Wednesday, December 14th, 2016


Text:   Haggai 1-2




Historical Background. The destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Babylonian armies in 586 B.C. marked the end of an era in Jewish national and religious life. As exiles in Babylon, the Jews were without a temple and without their sacrifices. Though they could direct their prayers toward Jerusalem (I Kings 8:48 ; Dan. 6:10), it was only under the generous policies of Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, that almost 50,000 Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel . . ., accompanied by Joshua the high priest and the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah.


For the exiles prayer was made to God while facing Jerusalem –

I Kings 8:48 And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name.


Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.


God directed Cyrus and referred to Cyrus as His servant –

Isaiah 44:28 That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.


Levitical sacrifices were soon reinstated on a rebuilt altar for burnt offerings (Ezra 3:1-6 ), and in the second year of the return the foundation of the temple was laid (Ezra 3:8-13 ; 5:16). However, Samaritan harassment and eventual Persian pressure brought a halt to their rebuilding of the temple. Then spiritual apathy set in; and for about 16 more years – until the rule of the Persian king, Darius Hystaspes (521-486 B.C.) – the construction of the temple was discontinued. In the second year of Darius (520 B.C.) God raised up Haggai the prophet to encourage the Jews in the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 5:1-2 ; Hag. 1:1). His task was to arouse the leaders and the people of Judah from their spiritual lethargy and to encourage them to continue working on the temple. The initial success of Haggai in his mission (cf. 1:12-15) was supplemented by the continued efforts of Zechariah until the temple construction was finished in 515 B.C. . . (Bible Knowledge Commentary).


Haggai was a contemporary of Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, and Joshua, the high priest. He was among the first exiles who returned from the Babylonian captivity following the decree of Cyrus in 536 B.C. While the temple was being rebuilt, the work was forcibly halted by the Samaritans until 520 B.C. During the interval, the people became engrossed with their own affairs and had no time nor money for the house of God. Haggai urged the people to put first things first, promising that if they would obey God and rebuild the temple, material and spiritual blessings would follow. The rebuilding process was thus resumed. It was completed in 515 B.C.


The theme of Haggai is the need for the people to put the things of the Lord first in their lives in order that God’s blessing might rest upon them. His prophecy concerns the rebuilding of the temple.


We remind ourselves of –

Ezra 5:1-2 – Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them. 2 Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.


We also remind ourselves of –

Ezra 6:14-1514 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. 15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.


Haggai, the Lord’s messenger (1:13), delivered four dated messages from the Lord which encouraged the leaders and the people of Judah to rebuild the temple. . . (BKC).

We see Haggai’s first message. It was –

    I.     A Call to Construction of the Temple, 1:1-15


There is the –

            A.  Introduction, 1:1-2


Haggai 1:1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month [i.e. Aug. 19, 520 B.C.], came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest [i.e. Josedech was the high priest at the time of the Babylonian invasion and was killed by Nebuchadnezzar], saying,


Haggai 1:2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built.


The reference to Judah as these people rather than “My people” implies a divine rebuke because they did not act like the Lord’s people. Their excuse for not rebuilding the temple (the time has not yet come) is laid bare in the next verses which describe their misplaced priorities (BKC).

There is –

   B.     The Reprimand, 1:3-6


Haggai 1:3 Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,


Haggai 1:4 Is it time for you, O ye [i.e. for you yourselves], to dwell in your cieled houses [i.e. in your paneled houses A sign of luxury, for expensive timber had to be imported], and this house lie waste [i.e. and this temple lie in ruins – The Temple had been started about 16 years earlier]?


Their personal priorities must be secondary to the Lord’s priorities.


Haggai 1:5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.


Haggai 1:6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little [i.e. but harvest little]; ye eat, but ye have not enough [i.e. but you do not have enough]; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm [i.e. you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm enough]; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag [i.e. into a purse] with holes.


1:6 – (RSB) This verse illustrates the truth of Matt. 6:19, 33.


Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.


Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.


(RSB) a bag with holes. The bad economic conditions caused inflation of prices.


It implies that your money has a way of disappearing.


The implication is strong that these economic conditions were divine chastening for disobedience. . . . All their efforts at farming and wage-earning availed nothing because they had not put the Lord first (BKC).

There is –

   C.     The Remedy, 1:7-8


Haggai 1:7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.


Haggai 1:8 Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house [i.e. the temple]; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD.


1:8 – (RSB) Cedar wood had previously been purchased from Lebanon (Ezra 3:7 ) but was likely used in their houses instead of in the Temple.


Ezra 3:7 They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.


What happened to this wood? Was it delivered? Was it used to build their own homes? Was it used for some other purpose?

There is –

   D.     The Rebuke from God, 1:9-11


Haggai 1:9 Ye looked for much, and, lo [i.e. behold, indeed], it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it [i.e. I blew it away]. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste [i.e. because of My house that is in ruins], and ye run every man unto his own house.


1:9 – (RSB) Even the little they were able to reap, God would blow upon it, dispersing it in order to chastise the people for their disobedience in not finishing the Temple.


1:10-11 – (RSB) The absence of dew in the dry summer months increased the famine.


Haggai 1:10 Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew [i.e. the heavens above you withhold its dew], and the earth is stayed from her fruit [i.e. the earth withholds its fruit].


In the dry season (April-October) morning dew, often heavy in Palestine, was essential to the growth of summer crops. So the absence of dew was devastating (BKC).


Haggai 1:11 And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn [i.e. the grain], and upon the new wine, and upon the oil [i.e. the olive oil], and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.

There is –

   E.     The Reaction of the People, 1:12-15


1:12-15 – (RSB) Seldom has a sermon had such immediate practical impact (though Haggai realized that it was the Lord’s doing, v. 14). Only 23 days elapsed between the events recorded in verse 1 and those recorded in verse 15.


23 days after Haggai’s sermon, construction on the temple resumed.


Haggai 1:12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD.


Haggai 1:13 Then spake Haggai the LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message unto the people [i.e. spoke the LORD’s message to the people], saying, I am with you, saith the LORD.


Haggai 1:14 And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house [i.e. and they worked on the house] of the LORD of hosts, their God,


Haggai 1:15 In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.


August 19, 520 B.C. plus 23 days would be about September 11, 520 B.C. On this date a little over three weeks later, the work on the temple resumed.

Next, we see Haggai’s second message. It was –

  II.     A Call to Courage in the Lord, 2:1-9


Haggai 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,


2:1 – (RSB) The twenty-first day of the seventh month, Oct. 17, 520 B.C., was the seventh and last day of the Feast of Tabernacles . . ., usually a joyous occasion of thanksgiving for the harvest. That year, however, the harvest was scanty (1:6, 11).


This was only about 36 days after work on the Temple was resumed in Haggai 1:15 .


Haggai 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,


Haggai 2:3 Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory [i.e. in its former glory]? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? [i.e. it must seem to you like nothing at all.]


2:3 – (RSB) The background for this question is in Ezra 3:8-13 . A few septuagenarians (i.e. people in their 70s) and older ones, who could remember the larger and more beautiful Temple of Solomon, wept when they saw the smaller, plainer Temple of Zerubbabel. Coupled with the slim harvest, this sight also infected others with discouragement.


Haggai 2:4 Yet now be strong [i.e. take courage], O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong [i.e. take courage], O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong [i.e. take courage], all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:


Haggai 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.


God’s word to Israel when they came out of Egypt is seen in Exodus 19:5 ; 29:45-46; 33:14 –

Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.


Exodus 29:45-4645 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.


Exodus 33:14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.

Back to Haggai 2:6

Haggai 2:6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake [i.e. once again in a little while I will shake] the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;


2:6 – (RSB) . . . The scope of these words points to a yet future fulfillment at the time of the second coming of Christ.


Haggai 2:7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house [i.e. this temple] with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.


This “shaking” of the nations may refer to God’s gathering the nations for the Battle of Armageddon (Zech. 14:1-4) (BKC).


Zechariah 14:1-41 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished [i.e. raped]; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. 4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof [i.e. will split in two] toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.


This divine judgment was impending in Haggai’s day since the Old Testament prophets did not see the valley of time lying between the First and Second Advents (i.e. comings) of Jesus Christ . . . (BKC).


They did not distinguish between the first and second comings of Christ.


2:7 – (RSB) The well-known translation the desire of all nations makes this a reference to Messiah and is in accord with Jewish tradition. . . . The glory may refer to the splendor of the Temple or to the presence of the Lord in it.


Haggai 2:8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.


Haggai 2:9 The glory of this latter house [i.e. temple] shall be greater than of the former [i.e. of the former temple], saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.


2:9 – (RSB) this latter house. . . may refer to Zerubbabel’s Temple (and its successor Temple built by Herod) and to the peace made by Christ on the cross at His first coming, or it may refer to the millennial Temple (Ezek. 40-48) and the world peace He will bring at His second coming.

We also see Haggai’s third message. It was –

 III.     A Call to Cleanness of Life, 2:10-19


Haggai 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,


2:10 – (RSB) the ninth month = Dec. 18, 520 B.C., when they looked for the early rain to water the new crop.


During the two months since the second sermon (v. 1, “seventh month”; v. 10, ninth month), the Prophet Zechariah had begun his ministry (Zech. 1:1) (BKC).


August 19, 520 B.C. – Haggai preached his first sermon


September 11, 520 B.C. – Work on the Temple resumed 23 days after Haggai preached his first sermon


October 17, 520 B.C. – On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Haggai preached his second sermon 36 days after work on the temple resumed, 59 days after his first sermon


December 18, 520 B.C. – Haggai preached his third and fourth sermons, 62 days after his second sermon, 121 days after his first sermon


Haggai 2:11 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying,


Haggai 2:12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment [i.e. if one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment], and with his skirt [i.e. with this fold] do touch bread, or pottage [i.e. stew], or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy [i.e. will the bread, pottage, wine, oil, or any meat which his skirt touches be made holy]? And the priests answered and said, No.


2:12 – (RSB) The first question is: Since a man who is carrying holy flesh, that is, meat for a sacrifice, is sanctified . . ., can he transfer that sanctification to things he touches? The answer is, No.


Haggai 2:13 Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these (i.e. the bread, pottage, wine, oil, or any meat which his skirt touches), shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean.


2:13 – (RSB) The second question is: Since a man who touches a corpse is defiled, does he transfer that defilement to other things he touches? The answer is, Yes. The point of these two questions is this: Sanctification or cleanness cannot be transferred, but defilement can (just as health is not contagious, but disease can be). The disobedience of the people was like a dead thing in their midst, contaminating all of them (v. 14).


Haggai 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.


Haggai then applied to the people of Judah the priests’ answer in verse 13 – disobedience renders even sacrificial worship unacceptable. This defilement of the nation Israel probably looked back to the period before the temple rebuilding began (cf. 1:2-4), because the defilement contrasts with the changed situation “from this day on” (2:15) (BKC).


Haggai 2:15 And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward [i.e. from this day forward], from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the LORD [i.e. before you began to lay the foundation of the LORD’s temple]:


Haggai 2:16 Since those days were, when one came to an heap [i.e. came to a grain heap] of twenty measures, there were but ten [i.e. there were only ten]: when one came to the pressfat [i.e. to the wine vat] for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press [i.e. out of the wine press], there were but twenty [i.e. there were only twenty].


Haggai 2:17 I smote you with blasting [i.e. with blight] and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD.


Haggai 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.


2:18 – (RSB) upward. Their future would be one of blessing. The foundation of the Temple was laid in 536 B.C.


Haggai 2:19 Is the seed yet [i.e. still] 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.


The drought of divine judgment had already affected the year’s harvest so that their barns were already emptied of the sparse harvest. They had neither staples (seed, or grapes, or olives) nor luxuries (figs and pomegranates) (BKC).


Their faithful obedience in continuing to rebuild (i.e. rebuild the temple) would enable them to experience God’s blessing (BKC).

Finally, we see Haggai’s fourth message. It was –

 IV.     A Call to Confidence in the Future, 2:20-23


Haggai 2:20 And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying,


2:20 – (RSB) four and twentieth day = Dec. 18, 520 B.C.


2:21-22 – (RSB) The prophecy looks ahead to the time when Christ will rule the nations of the world. In Haggai’s time Persia ruled more than 2,000,000 sq mi . . . of territory.


Haggai 2:21 Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth;


Haggai 2:22 And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen [i.e. of the nations, of the Gentiles]; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down [i.e. will go down, will fall], every one by the sword of his brother.


Zerubbabel learned from Haggai that God would overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms. This is reminiscent of the destruction of Gentile world powers represented in the image in Daniel 2 . There the worldwide messianic kingdom will replace the Gentile kingdoms. . . . The overthrowing of chariots and the fall of horses and their riders indicate that this change in world government will be military as well as political. In the confusion of this great Battle of Armageddon . . . at the Lord’s second coming . . . many a man will turn the sword against his own brother . . . (BKC)


Haggai 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 [i.e. like a signet ring]: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.


2:23 – (RSB) signet ring. An indication of the honor God gave to Zerubbabel to be the guarantee of the continuation of the Davidic line, who, perhaps because of this and the suspicion it created in the minds of the Persian rulers, shortly afterward disappeared from the scene.


We should likewise remember that God is in complete control regardless of how things may appear.


This sermon is the 1st part of the series, Study of Haggai. Other sermons in this series are: