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Bible Commentaries
Haggai 2

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-9



Verses 1-9:

The First and Latter Temples

Verse 1 relates that on the 21st day of the seventh Hebrew month, (October) "the word of the Lord" came again to Haggai the prophet, with the second message from the Lord; It is one he too delivered and wrote, as moved by the Spirit; It was delivered but shortly before that of Zechariah. This message came and was given less than a month after that one of the previous chapter Haggai 1:1; Haggai 1:15, in the second year of the reign of Darius, the king of Persia. See also Hebrews 1:1; 2 Peter 1:21; Acts 10:43; Revelation 19:10.

Verse 2 relates that God directed Haggai to bear His message as a witness to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, Joshua, the high priest of Judah, and to all the residue (remnant) of the returned Jews in the country of Judah and the Jerusalem, Temple area especially. It was to be given to them to obey, to act upon, much as the mother of our Lord directed the frustrated wedding servants, "whatsoever He tells you all to do, do it," John 2:5; James 1:22; Ephesians 2:10. They were told to rise up and build and God would bless them. An old writer urged," set the wheels a going and God will oil them." The idea is, "do you best for God and He will do the rest."

Verse 3 calls upon Haggai to elicit a testimony from the old men of Israel, who had survived the 70 years of captivity in Babylon and now returned, to tell the younger generation of the glorious beauty of the former Temple, that stood when they were young. They now beheld the shame of their ruins and had tasted of the captivity oppression, away from their land, and were given an opportunity to build and obey God again. Many of the elders and chief priests of former years now stood and wept aloud, as they reflected their sins and Divine chastisement that justly fell upon them, Ezra 3:12-13. The renewed sacrifice altar was void of five things prominent in the, former Temple. There was no: 1) sacrifice, 2) no Shekinah glory or cloud representing God’s presence, 3) no ark or cherubims, 4) no Urim or Thummim, and 5) no spirit of prophecy at the ancient ruins, with only an altar now restored.

They are asked to tell how the Temple area, with only a long delayed foundation in the midst of 70 years of ruins, looks to them now. And remember "man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks upon the heart," Zechariah 8:6; Zechariah 4:10; 1 Corinthians 1:27-28; See also 1 Samuel 16:7.

Verse 4 calls upon the governor, high priest, and all the remnant of the Jews, to be courageous, be strong, and work at rebuilding the Temple, with assurance that the Lord had pledged, "I am with (in close affinity with) you all." His presence and strength always tend toward success, Zechariah 4:6; Zechariah 8:9; Exodus 3:12; Mr 16;20; Acts 7:9. To work was David’s charge to Solomon regarding the building of the first Temple, 1 Chronicles 28:10; 2 Chronicles 19:11.

Verse 5 certifies that in harmony with God’s covenant He made with the Israelites, when He led them out of Egypt, His Spirit still remained or abided among them, to help them and their work, Zechariah 14:6. He therefore charged them to fear not or be not in a state of fear and anxiety. Wherever the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty, not bondage, See? Exodus 19:5-6; Exodus 24:10-11; Exodus 29:45-46; Nehemiah 9:25; Isaiah 63:11; Zechariah 14:6.

Verse 6 foretells that it is yet only a little while, a brief time, until the Lord shall shake (shake up) all nations, described as the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land. This speaks of judgment and turmoil among the nations and upon the people preceding the coming of the "desire of all nations" or the "prince of peace," Hebrews 12:26-28. There is hardly a prophecy of the Old Testament concerning the coming of the Messiah that does not in some way allude to His Second Coming; The first coming of Christ "shook up" (troubled) Herod and all that were in Jerusalem, when the wise men inquired of Him, Matthew 2:3. Though His first coming shook men from all walks of life and all nations, His "yet" coming, in judgment and final triumph, will shake them more, Hebrews 10:36-37. His glory will be greater than all the furniture of the Temple and the wealthy of Israel, Zechariah 2:5; Ezekiel 43:4-5; Exodus 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:11.

Verse 7 further affirms that the Lord Jehovah will shake (disturb) all nations, races, and governments. And the desire (desired one), the Redeemer of all nations and people, shall be drawn to Him, Genesis 3:15; Genesis 49:10; Zechariah 9:9; Acts 1:9. Job and Abraham the early patriarchs longed for Him, Job 19:25-27; Job 33:23-26; John 8:56. The glory of the rebuilt Temple was also to be filled with glory; It was a foreshadow of the greater glory of the "house that Jesus built," the church, that was greater than the "house that Moses built," Hebrews 3:1-6. As the first Temple was filled with a cloud of glory, so Jesus Christ, and the church that Jesus built, on which the Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost, was and is yet filled with greater glory; Though Moses had a glory countenance at the giving of the law; Jesus had a more glorious one, Luke 2:10-11; John 1:14; Matthew 17:1-5; 2 Corinthians 3:7; Acts 2:1-4. All this bespeaks a greater glory, at the coming of our Lord, Malachi 3:1; Psalms 24:7.

Verse 8 recounts that Jehovah, the Lord of hosts, is owner, holds title deed or ownership certificate on the Earth’s silver and gold. All who get or hold and use it other than for His honor do it as thieves and robbers, absconders of properties of another, Job 41:11. Though Israel’s second Temple was lacking the abundance of gold and silver of the first Temple, it, like the church, received a greater glory through the Spirit of the Lord, 2 Corinthians 3:7-11. That new Jerusalem shall have the Old adornment, Revelation 21:10-22.

Verse 9 resounds the pledge of the Lord of hosts that greater glory should come to this rebuilt Temple than to the former Temple, to this latter house, to replace the former. Though not realized by the prophets themselves, this phrase "house of the Lord", of the future, incontestably looked forward to, often alluded to, the "house that Jesus built," the program of worship and service that He called His church, Hebrews 3:1-6; 1 Timothy 3:15-16; Mark 13:34-35. In this place (Jerusalem) He pledges ultimate peace. when He, as Prince of Peace, King of kings, Lord of lords, and Bridegroom joined to His bride, shall dwell in and reign from Zion, Isaiah 2:1-5; Luke 1:33; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28. Note also that though He gave peace and made peace through the "blood of His cross," He is yet to gather all people to Him in earthly peace, as the full fruition of the "Shiloh,’’ (Shalom one) who was and is to come, Colossians 1:23; Genesis 49:10.

Verses 10-19

The Remnant Chastened

Verses 10-19:

Priestly Sins And Indifference Of People Bring Chastening

Verse 10 announces beginning of the third major message of Haggai the prophet, to the Jewish remnant. It came in December, two months and one day after the 1st, v. 1. During this time the Jews had made rapid progress in the work of rebuilding the Temple, v. 15-18.

Verse 11 challenges Haggai to inquire of the priests regarding the law. For they were administrators of its rites, which they were to perform in an holy, sanctified manner, Leviticus 10:10-11; Deuteronomy 33:10; Ezekiel 44:23; Malachi 2:7.

Verse 12 continues the inquiry of the priests concerning cleanliness of sacrifices, according to the law, Holy flesh, flesh dedicated to a sacrifice, carried in a shirt, also considered holy or dedicated, could not touch, be permitted to touch bread, pottage, wine, oil, or meat, without both the food touched and the sacrifice becoming unholy or unsanctified. The holy and the unholy were not to have accord, or communion, in Divine worship, is the idea. This is why all Divine worship should be preceded by confession of sins and prayer, 1 John 1:8-9; 1 Timothy 2:1; 2 Chronicles 7; 2 Chronicles 14, Luke 18:1.

Verse 13 relates Haggai’s further inquiry of the priests regarding acceptable behavior in prayer and Divine worship. He asked if one who is unclean by a dead body should touch any of these (sacrifices) wouldn’t it be unclean, unacceptable as an offering. The answer was, "yes". One drop of filth can pollute a glass of water, even so, all of man’s deeds of righteousness (moral deeds), can never cleanse him from the depravity and pollution of his own sins, Numbers 19:11; Numbers 19:13; Numbers 19:22. Our righteousness is as filthy rags in His sight, Isaiah 64:6; Titus 3:5; John 3:3; John 3:5.

Verse 14 states Haggai’s direct explanation of the immediate meaning and implication of the unclean persons and sacrifice offerings, where any had touched a dead body, yet proceed to worship in that unclean condition. He explained that both the Jewish people and nation were unclean before the Lord, and the works of their hands, and their formal sacrifices. The people were not made clean by the sacrifices they had made for near 15 years, upon the open air altar built under Cyrus, after which they had ceased building the Temple; Yet they repeatedly made the sacrifice offerings in the open air. In this the works of their hands were refused by the Lord, Ezra 3:3; Hebrews 9:13; 1 Samuel 15:22; Hebrews 9:14.

Verse 15 recounts Haggai’s call upon the people to consider or reflect on the troubles that had befallen them, since they laid the foundation of the Temple, some 15 years earlier, then ceased building it for fear of the heathen around them, and began making many formal sacrifices on the open air altar. But "to obey is better than to sacrifice and to harken is better than the fat of many rams," 1 Samuel 15:12; Hosea 14:9; Malachi 3:6; Romans 6:21.

Verse 16 calls attention to the reduction of yield in their crops of the fields and vineyards since they laid the foundation of the Temple, began building well, then quit the work. Knowing to do good and doing it not is sin against God, James 4:17. And the sin of neglect to obey God is as surely an offense to Him as outward deeds of moral violence.

Verse 17 recounts the Lord’s declaration that it was He who had smitten them in recent years with blasting, drought, mildew, and hail upon the labors of their hands, as forewarned in their own law, because of disobedience toward Him; Yet they had not repented or returned, for all these years (15 years), to complete their Temple of worship first, around which He purposed to then bless them with material things, Exodus 32:26; Amos 4:9. See also Genesis 41:6; Genesis 41:23; Genesis 41:27; Deuteronomy 28:22; Deuteronomy 28:27; 1 Kings 8:37; 2 Chronicles 6:29; Jeremiah 5:2; Amos 4:9; Amos 8:11; Zechariah 1:2-4.

Verse 18 challenges the priests and people of the restored Jewish remnant, who had begun the rebuilding of the Temple with enthusiasm, to reflect what had happened to their people in the past fifteen years, as a basis on which to retrench and do better from this hour, without faltering, until their task of rebuilding the Temple was done, Zechariah 8:9; Galatians 6:9.

Verse 19 asks if the seed is yet in the barn? implying that it was not, but had been sown in vain the previous season. Yet, through their continued obedience in building the Temple, as an act of priority of obedience to Him, He pledged they would see prosperity, and come to have plenty on the vine, the fig tree, and the pomegranate. Obedience to God is the seed of prosperity, Matthew 6:33; Habakkuk 2:3.

Verses 20-23

Future Destruction Of Gentile Power

Verses 20-23:

Haggai’s Final Message Of Hope

Verse 20 declares that the word of the Lord came to Haggai on the 24th day of the ninth month (of December), three months and 21 days, v. 18, after the first message came to him, Haggai 1:1. As the book begins with a claim to inspiration, so it closes, in harmony with other scriptures, which are "true from the beginning," Psalms 119:60; John 5:39; 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Verse 21 called upon Haggai to speak directly to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, advising him that the Lord had sworn that He would "shake", shake-up, v. 6, 7, the heavens and the earth, His created property, especially the political and religious powers that had risen up against Him, Psalms 46:6; Ezekiel 21:27; Hebrews 12:26; Revelation 16:17; Ezra 5:1-3; Zechariah 4:6-10.

Verse 22 further announces that the Lord will violently overthrow and destroy the throne and armed forces of the heathen, their chariots and their drivers, their horses and their riders, causing them as heathen to turn swords on one another, Daniel 7:27, to make way for the coming conquest of the Lord Jesus Christ, Micah 5:10; Zechariah 9:10; See also Daniel 2:34-35; Daniel 2:44-45; Revelation 19:11-21. See also Ezekiel 38:21; Zechariah 14:13.

Verse 23 pledges that Zerubbabel, as an obedient civil ruler, (governor) in Judah, would be rewarded, in the day of the Lord. For God had chosen Zerubbabel for his task, as surely as He had chosen Joshua the high priest of Jewish worship in religious matters. Every person shall give account of himself to the Lord; It is true both in the matter of salvation and obedient service to the Lord, Song of Solomon 8:6; Jeremiah 22:24; Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 43:10. The signet of responsibility is given to every man, for which he must give account, Ezra 3:10; Ezra 8:2; Romans 14:11-12; 1 Corinthians 3:8; Matthew 28:18; John 5:22-23; See also Matthew 1:12; Luke 3:2; Hebrews 12:28; 1 Corinthians 15:24.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Haggai 2". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/haggai-2.html. 1985.
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