In chapter two, we have three messages from the word of the Lord by Haggai to Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the remnant of the people for their encouragement in restoring the temple. They are told the temple they are building will in respect to the spiritual will exceed that of Solomon’s temple. In the second message, Haggai will assure Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the remnant of the people though their sin in delaying the restoration of the temple had a negative effect on their lives, now that they are restoring the temple the Lord will bless them and give success in what they are doing. In the third message, Haggai assures Zerubbabel that as a reward for his pious zeal and activity, he will be a favorite of heaven and one of the ancestors of Messiah the Prince whose kingdom will be set in the ruins of all opposing powers.
Verse one – three – “On the twenty-first day of the seventh month,” the last day of the feast of Tabernacles, “the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet saying, speak now to Zerubbabel….and to Joshua….and to the remnant of the people saying, ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison?”
It is possible there were among the workers restoring the temple men who saw Solomon’s temple in all its glory. They had to admit there would be no comparison between the restored temple and the temple dedicated by Solomon some four hundred and forty years earlier at the feast of Tabernacles (1st King 8:2). A similar comparison was made when the foundation of the temple was laid about 15 years earlier (Ezra 3:8-13).
When comparisons are made we need to remember God’s view of what we do is not the same as man’s view (Zechariah 8:6; 1st Samuel 16:7). We need to remember when we do something that is pleasing in the sight of God our pride will not let us be satisfied with what we have accomplished unless it meets the standards of those whose abilities exceed ours. This comparison can have a discouraging effect. The Lord through Haggai tells Zerubbabel, Joshua, and all the people of the land:
Verse four – “But now take courage…and work”
It is true; from the viewpoint of man, Zerubbabel’s temple will be inferior to Solomon’s temple. But Zerubbabel and Joshua must not let this discourage them. If they are discouraged, it will affect the attitude of the people who are doing their best to restore the temple. We may think our best is not enough, but our best is all the Lord asks of us. If those who are overseeing the restoration project have a good attitude about the project, the worker will have a good attitude. The encouragement needed in the restoration of the temple, in doing the will of the Lord is the advice given to Zerubbabel:
Verse four – “I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts.”
The Lord of hosts made this same promise in chapter one verse thirteen. The presence of the Lord overcomes fears, disappointments, and discouragement. When we are in the dark days of life it is the presence of the Lord that turns the night into day. The people who were restoring the temple had hundreds opposing them, but they had the Lord of hosts with them. He will fight for them and intercede for them. If the Lord is for us, who can be against us? The extent of the presence of the Lord is revealed in verse five.
Verse five – “As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst, do not fear.”
Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the remnant of the people have nothing to fear. They have the Lord of hosts on their side, His Spirit is abiding in their midst, and He will keep the promises He made when Israel came out of Egypt. Although the Lord has punished them for their transgressions the promises He made when they came out of Egypt were not nullified. The Lord dwells among His people by His Spirit, even though His Spirit is often grieved and provoked to withdraw from them for a season, He is now with them. It was the Spirit of the Lord of hosts that stirred up their spirits to come out of Babylon (Ezra 1:5). It was the Spirit of the Lord of hosts that stirred up the spirits of the people to resume the restoration of the temple (Haggai 1:14). Although the Lord is going to “Once more…shake the heavens and earth, the sea…and the dry land” Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people have nothing to fear. The Lord is going to do what He did when He brought His people out of Egypt.
Haggai tells them:
Verse six – “Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land.”
The Lord of hosts is going to do what He did when He brought them out of Egypt to Mount Sinai where He shook the heavens and earth with thunder, lightning and earthquakes. This shall be done again when at the sufferings of Christ, the sun will be darkened, the veil of the temple torn into from top to bottom, the earth will shake and rocks split. Tombs will be opened and many of the saints who have fallen asleep (died) will be raised from their sleep and coming out of the tombs after the resurrection of Christ and will enter Jerusalem and appear to many (Matthew 27:51-53).
The Lord said:
Verse seven – “I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts”
This may be a reference to Zerubbabel’s temple and the additions made to it by Herod and the peace the Son will make with the Father on the cross or the peace Christ will bring to the world at His second coming. This is why the people must not be discouraged because this temple will lack the gold, silver, and precious stones that were in Solomon’s temple. These were a symbol of the glory that will come to this temple.
In verse eight the Lord of hosts tells the people why they shouldn’t let the lack of gold, silver, and precious stones in the temple discourage them.
Verse eight – “The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine, declares the Lord of hosts.”
Who owns all the riches of this world? He allows us to use them. He becomes very upset when we misuse them. God does not need gold and silver to adorn His temple. When gold and silver are used to adorn God’s temple the builders are using what is God’s. David admitted this when he and his princes offered vast sums of gold and silver for the building of the temple. He said, “all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You…all this abundance that we have provided to build You a house for Your holy name, it is from Your hand, and all is Yours” 1st Chronicles 29:14,16).
If we have gold and silver, we must serve and honor God with them, for they are His. He has given them to us for our use, but they remain His. If we do not have gold and silver and we serve and honor God with what we have He will accept us. God does not need our gold and silver, it is already His. He wants our love and what we offer Him is a reflection of that love. The Lord of hosts is telling the people who are giving their best to the Lord, if He wants gold, silver, and precious stones adoring His house He will provide them.
Haggai closes this message with the following:
Verse nine – “The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts, and in this place I shall give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.”
The Jews admitted something was missing from the temple, the fire from heaven, the ark, the Urim and Thummim, and the Schechinah. If these are missing how can this temple exceed Solomon’s temple, the presence of the Messiah, the Son of God will be in it. Here the glory of the Lord of hosts was found in the temple when He was twelve years old. Years later, He will teach and perform miracles in the temple area. He will drive out those who were making His Father’s house a den of thieves.
It was necessary the temple be restored because here was where the Messiah would come. When He was rejected, the Romans destroyed the temple. From the departure of the Messiah to the present there has been no peace in Judah and Jerusalem. But the Lord of hosts said He will establish peace in this place. Who will establish peace in this place? The nations of the world, how can they establish peace in this place when they cannot establish peace among themselves? The One who will establish an everlasting peace in this place is the promised Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse ten – “On the twenty-fourth of the ninth month in the second year of Darius,” Haggai received the second of three messages from the Lord. This message was given to Haggai when the people were working on the restoration of the temple. There were workers whose hearts and hands were unclean. Haggai is sent to the priests for a ruling on the law dealing with the difference between the clean and unclean. He asks the priests two questions.
Verse twelve – “If a man carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and touches bread with this fold, or cooked food, wine, oil, or any other food, will it become holy?”
Although Haggai is, a prophet ordained by the Lord, his ministry is speaking to the people for the Lord and give directions concerning the duties to be performed by the civil and religious leaders and all the people in the land. It was the duty of the priest to speak to the Lord on behalf of the people, teach the people the general meanings of the ordinances of the Lord and to give them general rules for the observances of the ordinances of the Lord. It is possible Haggai was sent to the priests so that out of their mouths he might judge both the acts of the priests as well as the people whose hearts and hands were unclean.
The priests’ answer to Haggai’s question was “No” (v. 12). The rule is, if a man has meat meant for a sacrifice touches other things they will not be made holy. Even though the garment is made a dedicated thing it is not to be put to a common use till it had been washed in the holy place (Levities 6:27). But it cannot transmit holiness to other things.
Verse thirteen – “Then Haggai said, ‘If one who is unclean from a corpse touches any of these, will the latter become unclean?’ And the priests answered and said, ‘It will become unclean.’”
The touching of a corpse made a person ceremonial unclean. Whatever a ceremonial unclean person touches becomes unclean (Numbers 19:22). These rules clearly state pollution is easier transmitted than holiness. It is important people realize living good moral lifestyles is not the way to find favor in God’s eyes. They may find favor in the eyes of men. Finding favor in the eyes of the Lord requires a clean heart and hands. Dwelling on the unclean of this life will defile the heart. Touching the unclean things of this life will defile them. Therefore, it is important they keep at a distance from it. When we come into the presence of the Lord, we must have a clean heart and clean hands. The holy eyes of the Lord cannot look on unclean things or tolerate them.
Haggai answers the priests and said:
Verse fourteen – “So is this people. And so is this nation before Me’ declares the Lord, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.’”
The Lord does not call the people and nation His people and nation. They were unworthy to be called His. They thought their offering sacrifices on the altar would sanctify them and excuse their neglect to build the temple and remove the curse that the neglect has brought upon them. The Lord said their contempt of God’s temple would bring pollution upon their common enjoyments and their sacrifices. Though they work hard, building the temple and offer costly sacrifices on the altar this will not sanctify their meat and drink. They will find no comfort in the works of their hands. The impurity of the heart and life make what good a person does unclean and an abomination to the Lord. The reason for the drought and famine was the neglect of restoring the temple. Now that they have returned to the restoring of the temple Haggai tells them:
Verses fifteen and sixteen – “Consider from this day onward: before one stone was placed on another in the temple of the Lord, from that time when one came to a grain heap of twenty measures, there would be only ten; and one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures there would be only twenty.”
Haggai tells the people to retrace the past and compare what evils came upon them before they began the work of laying the temple upon the foundation that was built when the exiles first came to Jerusalem. Now that they have begun the restoration of the temple, the Lord will bless them. They have suffered the consequence of disobedience now they will enjoy the blessing of obedience. They must be careful not to fall into the indifference that brought the judgment of the Lord upon them.
In the past, the Lord dealt with the people visibly through the weather. He said:
Verse seventeen – “I smote you and every work of your hands with blasting winds, mildew, and hail; yet you did not come back to Me.”
While the people were ignoring the restoration of the temple it was foolishness to think the Lord would take care of them. When the Lord was not doing what the people thought He should be doing and what He promised He would do it should have been a sign they were out of step with the Lord. These people were like many people today. Either they do not see the hand of the Lord in the situation they are in or they do not see their disobedience as the source of the situation. This is why Haggai told the people to consider their ways. They need to see when they neglected the restoration of the temple they moved backward.
Now that they are working to restore the temple they will find they will move toward the Lord and not away from Him and He will bless them. When people begin to change their ways the Lord will bless instead of punishing. As they move closer to the Lord, they will find a remarkable change to the better in all their affairs.
Through Haggai, the Lord asks:
Verse nineteen – “Is the seed still in the barn? Even including the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree, it has not borne fruit. Yet from this day on I will bless you.”
The seed is in the barn, it has not been sown. There are no buds on the fruit trees. There is no fruit on the vines. There is no evidence this crop will be better than the previous crops. However, the Lord says, “From this day I will bless you.” This will be the best day of your life. On this day you can mark it as the return of your prosperity. You shall recover all your losses. The Lord does not wait to the time of harvest to tell the people they will have a good return on what they have planted and the trees and vines will produce. He tells them in advance.
After Haggai’s sermon to the people he is told to:
Verse twenty – “Speak to Zerubbabel governor of Judah, saying, ‘I am going to shake the heavens and earth.”
This word from the word of the Lord is directed particularly to Zerubbabel, who has thoughts in his head far beyond those of the common people. They are concerned about their grain fields and vineyards. Zerubbabel is concerned about the community and its interests, about the neighboring nations, the revolutions of their governments, and the few and weak exiles and how the predicted changes will effect them. How can he protect his people? He has no army. The Lord tells Haggai to “Go to him and tell him it shall be well with him and his people. He will hear of great commotions in the nations. He must not let this surprise him. This universal unrest is to be expected in a world that is like a sea and a wheel, constantly moving and sometimes in a special turbulence. In these instances, the proud oppressors will be broken and brought down. It will not happen through the efforts or strength of man. The Lord said:
Verse twenty-two – “I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariots and their riders, and the horses and their riders will go down, everyone by the sword of another.” The Lord will stir-up the hearts of the leaders of the nations and He will use them to bring each other down. The Babylonian Empire was a great kingdom of the earth; it was overthrown brought down by the Persians, who will also be brought down. The strength of these kingdoms will be destroyed and only one will remain standing, the kingdom of the Lord.
The kingdoms of this world trust in chariots and mounted warriors, but they shall be overthrown and will not be able to attack the people of God. They will not escape the judgments of the Lord. This seems to be a reference to Christ’s victory over the powers of darkness, His overthrow of Satan’s kingdom. The throne of kingdoms is a reference to the throne of the god of this world. It will be taken from him. In addition, Christ shall put down all the opposing rule, principality, and power.