\ Bible Commentary - Haggai 2
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Haggai 2

Hag 2:1

Vv 1-9: Second message: The temple to be filled with glory.

THE TWENTY-FIRST DAY OF THE SEVENTH MONTH: God revealed another message to Haggai almost one month later, on the twenty-first day of the seventh month (Tishri, modern October 17) of the same year, 520 BC. This was the last day of the feast of Tabernacles (Booths). Tishri was a month of feasts for the Israelites. On the first of this month they celebrated the feast of Trumpets, and on the tenth, the day of Atonement. The feast of Tabernacles lasted seven days, and the following day was a day of rest (Lev 23:33-44).

Hag 2:3

WHO OF YOU IS LEFT WHO SAW THIS HOUSE IN ITS FORMER GLORY?: Solomon's temple had been destroyed about 66 years earlier.

HOW DOES IT LOOK TO YOU NOW? DOES IT NOT SEEM TO YOU LIKE NOTHING?: Cp Zec 4:10: it was a "day of small things". God's three questions forced the people to admit that the present temple was not as grand as the former one had been. (The older returnees had made a similar negative comparison when the foundation of the temple was laid 16 years earlier in 536 BC: Ezra 3:8-13).

There is a tendency to deprecate a humble work, and this can be quite discouraging to those who are doing their best under perhaps difficult circumstances. It is at such a time that looking to the future, and the hope of a reward -- even for humble work done in humble circumstances -- can be a great encouragement.

Hag 2:4

BUT NOW BE STRONG... FOR I AM WITH YOU: The LORD again encouraged Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people to work, and He promised again to be with them (cp Hag 1:13). David had given the same charge and promise to Solomon regarding the first temple (1Ch 28:10,20). Comparisons can be discouraging when doing the Lord's work, so people involved in it need to remind themselves that He is with them (cp Mat 28:20). Samaritan opposition (Ezra 4:4,5), the decrees of kings (Ezra 4:23,24), and depression and discouragement (Ezra 3:12) all will fail in the face of Almighty Power. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Rom 8:31; cp Heb 13:6; Isa 54:17).

Hag 2:5

THIS IS WHAT I COVENANTED WITH YOU WHEN YOU CAME OUT OF EGYPT. AND MY SPIRIT REMAINS AMONG YOU. DO NOT FEAR: God reiterated the promise He had made to the Israelites when they left Egypt in the Exodus. His Spirit would stay in their midst so they need not fear (cp Exo 19:4-6; 33:14; Psa 105:8-10; Gen 12:2; Deu 8:18). The returnees could identify with their forefathers who departed from Egypt because they had recently departed from another captivity in Babylon.

"There must have been those who were theologically naive and doubted that God could be with them if the temple and the ark in particular were not intact.

"Undoubtedly fear gripped many of the returnees -- fear that God had written an eternal 'Ichabod' over Jerusalem, fear that no amount of praying or piety would induce him to bless them again, fear that the whole endeavor was in vain, fear that the political enemies would in fact win, fear that all was lost" (EBC).

Hag 2:6

IN A LITTLE WHILE I WILL ONCE MORE SHAKE THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH: The basis of their confidence and lack of fear was a promise from Almighty Yahweh. He would do again in the future what He had done at the Exodus and at Mt Sinai (Exo 19:16; Psa 68:8; 77:16-18). Shaking the heavens and the earth describes an earthquake, which was an evidence of the LORD's supernatural intervention (cp Isa 2:12-21; 13:13; Eze 38:20; Amos 8:8). This will occur when Christ returns to the earth (Joel 3:16; Mat 24:29-30).

The writer of Hebrews quoted this verse in Heb 12:26. Such a shaking will remove those things which are temporary, so that those things which are permanent only will remain (cp Isa 51:6; 65:17,18). He then added that we who are in Christ have an unshakable kingdom that will endure the coming great earthquake (Heb 12:28,29). Haggai's prophecy still awaits fulfillment.

Generally, see Lesson, Earthquakes.

THE SEA AND THE DRY LAND: While heaven and earth relate to Israel here, the sea and the dry land relate to the Gentile nations (cp Isa 57:20; Dan 7:2,3; Rev 13:1). Thus all nations, Gentile as well as Jewish, will be shaken in the great day of the LORD (v 7).

Hag 2:7

I WILL SHAKE ALL NATIONS: His return will upset the political and governmental structures in the world (cp Zec 14:1-4; Zep 3:8). Such "earthquakes" will be both literal and figurative (Isa 2:12,19; Rev 16:18). The nations would bring their wealth to the Israelites, like the Egyptians gave their treasures to the departing Hebrews at the Exodus (cp Exo 3:21,22; 11:2,3; 12:35,36).

THE DESIRED OF ALL NATIONS WILL COME: Some English translations have "the desire of all nations will come." This "desire" could be (a) an impersonal reference to the wealth that the nations desire (cp Isa 60:5; Zec 14:14; see Ezra 6:8-12; 7:12-26, 2Ma 3:3; and Mat 2:1-11 for other past instances of wealth coming to Israel from the nations); or (b) it could be a personal reference. In this case it could be a messianic prophecy, which is why some translations capitalize "Desire." (JT translates: "Excellency".) The Heb does not solve the problem, which is interpretive. Perhaps the LORD was deliberately ambiguous and had both things in mind.

I WILL FILL THIS HOUSE WITH GLORY: The temple in view must be the millennial temple (Isa 56:7) rather than the second (restoration) temple in view of the context. This glory could be the wealth that the nations will bring to it (cp Isa 60:7,13). Or the glory in view may be the glory of God's own presence (cp Exo 40:34,35; 1Ki 8:10,11; Eze 43:1-12). Simeon referred to the infant Jesus as "the glory of your people Israel" (Luke 2:32). However, Jesus' presence in Herod's temple only prefigured the glory that will be present in so much greater degree, in the millennial temple, with a glorified Christ and all his saints in attendance.

Hag 2:8

THE SILVER IS MINE AND THE GOLD IS MINE: This seems to support the view that impersonal wealth is in view in v 7. The Lord reminded the people that He controlled all the silver and gold in the world, so He could cause the nations to bring it to the temple in the future. (This reminder would have encouraged Haggai's contemporaries as they rebuilt the temple as well. God could bring more financial resources to them so they could glorify their presently modest temple.)

On the other hand, "gold" and "silver" could refer to the saints, created in faith and redemption through Christ himself: cp 1Pe 1:7,18,19; Mal 3:17.

Hag 2:9

THE GLORY OF THIS PRESENT HOUSE WILL BE GREATER THAN THE GLORY OF THE FORMER HOUSE: Even though the present temple was less glorious than Solomon's temple, God promised that the final glory of the future temple (which may be seen as an "extension" of the present one!) would be greater than its former glory. Also, the Shekinah Glory will be present in the future, while it was not present in the second temple. Jesus Christ's adornment by his presence of the second temple (as renovated by the despicable Herod the Great) hardly seems to fulfill the exalted promises in this prophecy.

AND IN THIS PLACE I WILL GRANT PEACE: The LORD also promised to bring peace to the site of the temple, Jerusalem. Neither of these things has happened yet, so the fulfillment must be millennial. Lasting peace will only come when Messiah returns to rule and reign (cp Isa 2:4; 9:6; Zec 9:9,10). The peace he will bring will also be the spiritual "peace" or "shalom" of reconciliation and unity with God (cp Psa 85:8,9; Jer 3:16-18; Psa 122).

Hag 2:10

Vv 10-19: Third message: a defiled people purified and blessed.

THE TWENTY-FOURTH DAY OF THE NINTH MONTH: Kislev 24, or Dec 18. During the two months between this prophecy and the former one (vv 1-9), Zechariah began his ministry in Jerusalem (Zec 1:1).

Hag 2:11

Vv 11,12: The priests were the official interpreters of the Mosaic Law, and what follows deals with matters of ceremonial defilement. The question was, if someone carries consecrated food in his garment and touches other food of any kind with the garment, will that food become holy? Holy meat was meat set apart for a particular sacrificial purpose (cp Lev 6:25; Num 6:20). The answer was: 'No, it would not become holy.' The meat carried in the garment would make the garment holy, but the holiness would not be communicated beyond the garment to anything else (cp Exo 29:37; Lev 6:27; Eze 44:19; Mat 23:19). The people were apparently thinking that since they were working on the holy temple all that they contacted and did became holy. Another view is that the LORD sought to discourage His people from taking gifts from pagan rulers and using them to build the temple (cp Ezra 6:8-10).

Hag 2:13

V 13: A second question: if someone who has become unclean, for example by touching a corpse, touches food of any kind, will the food become unclean (cp Lev 22:4-6; Num 19:11-16)? The answer was: 'Yes, it would become unclean.' The lesson: it is far easier to become defiled than to become clean! This emphasizes the need for spiritual separation (ie, from the Samaritan and other Gentile influences).

Hag 2:14

SO IT IS WITH THIS PEOPLE AND THIS NATION IN MY SIGHT... WHATEVER THEY DO AND WHATEVER THEY OFFER THERE IS DEFILED: Their sacrifices of the people were unacceptable to God because they were unclean. They should not think that contact with something holy, such as the temple they were working to complete, made them acceptable to God. They had previously been unclean, so their present sacrifices were unacceptable to God. Mere formality of service is not enough; there must be keen self-examination, and sincere desire to do the will of God!

Hag 2:15

Vv 15,16: The people needed to give careful consideration to something again (cp Hag 1:5,7). They needed to remember that before they began to obey the Lord by rebuilding the temple (Hag 1:12) they had been disobedient to the Mosaic Covenant (cp Hag 1:5-11). The Lord's punishment for their covenant unfaithfulness had been greatly reduced harvests. Their grains had decreased by 50% and their grapes by 60%.

Hag 2:17

I STRUCK ALL THE WORK OF YOUR HANDS WITH BLIGHT, MILDEW AND HAIL, YET YOU DID NOT TURN TO ME: Yahweh had used hot winds, mildew, and hail to smite the people and what they had planted, but they still did not repent (cp Amos 4:9).

Hag 2:18

Vv 18,19: "The people were to notice something on the day this prophecy reached their ears, the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. They were to notice that from the day they started to rebuild the temple, their hardships had continued (cp Hag 1:14,15). They still suffered shortages of staples such as seed, grapes, and olives, and luxuries such as figs and pomegranates. However, the LORD revealed that He would now bless them, beginning that very day!

"This oracle explained why agricultural blessing had not begun immediately after the people resumed reconstruction on the temple. Their present dedication and obedience did not wipe out their previous covenant unfaithfulness and its punishments. That punishment had to run its course, but now, as of the day of this prophecy, God would begin to bless the people with better harvests.

"God will bless His people for their obedience, but sometimes He will not erase the punishment that previous sins have made necessary. Sin always brings death (Rom 6:23). Sometimes that punishment must run its course before blessing can begin" (Const).

Hag 2:20

Vv 20-23: Fourth message: the promise to Zerubbabel.

Hag 2:21

A repetition of the promise of v 6 -- given this time to Zerubbabel esp.

Hag 2:22

I WILL OVERTURN ROYAL THRONES AND SHATTER THE POWER OF THE FOREIGN KINGDOMS. I WILL OVERTHROW CHARIOTS AND THEIR DRIVERS; HORSES AND THEIR RIDERS WILL FALL: The Lord announced that He was going to overthrow the rulers of the nations of the earth (cp Dan 2:34,35,44,45; Zec 14:1-5; Rev 16:16-18; 19:11-21).

EACH BY THE SWORD OF HIS BROTHER: He would defeat their armies by turning them against each other (cp Hab 3:14; Zec 12:2-9; 14:13; Eze 38:19-23).

Hag 2:23

ON THAT DAY... I WILL TAKE YOU, MY SERVANT ZERUBBABEL: When He did that, God promised to make Zerubbabel His servant. The title "my servant" is often messianic in the OT (cp 1Sa 3:18; 1Ki 11:34; Isa 42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; 52:13 -- 53:12; Eze 34:23,24; 37:24,25). (Zechariah, Haggai's contemporary, used another messianic title to refer to Zerubbabel: the "Branch": Zec 3:8; 6:12; cp Isa 11:1; Jer 23:5,6; 33:14-16.)

I WILL MAKE YOU LIKE MY SIGNET RING: A signet ring was what kings used to designate royal authority and personal ownership (cp 1Ki 21:8; Dan 6:17; Est 8:8). Jeconiah had been so wicked that Jeremiah had told him that the signet ring would be taken from him and given to Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 22:24). But now Zerubbabel would be God's personal stamp of approval on the nation of Israel.

In this blessing the prince typified the coming Messiah (as did Joshua the High Priest in Zec 6:9-15). The ultimate victory promised in vv 21,22 would come not through Zerubbabel personally but through one of his descendants, namely Jesus Christ (cp Mat 1:21).
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