence, had conducted the nation safely into the land, according to His promise (covenant) to them (Ex 3:12; 29:45,46; 33:12-14). Likewise, now also, His Presence would remain {HB='amah, to stand, to take a stand} among {ie., in the midst} of His people (Isa 63:7-14; Zech 4:6).
6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it [is] a little while,
and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry [land];
7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come:
and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.
8 The silver [is] mine, and the gold [is] mine, saith the LORD of hosts.
9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater
than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts:
and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while...
The LORD directs their gaze from their feeble building project, to observe the future completion of His program, in the Millennial Kingdom of the Messiah.
     'Yet once...' {lit., 'Yet one'}. The phrase connotes 'the final end' or 'the last' of a matter (eg., Ex 11:1; 2Chr 18:7). From the perspective of Haggai, and those to whom he spoke, the ultimate fulfillment of God's purposes was a far distant hope. But from God's perspective, it was just 'a little while' (Psa 37:10; Heb 10:37). Today, many, who are watching, can see that the day is rapidly drawing near (Mat 24:42-44; Rom 13:11,12; 1The 5:1-4).
...I will shake... all nations...
When 'the Day of the LORD' comes, His judgment, upon all ungodliness, will cause the earth and all of its inhabitants to tremble. Joel 1:15; 2:1; Zeph 1:7; Acts 2:19-21; Rev 6:12-17
He will overturn the nations and all things that cannot stand before Him, in order to establish His glorious and everlasting Kingdom. Hag 2:21,22; Heb 12:26-28 (which quotes from v.6)
...I will fill this house with glory...
'This House' refers to the Temple on mount Zion in Jerusalem.
     Historically, two or three different buildings have filled that role (the first Temple built by Solomon, and the second Temple built by Zerubbabel and refurbished by Herod). [Herod's rebuilding was so thorough that some regard it as a replacement of Zerubbabel's Temple.]
     Prophetically, two distinct Temple buildings will occupy that position in the future: the Tribulation Temple (which will be defiled by the Antichrist, Rev 11:1,2; 2The 2:3,4) and the Millennial Temple (which is described in detail in Ezekiel ch.40-48). The LORD views all of these buildings as but one House.
     Two kinds of 'glory' are in view.
  1. The external glory of rich adornment, eg., with gold and silver.
    It was the lack of this beauty, as it appears to the eyes, for which the elders grieved (v.3).
  2. The eternal Glory of the living God (usually hidden from the eyes of men).
    This greater Glory is the true value of the Temple. Its manifestation differs in the successive ages.
    • The Shekinah Glory, the visible Presence of the LORD,
      which dwelt above the Mercy Seat upon the Ark of the Covenant, in the Holy of Holies, in the Tabernacle and also in Solomon's Temple. Num 7:89; Psa 80:1; 1Kin 8:11; Isa 37:16
    • The Spiritual Presence of the LORD,
      which He promised to the builders of Zerubbabel's Temple (v.4,5).
      (The Ark of the Covenant, and the Glory that dwelt above it, were no longer present in the days of Haggai, because more than seventy years earlier, the furnishings and vessels of the Temple had been carried away by Babylon, at the time of Judah's captivity.)
    • The Lord Jesus Christ {Israel's Messiah}, at His first coming.
      As an infant He was presented in Herod's Temple (Luk 2:21-32).
      As an adult He presented Himself there as Israel's King, and purged the place. Mat 21:1-13; Joh 1:14,18; Col 2:9; Mal 3:1 (where the first 'messenger' refers to John the Baptist, who was the forerunner of the 'messenger of the covenant,' the Messiah.)
    • The Lord Jesus Christ {Israel's Messiah}, at His second coming.
      • He will come in power and great glory,
        to judge the world and to cleanse the Tribulation Temple of its abomination.
        Mal 3:1,2 (when the forerunner will be a future prophet, like Elijah); Mat 17:10-12; 24:30; 2The 2:1-8
      • He will occupy the Millennial Temple, in His glory as the Great King.
        Eze 43:2-7; Isa 60:13
...the desire {HB=chemdah, desire, precious things, treasure} of all nations shall come... (v.7)
Rabbinic tradition and historic Christian teaching both identify the Messiah as 'the desire of all nations' and the 'glory' of His people. Certainly, His Presence is the true Glory of the Temple (as noted in the bullet points above). He is the One that the nations should desire, because 'in Him is life' and His Gospel is the 'power of God unto salvation unto everyone that believeth' (Joh 1:4; 5:39,40; Rom 1:16).
     But do the nations desire Him? No. Like Israel, the nations presently reject the One who came in His Father's name, even as they seek for a man to save the world from self-destruction. As the Day of the LORD opens, Israel and the world will receive the Antichrist as their Messiah and Savior (Joh 5:43; 2The 2:8-10).
     But Christ will return, 'in power and great glory' to shake the nations in judgment. After that, the survivors, from the Great Tribulation, recognizing Him for who He is, will bring the 'glory of the nations' to worship Him in Jerusalem.
     Then, the 'treasure' and 'precious things' of the nations 'shall come' (in v.7, this verb is plural), to beautify the Temple (Isa 60:5-13; Mic 4:1-3; Rev 21:24,26).
The silver is mine, and the gold is mine...
The treasures of the nations belong to God. The nations had robbed Solomon's Temple of its precious things. But when the time is right, the LORD will cause the nations to contribute their treasures toward the completion of the Millennial Temple.
...the glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former.
This line can be rendered: "...the latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former [glory]." This wording is more consistent with the LORD's view, that there is but one House on mount Zion.
     The workers wept for the poverty of their project, as they built Zerubbabel's Temple. The LORD assures them that, when He completes His House, it will be far more glorious than Solomon's Temple in all of its splendor.
     Yet, His next words reveal that this glory will greatly exceed the value of all of the world's treasures.
...and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.
'Peace' {HB=shalom, completeness, welfare, health} is much more than the end of wars. But that is one aspect of peace for which mankind has struggled, at great cost, and to no avail. Neither diplomacy, nor 'wars to end all wars,' have brought peace. The heart of the problem is the sinful heart of man (Jam 4:1). The source of true and lasting peace is the LORD (Psa 46:8,9; Isa 57:19-21).
     Consider man's vain attempts at securing peace 'in this place' (ie., mount Zion in Jerusalem). The LORD says that Jerusalem will become 'a cup of trembling' to all nations (Zech 12:2,3), before the coming of the Prince of Peace. True peace cannot be generated by men. It must be 'given' by God.
     As Haggai wrote, the giving of that peace was entirely future. But since Haggai's day, the LORD has laid the Foundation and established His Peace. The full glory of that Peace will soon be seen. Consider:
  • God sent His Son, to bring Glory to God, and Peace on Earth. Luk 2:10-14
  • God gave His Son, as the sufficient sacrifice to take away the sins of men. Joh 1:29; Col 1:19-22
    Christ died for us, on the outskirts of 'this place' (just outside the city wall of Jerusalem).
    Through faith in Him, believers presently possess: Christ is the Foundation of this Peace, and He is the present source of Peace for all who know Him (Isa 28:16; 1Pet 2:6-9). But the unbelieving world does not yet know Him or His Peace.
  • God will establish His Son, as the Great King who will rule the world, with righteousness, from Jerusalem. Isa 9:6,7; 32:17; Zech 9:9,10
10. In the four and twentieth [day] of the ninth [month],
in the second year of Darius,
came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,
11 Thus saith the LORD of hosts;
Ask now the priests [concerning] the law, saying,
12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment,
and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat,
shall it be holy?
And the priests answered and said, No.
13 Then said Haggai,
If [one that is] unclean by a dead body touch any of these,
shall it be unclean?
And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean.
14 Then answered Haggai, and said,
So [is] this people, and so [is] this nation before me, saith the LORD;
and so [is] every work of their hands;
and that which they offer there [is] unclean.
In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month...
This message came two months (and a few days) after the previous message (concerning the Glory of God's House, v.1-9), and about one month after the LORD had begun to speak through Zechariah (Zech 1:1).
The theme of this message is "The LORD blesses only that which is Holy."
For something to be 'Holy' {HB=qodesh, apartness, holiness, sacredness, separatedness} it must be fully consecrated to God and His purposes, without being tainted by common or profane things.
     Haggai was instructed to pose two questions which would illustrate the meaning of holiness for the people.
...Ask now the priests concerning the law...
The priests were familiar with the holy things used in the Temple worship. But they were to be careful to answer these questions "according to the Law" (ie., the written Word of God).
Question #1 (v.12)
'Can holy things transfer holiness to things that are unholy?' Answer: No.
The meat offered on the altar was holy. It was to be handled and consumed only by those who were holy. Extreme care was to be taken to prevent contact of the holy with the unholy (Lev 6:25-30, where v.27a is a stipulation that only holy persons and holy implements are allowed to handle the holy meat).
     Just as clean water cannot purify dirty water, so, holy things cannot purify profane things on contact.
Question #2 (v.13)
'Can unholy things transfer unholiness to holy things?' Answer: Yes.
     Their answer would have rested on passages like: Lev 22:1-6; Num 19:11-13
     Just as dirty water contaminates pure water, so, unclean things make holy things unclean on contact.
     The NT also provides examples of the separation of true holiness:
  • Ritually clean hands do not purify an unclean heart (Mat 15:18-20, with Jer 17:9).
  • True and false spiritual leaders can be distinguished by their fruit (Mat 7:15-20).
  • The expression of a man's tongue ought to be either sweet or bitter, not both (Jam 3:8-12).
So is this people and... nation... every work of their hands... that which they offer... unclean.
This is the application of the lesson about holiness.
     The people who had returned from Babylon had done good things with their hands. They had even worked with holy things, as they built the altar, and laid the foundation of the Temple. But these good things were not 'holiness unto the LORD' because their hearts were not right with Him. The holy things which they had touched had not made them holy.
     They had presented offerings upon the altar, even as they neglected God's work. But their offerings were not acceptable, because their hearts were far from God (Mat 15:8). "Sacrifices, however holy in themselves, cannot sanctify disobedience and self-will." [GWms]
     In Haggai's first message (about 4 months before this message), the LORD had identified the disobedience and self-will which had characterized the returned remnant (Hag 1:2-5).
     In Zechariah's first message (about one month before the present message through Haggai, v.10-f), the LORD had reminded Israel of the uncleanness of prior generations and of the consequent chastening of the nation (Zech 1:1-6).
     Now, Haggai echoes God's Word through Zechariah, to remind the returned remnant that they themselves had been following the unclean ways of their forefathers, up until the time that they had turned in obedience to follow the LORD's way.
15 And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward,
from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the LORD:
16 Since those [days] were,
when [one] came to an heap of twenty [measures], there were [but] ten:
when [one] came to the pressfat
for to draw out fifty [vessels] out of the press, there were [but] twenty.
17 I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail
in all the labours of your hands;
yet ye [turned] not to me, saith the LORD.
18 Consider now from this day and upward,
from the four and twentieth day of the ninth [month,
even] from the day that the foundation of the LORD'S temple was laid, consider [it].
19 Is the seed yet in the barn?
yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate,
and the olive tree, hath not brought forth:
from this day will I bless [you].
...consider {ie., take to heart} from this day and upward...
This phrase occurs in v.15 and again in v.18, with two different things in view.
They were to...
  • Look back at: His chastening of their unholy hearts and hands (v.15-17).
    While they were following their self-centered ways, the LORD could not bless them because their hearts were not right before Him. He reminds them that their shortfall, during that time, was due to His chastening (Hag 1:4-7).
  • Look forward to: His blessing upon their holiness (v.18,19).
    They had turned in obedience, from seeking their own things, to obey the LORD's will.
    As they set themselves apart to build the LORD's House, He was pleased and glorified (1:8).
    Therefore, He was about to bless them abundantly. They were to take to heart His promise, and make preparations to receive an abundant harvest (v.19; Deu 28:1-10; Zech 8:11-15).
         Beware of claiming this promise of abundance for yourself, today. The LORD was speaking to a specific group of people, at a specific point in history. Many of God's people have endured terrible times, as they looked in faith toward a future time of blessing (Hab 3:17,18; Heb 11:1,13-16,36-40). The LORD's promises are sure. But many of His promises pertain to the yet future day, which is the subject of Haggai's final message...
20. And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai
in the four and twentieth [day] of the month, saying,
21 Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah,
saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth;
22 And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms,
and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen;
and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them;
and the horses and their riders shall come down,
every one by the sword of his brother.
23 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee,
O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD,
and will make thee as a signet:
for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.
...in the four and twentieth day of the month...
This message came on the same day as the previous message, which pertained to God's blessing upon His holy people (those whose hearts belong to Him).
Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah...
The message would be overheard by the people, but it was directed to Zerubbabel, who as the appointed governor of Jerusalem, and as a descendant of David, is a type (or picture) of the Messiah, who will reign from David's throne for ever. The promises which Zerubbabel received, as a representative of the Messiah, would not be fulfilled in his lifetime.
...saying, I will shake... overthrow... destroy... overthrow... (v.22)
Looking to the future Great Tribulation (the time of Jacob's Trouble), the LORD promises that He is going to overthrow the political and military power of the Gentile nations (Eze 21:27; Dan 2:44,45). The vivid description of the destruction of enemy soldiers and their weapons looks to the final battle of the ages (at Armageddon, Eze 39:17-20; Rev 19:17-21).
...in that day, saith the LORD of hosts...
The promise is emphatically sure, resting upon the LORD's prophetic affirmation ('saith the LORD' occurs three times in v.23).
...I will take thee, O Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel...
Zerubbabel was a grandson of Jehoiachin (also called Jeconiah or Coniah). He is of the house and lineage of David, in the line of the Davidic kings. His name appears in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ, in Mat 1:12. This genealogy traces the line from Abraham, through David and his son Solomon, to Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus. This genealogy shows that Jesus has a legal right to David's throne. However, because of king Jeconiah's sin, the LORD declared that none of his descendants would occupy David's throne (Jer 22:28-30). Therefore, Jesus would not be eligible for the throne, if He was physically descended through this line.
     Another genealogy, of Jesus, in Luke's Gospel, traces His physical descendancy from Adam, through Abraham, through David and his son Nathan, and through Mary, who gave birth to Jesus while she was still a virgin. Joseph, the son of Jacob (Mat 1:16), was the 'son-in-law' of Heli (Luk 3:23). This genealogy demonstrates that Jesus is a true man (descended from Adam), a true Jew (descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), and a true son of David (but not through Jeconiah) and therefore, eligible for the Davidic throne. [Note: Luke's genealogy also includes a 'Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel' (Salathiel, Luk 3:27). That this refers to a different Zerubbabel is evident, because his father, Shieltiel, was not a descendant of king Jeconiah.]
     In effect, the LORD was addressing the Messiah, Jesus, through His ancestor Zerubbabel, who as His representative, was receiving a prophetic message which will be fulfilled "in that day."
...saith the LORD, I will make {ie., place, set, establish} thee as a signet...
A king's signet ring symbolized his authority, for with it he sealed his written decrees, lest they should be altered. (Examples, Gen 41:42; Esther 3:8-10; 8:7-10).
     Zerubbabel's authority, as governor, was symbolic of the authority of Christ, who will come forth "to be ruler in Israel" (Mic 5:2). Likewise, the crowning of Joshua the high priest (Zerubbabel's coworker, Hag 1:1) was symbolic of Christ, who as High Priest, will build {establish} the LORD's House, and reign upon His throne. (See Zech 3:1-10; 6:9-15. See also Zech 4:6-14, where these two men, together, picture the anointed Priest-King who will finish the LORD's House.)
     The authority to reign as King was taken from Jeconiah and his line (Jer 22:24). It will be given to the Messiah (foreshadowed, here, by Zerubbabel), 'in that day' when He comes to judge the nations (v.22,23). As the LORD's signet, He possesses all power and authority. Dan 7:13,14; cp. Mat 28:18; Eph 1:20-23
...for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.
Though Israel and the nations rejected the Messiah, at His first coming, the LORD has chosen Him to accomplish His purposes on the earth. When He comes again, He will bring those purposes to completion. Isa 42:1-4 (quoted in Mat 12:18-21); Isa 49:1-8; Jer 23:5-8; Luk 1:30-33

This concludes the study in Haggai.
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