HAGGAI CHAPTER 2.
Further Addresses Concerning the Temple and Its Meaning.
A COMFORTING ASSURANCE. ó V. 1. In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, not even a full month after the construction of the Temple had been resumed, came the word of the Lord by the prophet Haggai, saying, V. 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, the rest of those who had now re-turned from Babylon, saying, V. 3. Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? the Temple of Solomon with its almost unequaled rich ornamentation. And how do ye see it now? What impression did this second Temple make upon them as they observed it? Is it not in your eyes, in comparison of it, as nothing? Any kind of comparison was so much to the disadvantage of this second Temple that the older men had fallen to weeping even when they saw the foundation finished and the altar of burnt offering placed, Ezra 3, 10 ff. V. 4. Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord, filled with reassuring comfort; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, all filled with the same reassurance, and work, to complete the erection of the Temple; for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts; V. 5. according to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, when Israel was formally accepted as Jehovahís people in the great assembly at Mount Sinai, so My Spirit remaineth among you, to strengthen them for the successful conclusion of their work. Fear ye not! V. 6. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the same powerful God of the covenant who had entered into fellowship with them at Horeb, Yet once, it is a little while, but a short time as men reckon time, and I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land, in a mighty commotion involving practically the entire known world, such as took place when the Roman emperors ordered their periodical censuses of the empire, V. 7. and I will shake all nations, all of them being drawn into this agitation, and the Desire of all nations, the long-expected Messiah, shall come; and I will fill this house, now so lowly and unpretentious, with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. V. 8. The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, for which reason it would be a small matter for Him to fill any mere earthly house with ornamentation and treasures beyond the dreams of avarice. But that is not the Lordís chief concern. V. 9. The glory of this latter house, of the New Testament Church, of which this second Temple was but a feeble type and shadow, shall be greater than of the former, of the Jewish Church of the Old Testament, of which the Temple of Solomon was a type, saith the Lord of hosts; and in this place will I give peace, namely, the peace of the redemption gained by the promised Messiah, saith the Lord of hosts. In this way the content of the New Testament Gospel message was proclaimed even in the Old Testament, and the believers in both instances rest their faith on the same hope. Cp. Luke 2, 14; Eph. 2, 14.
A WARNING ADMONITION CONCERNING FALSE RIGHTEOUSNESS. ó V. 10. In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, a little more than two months later, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord by Haggai, the prophet, again by direct inspiration, saying, V. 11. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Ask now the priests concerning the Law, saying, V. 12. If one bear holy flesh In the skirt of his garment, namely, the meat of sacrifices which had been offered, and with his skirt do touch bread or pottage, any of the holy food that was sodden, or wine or oil or any meat, such as was used in offering sacrifices or in connection with sacrificial meals, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. This was in agreement with the Law, Lev. 6, 20. 27; for though the garment itself was sanctified by such consecrated food, it could impart no holiness to one who, by neglecting the will of the Lord, had become unholy. V. 13. Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body, by touching a corpse, touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean, again in perfect agreement with the Ceremonial Law of the Jews, Lev. 22, 4; Num. 5, 2. 9. 10. V. 14. Then answered Haggai and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before Me, saith the Lord, in His presence as Ruler and Judge; and so is every work of their hands, everything that they might undertake; and that which they offer there is unclean. The children of Israel were in disgrace because of their neglect to finish the house of the Lord, and though their land was holy land, consecrated to the Lord, yet its fruits found no favor in His eyes and could not serve to make the people clean by a mere outward service, as long as their hearts were not in the right relation to Him, so that they were constrained to give Him the worship which lie desired. V 15. And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, by applying their hearts to this problem, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the Temple of the Lord, before its reconstruction was resumed; V. 16. since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, a stack of sheaves which promised a yield of twenty bushels or pecks, there were but ten; when one came to the press-fat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, thinking that the harvest should have brought that much, there were but twenty. V. 17. I smote you with blasting, with blight of the fruits and grains, and with mildew, from excessive moisture, and with hail in all the labors of your hands, the harvests over which they had worked so hard; yet ye turned not to Me, saith the Lord, all His punishments did not have the desired effect. V. 18. Consider now from this day and upward, applying their hearts to the consideration of that which pertained to their best interests, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the Lordís Temple was laid, consider it, for the entire period of time since the Jews, in accordance with the decree of Cyrus, had first laid the foundation till the day of the assembly at which these words were spoken, was a time during which the blessing of the Lord was not poured out in its fullest measure, because all their labor for the new Temple had been fitful. V. 19. Is the seed yet in the barn? They were still suffering as a consequence of the shortage. Yea, as yet the vine and the fig-tree and the pomegranate and the olive-tree hath not brought forth, the results of their former lack of zeal were still in evidence; from this day will I bless you. Times would now change, since they were showing evidence of the change which had come over their hearts. If men turn to the Lord in true repentance, He may turn to them in mercy and give them blessings of this life in rich measure.
A SPECIAL PROMISE TO ZERUBBABEL. ó V. 20. And again the word of the Lord came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, this being a second revelation on the same day, saying, V. 21. Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, in a message of encouragement which was nevertheless intended for the entire assembly of returned exiles, I will shake the heavens and the earth, setting their machinery in motion in the interest of His plans for His people; V. 22. and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, all the world-powers opposed to His reign, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen, all the forces of evil that are opposed to the Church of the Lord; and I will overthrow the chariots. and those that ride in them, the leaders of the hostile forces; and the horses and their riders shall come down, being overthrown and destroyed, every one by the sword of his brother; for that, in the end, is a condition which favors the Lordís kingdom, the fact that the enemies are often not at peace among themselves, but turn their weapons against one another. V. 23. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, My servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the Lord, Zerubbabel as a member of the family of David being a type of the coming Messiah, and will make thee as a signet, a very precious possession in the eyes of its Oriental possessor; for I have chosen thee, saith the Lord of hosts. The fulfilment of tills prophecy is found in Jesus Christ, the SON of David and descendant of Zerubbabel, for He established the kingdom of His father David in a. most unique manner, as a spiritual rule and reign, which is to last throughout eternity. Cp. Luke 1, 32. 33.