HAGGAI CHAPTER 2
By Al AW_7
In this chapter we have three sermons preached by the prophet Haggai for the encouragement of those that are forward to build the temple. In the first he assures the builders that the glory of the house they were now building should, in spiritual respects, though not in outward, exceed that of Solomonís temple, in which he has an eye to the coming of Christ (v. 1-9). In the second he assures them that though their sin, in delaying to build the temple, had retarded the prosperous progress of all their other affairs, yet now that they had set about it in good earnest he would bless them, and give them success
The people, discouraged at the inferiority of this temple to Solomon's, are encouraged nevertheless to persevere, because God is with them, and this house by its connection with Messiah's kingdom shall have a glory far above that of gold and silver.
(V. 10Ė19). In the third he assures Zerubbabel that, as a reward of his zeal and activity herein, he should be a favorite of Heaven, and one of the ancestors of Messiah the Prince, whose kingdom should be set up on the ruins of all opposing powers.
Hag 2:1 In the seventh [month], in the one and twentieth [day] of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying,
Here is, the date of this message, v. 1, It was sent on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, when the builders had been about a month at work (since the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month), and had got it in some forwardness. Note those that are hearty in the service of God shall receive fresh encouragements from him to proceed in it, as their case calls for them. Set the wheels going, and God will oil them.
Hag 2:2 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, saying,
Hag 2:3 Who [is] left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? [is it] not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?
Speak to Zerubbabel, and Joshua, and the residue of the people, the very same that obeyed the voice of the Lord (Ch. 1:12) and whose spirits God stirred up to do so (Ch. 1:14); to them are sent these words of comfort.
Many elders present at the laying of the foundation of the second temple who had seen the first temple ( Ezr 3:12, 13) in all its glory, wept at the contrast presented by the rough and unpromising appearance of the former in its beginnings. From the destruction of the first temple to the second year of Darius Hystaspes, the date of Haggai's prophecy, was a space of seventy years and to the first year of Cyrus, or the end of the captivity, fifty-two years; so that the elders might easily remember the first temple. The Jews note five points of inferiority: The absence from the second temple of (1) the sacred fire; (2) the Shekinah; (3) the ark and cherubim; (4) the Urim and Thummim; (5) the spirit of prophecy. The connection of it with Messiah more than counterbalanced all these; for He is the antitype to all the five (Hag 2:9).
Hag 2:9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.
Ezr 3:8 Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD.
Ezr 3:9 Then stood Jeshua [with] his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, [with] their sons and their brethren the Levites.
Ezr 3:10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.
Ezr 3:11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because [he is] good, for his mercy [endureth] for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
Ezr 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, [who were] ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
Ezr 3:13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.
The young people present here that had not seen the first temple in all its glory shouted for joy that they were going to have a temple.
The older ones that had seen the glory of the temple of soloman shed tears of sorrow because in comparison this temple was very plain. and absent of the five things.
Hag 2:4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I [am] with you, saith the LORD of hosts:
Yet now, though this house is likely to be much inferior to the former, be strong, O Zerubbabel! and be strong, O Joshua! Let not these leading men give way to this suggestion, nor be disheartened by it, but do as well as they can, when they cannot do so well as they would; and let all the people of the land be strong too, and work; and, if the leaders have but a good heart on it, it is hoped that the followers will have the better heart. Note, Those that work for God ought to exert themselves with vigor, and then to encourage themselves with hope that it will end well.
Hag 2:5 [According to] the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.
The grounds of these encouragements. God himself says to them, Fear you not and he gives good reasons for it.
They have God with them, his Spirit and his special presence: Be strong, for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts, v. 4. This he had said before (ch. 1:13), I am with you. But we need to have these assurances repeated, that we may have strong consolation. The presence of God with us, as the Lord of hosts, is enough to silence all our fears and to help us over all the discouragements we may meet with in the way of our duty.
We have reason to be encouraged as long as we have the Spirit of God remaining among us to work upon us, for so long we have God with us to work for us.
Hag 2:6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it [is] a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry [land];
Hag 2:7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.
They shall have the Messiah among them shortlyóhim that should come. To him bore all the prophets witness and this prophet particularly here, v. 6, 7. Here is the time of his coming, that it should not be long ere he came: "Yet once, it is a little while, and he shall come. The Old-Testament church has but one stage more (if we may say so) to travel; five stages were now past, from Adam to Noah, thence to Abraham, thence to Moses, thence to Solomonís temple, thence to the captivity, and now yet one stage more, its sixth dayís journey, and then comes the Sabbath of the Messiahís kingdom. Let the Son of man, when he comes, find faith on the earth, and let the children of promise continue still looking for him, for now it is but a little while and he will come; hold out, faith and patience, yet awhile, for he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.íí And, as he then said of his first appearance, so now of his second, Surely I come quickly. Now concerning his coming it is here foretold that it shall be introduced by a general shaking (v. 6): I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land. This is applied to the setting up of Christís kingdom in the world, to make way for which he will judge among the heathen, Ps. 110:6. God will once again do for his church as he did when he brought them out of Egypt; he shook the heavens and earth at Mount Sinai, with thunder, and lightningís, and earthquakes; he shook the sea and the dry land when lanes were made through the sea and streams fetched out of the rock. This shall be done again, when, at the sufferings of Christ, the sun shall be darkened, the earth shake, the rocks rendówhen, at the birth of Christ, Herod and all Jerusalem are troubled (Mt. 2:3), and he is set for the fall and rising again of many.
Hag 2:8 The silver [is] mine, and the gold [is] mine, saith the LORD of hosts.
God needs not the silver and gold to adorn his temple, for (says he), The silver is mine, and the gold is mine. All the silver and gold in the world are his; all that is hid in the bowels of the earth (for the earth is the Lordís and the fulness thereof), all that is laid up in the exchequers, banks, and treasuries of the children of men, and all that circulates for the maintaining of trade and commerce; it is all the Lordís. Every penny bears his image as well as Caesarís; and therefore when gold and silver are dedicated to his honor, and employed in his service, no addition is made to him, for it was his before. When David and his princes offered vast sums for the service of the house of God, they acknowledged, It is all thy own, and of thy own, Lord, have we given thee, 1 Chr. 29:14.
Hag 2:9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.
The house they are now building shall be filled with glory to such a degree that its glory shall exceed that of Solomonís temple. The enemies of the Jews followed them with reproach, and cast contempt upon the house they were building; but they might very well endure that when God undertook to fill it with glory. It is Godís prerogative to fill with glory; the glory that comes from him is satisfying, and not vain glory. Mosesí tabernacle and Solomonís temple were filled with glory when God in a cloud took possession of them; but this house shall be filled with glory of another nature. Let them not be concerned because this house will not have so much silver and gold about it as Solomonís temple had, v. 8
Hag 2:10 In the four and twentieth [day] of the ninth [month], in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,
Hag 2:10-19 . THIRD PROPHECY. Sacrifices without obedience (in respect to God's command to build the temple) could not sanctify. Now that they are obedient, God will bless them, though no sign is seen of fertility as yet.
This sermon was preached two months after that in the former part of the chapter. The priests and Levites preached constantly, but the prophets preached occasionally; both were good and needful. We have need to be taught our duty in season and out of season. The people were now going on vigorously with the building of the temple, and in hopes shortly to have it ready for their use and to be employed in the services of it; and now God sends them a message by his prophet, which would be of use to them.
Hag 2:11 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests [concerning] the law, saying,
What the rule of the law was. The prophet is ordered to enquire of the priests concerning it (v. 11); for their lips should keep this knowledge, and the people should enquire the law at their mouth, Mal. 2:7. Haggai himself, though a prophet, must ask the priests concerning the law. His business, as an extraordinary messenger, was to expound the providences of God, and to give directions concerning particular duties, as he had done, Ch. 1:8, 9. But he would not take the priestsí work out of the hands of those who were the ordinary ministers, and whose business it was to expound the ordinances of God, to teach the people the meaning of them, and to give the general rules for the observance of them. In a case of that nature, Haggai must himself consult them. Note, God has given to his ministers diversities of gifts, and calls them out to do diversities of services, so that they have need one of another, should make use one of another, and be helpful one to another. The prophet, though divinely inspired, cannot say to the priest, I have no need of thee, nor can the priest say so to the prophet. Perhaps Haggai was therefore ordered to consult the priests, that out of their own mouths he might judge both them and the people committed to their charge, and convict them of worse than ceremonial pollution. See Lev. 10:10, 11. Now the rules of the law, in the cases propounded, are, (1.) That he that has holy flesh in his clothes cannot by the touch of his clothes communicate holiness (v. 12): If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, though the garment is thereby so far made a devoted thing as that it is not to be put to common use till it has first been washed in the holy place (Lev. 6:27), yet it shall by no means transmit a holiness to either meat or drink, so as to make it ever the better to those that use it. (2.) That he that is ceremonially unclean by the touch of a dead body does by his touch communicate that uncleanness. The law is express (Num. 19:22), Whatsoever the unclean person touches shall be unclean; yet this Haggai will have from the priestsí own mouth, for concerning those things that we find very plain in our Bibles yet it is good to have the advice of our ministers. The sum of these two rules is that pollution is more easily communicated than sanctification; that is (says Grotius), There are many ways of vice, but only one of virtue, and that a difficult one.
Good implies perfection; evil commences with the slightest defect. Let not men think that living among good people will recommend them to God if they are not good themselves, but let them fear that touching the unclean thing will defile them, and therefore let them keep at a distance from it.
Hag 2:12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No.
Hag 2:13 Then said Haggai, If [one that is] unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean.
Hag 2:14 Then answered Haggai, and said, So [is] this people, and so [is] this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so [is] every work of their hands; and that which they offer there [is] unclean.
How it is here applied (v. 14): So is this people, and so is this nation, before me. He does not call them his people and his nation (they are unworthy to be owned by him), but this people, and this nation. They have been thus before God; they thought their offering sacrifices on the altar would sanctify them, and excuse their neglect to build the temple, and remove the curse which by that neglect they had brought upon their common enjoyments: "No,íí says God, "your holy flesh and your altar will be so far from sanctifying your meat and drink, your wine and oil, to you, that your contempt of Godís temple will bring a pollution, not only on your common enjoyments, but even on your sacrifices too; so that while you continued in that neglect all was unclean to you, nay, and so is this people still; and so they will be; on these terms they will still stand with me, and on no otheróthat if they be profane, and sensual, and morally impure, if they have wicked hearts, and live wicked lives, though they work ever so hard at the temple while it is building, and though they offer ever so many and costly sacrifices there when it is built, yet that shall not serve to sanctify their meat and drink to them, and to give them a comfortable use of them; nay, the impurity of their hearts and lives shall make even that work of their hands, and all their offerings, unclean, and an abomination to God.íí And the case is the same with us. Those whose devotions are plausible, but whose conversation is wicked, will find their devotions unable to sanctify their enjoyments, but their wickedness prevailing to pollute them. Note, When we are employed in any good work we should be jealous over ourselves, lest we render it unclean by our corruptions and mismanagements.
By way of comfort and encouragement. If their hearts be right with God, and their eye single in his service, they shall have the benefit of their devotion. God will take away the judgment of famine wherewith they have been corrected for their remissness, and will restore them great plenty. This they are called to consider, and to observe whether God would not be to the utmost as good as his word, and by his providence remarkably countenance and recompense their reformation in this matter. To make this the more signal, let them set down the day when they began to work at the building of the temple, to raise the structure upon the foundations that had been laid some time before. On the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month they began to prepare materials (Ch. 1:15), and now on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month they began to lay a stone upon a stone in the temple of the Lord; let them take notice of this day, and observe. How they had gone behind-hand in their estates before this day. Let them remember the time when there was a sensible waste and decay in all they had.
Hag 2:15 And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the LORD:
Hag 2:16 Since those [days] were, when [one] came to an heap of twenty [measures], there were [but] ten: when [one] came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty [vessels] out of the press, there were [but] twenty.
Hag 2:17 I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye [turned] not to me, saith the LORD.
(v. 17): I smote you with blastings, winds and frosts, which made every green thing to wither, and with mildew, which choked the corn when it was knitting, and with hail, which battered it down and broke it when it had grown to some maturity; thus they were disappointed in all the labour of their hands, while they neglected to lay their hand to the work of God and to labour in that. Note, While we take no care of Godís interest we cannot expect he should take care of ours. And, when he thus walks contrary to us, he expects that we should return to him and to our duty. But this people either saw not the hand of God in it (imputing it to chance) or saw not their own sin as the provoking cause of it, and therefore turned not to him. They were a long time incorrigible and unhumbled under these rebukes, so that Godís hand was stretched out still, for the people turned not to him that smote them, Isa. 9:12,
Isa 9:12 The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand [is] stretched out still.
Isa 9:13 For the people turneth not unto him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the LORD of hosts.
Isa 9:14 Therefore the LORD will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush, in one day.
Isa 9:15 The ancient and honourable, he [is] the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he [is] the tail.
Isa 9:16 For the leaders of this people cause [them] to err; and [they that are] led of them [are] destroyed.
Isa 9:17 Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows: for every one [is] an hypocrite and an evildoer, and every mouth speaketh folly. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand [is] stretched out still.
Hag 2:18 Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth [month, even] from the day that the foundation of the LORD'S temple was laid, consider [it].
Hag 2:19 Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless [you].
They might easily observe that as long as they continued in neglect of the temple work all their affairs went backward. But, let them now observe, and they should find that from this day forward God would bless them (v. 18, 19): "Consider now whether when you begin to change you way towards God you do not find God changing his way towards you; from this day, when you fall to work about the temple, consider it, I say, and you shall find a remarkable turn given for the better to all your affairs. Is the seed yet in the barn? Yes it is, and not yet thrown into the ground. The fruit-trees do not as yet bud, the vine, and the fig-tree, and the olive-tree, have not as yet brought forth, so that nothing appears to promise a good harvest or vintage next year. Nature does not promise it; but now that you begin to apply in good earnest to your duty, the God of nature promises it; he has said, From this day I will bless you. It is the best dayís work you ever did in your lives, for hence you may date the return of your prosperity.íí He does not say what they shall be, but, in general, I will bless you; and those that know what are the fruits flowing from Godís blessing know they can desire no more to make them happy. "I will bless you, and then you shall soon recover all your losses, shall thrive as fast as before you went backward; for the blessing of the Lord, that maketh rich, and those whom he blesses are blessed indeed.íí Note, When we begin to make conscience of our duty to God we may expect his blessing; and this tree of life is so known by its fruits that one may discern almost to a day a remarkable turn of Providence in favor of those that return in a way of duty; so that they and others may say that from this day they are blessed. See Mal. 3:10. And whoso is wise will observe these things, and understand by them the lovingkindness of the Lord.
Hag 2:20 And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth [day] of the month, saying,
Hag 2:21 Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth;
Hag 2:22 And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.
Let him expect to hear of great commotions in the nations of the earth, and let them not be a surprise to him; behold, he is told of them before (v. 21, 22): I will shake the heavens and the earth. This he had said before (v. 6, 7), and now says it again to Zerubbabel; let him expect shaking times, universal concussions. The world is like the sea, like the wheel, always in motion, but sometimes in a special manner turbulent. But, Blessed be God, if the earth be shaken, it is to shake the wicked out of it, Job 38:13. In the apocalyptic visions earthquakes bode no ill to the church. Here the heavens and the earth are shaken, that proud oppressors may be broken and brought down: I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms. The Chaldean monarchy, which had been the throne of kingdoms a great while, was already overthrown; and the powers that are, and are yet to come, shall in like manner be overthrown; their day will come to fall. 1. Though they be ever so powerful, yet the strength of their kingdoms shall be destroyed. They trust in chariots and horses (Ps. 20:7), but their chariots shall be overthrown, and those that ride in them, so that they shall not be able to attack the people of God, whom they persecute, not to escape the judgments of God, which persecute them. 2. though there appear none likely to be the instruments of their destruction, yet God will bring it about, for they shall be brought down every one by the sword of his brother. This reads the doom of all the enemies of Godís church, that will not repent to give him glory; it seems likewise designed as a promise of Christís victory over the powers of darkness, his overthrow of Satanís throne, that throne of kingdoms, the throne of the god of this world, the taking from him all the amour wherein he trusted and dividing the spoil. And all opposing rule, principality, and power, shall be put down, that the kingdom may be delivered up to God, even the Father.
Hag 2:23 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.
Let him depend upon it that he shall be safe under the divine protection in the midst of all these commotions, v. 23. Zerubbabel was active to build God a house, and therefore God makes the same promise to him as he did to David on the like occasionóthat he would build him a house, and establish it, even in that day when heaven and earth are shaken. This promise refers to this good man himself and to his family. He honored God, and God would honor him. His successors likewise in the government of Judah might take encouragement from it; though their authority was very precarious as to men, yet God would confirm it, and this would contribute to the stability of the people over whom God had set them. But this promise has special reference to Christ, who lineally descended from Zerubbabel, and is the sole builder of the gospel-temple. 1. Zerubbabel is here owned as Godís servant, and it is an honorable mention that is hereby made of him, as Moses and David my servants. When God destroys his enemies he will prefer his servants. Our Lord Jesus is his Fatherís servant in the work of redemption, but faithful as a Son, Isa. 42:1. 2. He is owned as Godís elect: I have chosen thee to this office; and whom God makes choice of he will make use of. Our Lord Jesus is chosen of God, 1 Pt. 2:4. And he is the head of the chosen remnant; in him they are chosen. 3. It is promised that, being chosen, God will make him as a signet. Jeconiah had been as the signet on Godís right hand, but was plucked thence (Jer. 22:24); and now Zerubbabel is substituted in the room of him. He shall be near and dear to God, precious in his sight, and honorable, and his family shall continue till the Messiah spring out of it, who is the signet on Godís right hand. This intimates (1.) The delight the Father has in him. In him he once and again declared himself to be well pleased. He is set as a seal upon his heart, a seal upon his arm, is brought near unto him (Dan. 7:13), is hidden in the shadow of his hand, Isa. 49:2. (2.) The dominion the Father has entrusted him with. Princes sign their edicts, grants, and commissions, with their signet-rings, Esth. 3:10. Our Lord Jesus is the signet on Godís right hand, for all power is given to him and derived from him. By him the great charter of the gospel is signed and ratified, and it is in him that all the promises of God are yea and amen.