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Bible Commentaries
Haggai 2

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-9


The Third Address

Over a month later, after a good deal of work had been done, the prophet delivered his third message. He is commanded to speak to the same company, headed by Zerubbabel and Joshua; but here the remnant of the people, the exiles who had returned, is also included. If we consult Ezra 3:12 we find that many old men, who had seen the temple of Solomon, burst out in weeping when the small foundation was laid for the new temple. A similar feeling possessed the people when they resumed the temple work after Haggai’s first message. In comparison with the former temple, so grand and glorious, the new temple was a feeble and insignificant affair. The prophet begins his message by asking, “Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory, and how do you see it now? Is it not in your eyes as nothing?” No doubt there was additional weeping when the prophet asked these questions.

Haggai then becomes the prophet of comfort and of hope. “Yet now be strong” is in literal translation, “And now be comforted, O Zerubbabel, saith Jehovah; be comforted all the people of the land, saith Jehovah; for I am with you saith the LORD of Hosts.” They were discouraged on account of the smallness of their cause. It is then when the Lord delights to comfort and to cheer his trusting people. He was with His people, though now no longer a mighty host as of old, but only a small remnant; yet He had not forgotten the Word which He covenanted with them, when He brought them out of Egypt with an outstretched arm. “My Spirit abideth among you; fear ye not.” And that should be enough. His Spirit was dwelling with them to execute His work, and be their strength. The gift of the Spirit in New Testament times is something greater than this. After the finished work of our Lord and His glorification, the third Person of the Godhead came in person to indwell every member of the Body of Christ.

Habakkuk 1:6-9 contain the great prophecy concerning the future. It takes us beyond the time of Haggai, past this present age, and puts before our hearts the same great and glorious day when Christ comes again, when there shall be greater glory and peace. The question is, who is the desire of all nations? It merits a closer examination, for the critics have labored to explain away the Messianic meaning of this sentence and rob it of its true meaning. For instance, Canon Driver, in The New Century Bible makes the following comment: “The desirable things of all nations shall come, i.e., their costly treasures will be brought to beautify the temple.” The Hebrew is a peculiar phrase; the subject is a noun, feminine, singular; the predicate is a plural masculine. The word “chemdath”--desire, is the same as used in Daniel 11:37 , the desire of women. If literally translated it would read thus: “And the desire of all nations, they shall come.” The Septuagint therefore translates it, “the choice things of all nations shall come; ” others have rendered it in the following ways: “The things desired by all nations shall come,” with the interpretation that it is the gospel; “all the Gentiles shall come with their delightful things;” “the beauty of all the heathen; ” “they shall come to the desire of all nations; ” “with the desire of all nations; ” the “choicest of all nations (that is the best of them) will come,” etc. With all these suggested renderings of the difficult phrase there can be no question that it points to Christ, and must be interpreted as a great Messianic prophecy. The most ancient comments are on this line altogether. Christ is the object of the desire of all nations. This does not necessarily mean that He is subjectively the desire of the nations, but He is objectively, for through Him alone the nations can be blest and receive the righteousness and peace which they need.

First, the announcement is made, “I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land.” Have these convulsions been? While there have been shakings of kingdoms in the political sense, and the earth has often been shaken physically and otherwise, this prophecy is yet to be fulfilled. The Holy Spirit bears witness to it in the New Testament, for we read in Hebrews 12:26-28 , “Whose voice then (at Sinai in a physical manifestation) shook the earth; but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only but also heaven. And the word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore, we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved (the coming kingdom and not the church) let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” This settles the question as to the futurity of this prophecy. Critics have objected to this interpretation on account of the statement that this universal shaking is to be in “a little while.” They apply it therefore to the nearer political events of that period. But the future in prophecy is often fore-shortened, and besides this, the little while is not man’s little while, but God’s; with Him a thousand years is as a day. Furthermore, in the political events of the times which followed the restoration of the Jews from Babylon not all nations were involved. The prophecy before us declares, “I will shake all nations; ” this, too, is future. The Messiah, spoken of next as “the desire of all nations,” came the first time, but His coming did not bring the blessing and glory to nations as predicted here, nor did the promised peace come. He made peace in His sacrificial death; the foundation for “peace on earth” was then laid, as well as for the great future blessing of all the nations. But the Jews delivered Him into the hands of the Gentiles, and the Gentiles treated Him as did the Jews. In anticipation of His rejection He said, “Think not that I am come to bring peace, but the sword.” Then followed the present age, unknown with its mystery, the church, to the prophets. It will close with the shaking of all nations, when the King-Messiah will appear again and bring the promised blessing to all nations. The silver and gold, which belong to the Lord, will then be brought by the nations. Isaiah 60:5 .

It is important to read the ninth verse in the right way, as our Authorized Version is incorrect. It does not say in the Hebrew, “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former,” but the Hebrew is, “The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, saith the LORD of hosts; and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.” The house of course is the temple. The visible glory dwelt once in the former house; the day is coming when there will be greater glory, the day of His glorious manifestation; then in connection with His coming and that coming restoration, He will give peace.

Verses 10-19

CHAPTER 2:10-19

The Fourth Address

A few months later Haggai delivered another address of moral instruction and admonition. The question the prophet asks first is answered by the priests negatively. This is followed by a second question, “If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean?” This they answered affirmatively; for he that is defiled puts defilement upon everything he handles. When they had given the right answers, the prophet makes the moral application. “So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith Jehovah; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer thereon is unclean.” All their works and offerings were unclean, because they were in that condition. They had to be cleansed first. Separation from evil, from that which defiles, was therefore demanded. So it is today. The order is “cease to do evil” and then “learn to do well.” We are, as Christians, no less exhorted to purge ourselves, to separate from evil, and then to become fit vessels for the Master’s use.

And then the Lord challenges them to prove Him, to see if they separate from evil, are wholly for Him, how faithful He is going to be to them. “From this day,” the day of a true return to the Lord followed by obedience and separation, “I will bless you.”

Verses 20-23

CHAPTER 2:20-23

The Fifth Address

The final address of Jehovah’s messenger is altogether prophetic. It is addressed exclusively to Zerubbabel, the governor, a son of David. He tells the princely leader that the heavens and the earth will be shaken; it is the same as in Haggai 2:6 . When that comes the throne of the kingdoms will be overthrown; the power of the kingdoms of the nations (the ten kingdoms; Daniel 2:1-49 will be destroyed, for in that day, the falling stone, typifying the second coming of Christ, will make an end of Gentile dominion. The battle of Armageddon will take place and end the military power of these nations. Zerubbabel, the son of David, is the type of Christ, the Son of David. He will then receive the throne of His father David. He will be made a signet. The signet-ring was among those nations a mark of honor. It was given by monarchs to their prime-ministers, conferring all authority upon them. Thus the Lord Jesus Christ is pictured as receiving from God the rule and authority.

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Haggai 2". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/haggai-2.html. 1913-1922.
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