Notes on Haggai 2:1-9, Haggai's second message
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
Haggai 2:1, KJV: In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying,
This second message was probably given in the same year as the first message, or the second year of Darius (1:1), but about seven weeks later. This would be the seventh month of the Hebrew lunar calendar, seven months after the first month, when Passover was celebrated (Exodus 12), corresponding to roughly mid-October to mid-November in the Julian calendar.
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,
Zerubbabel and Joshua were also the two men whom Haggai was told to speak to. This time the LORD also adds the “residue of the people”, perhaps because the “remnant of the people (1:12)” obeyed and feared the LORD.
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?
This implies there were a number of the people who still remembered the Temple of Solomon. The Book of Ezra gives a list of people, mostly men, who returned to Jerusalem after the 70-year exile to Babylon and, later, Persia was completed. The average age of these senior returnees would have had to be around 80, allowing for even youth to remember the glory of the original Temple before taken captive.
This message through Haggai may be a parallel passage to Ezra 3, describing how the different groups of people reacted when the foundation for the new temple was completed: some could not tell if there was a sound of joy or of weeping when they saw the new foundation.
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:
The LORD says three times in this verse that the people addressed should be strong. This is almost a repetition of His command to Joshua, son of Nun and Moses’ successor in Joshua 1:6, 7, and 9.
Then the LORD commands them to “work” but reminded them that He was with them. These days, as in those days, people, even genuine believers, profit from assurances like this.
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 direct reference to this “word” that the LORD had “covenanted with” Israel is not certain. Haggai may be referring to the encounter at Mount Sinai (Exodus 19 and following) when the LORD spoke to the entire nation of Israel. He closes this verse by saying one of the many “fear nots” in the Scriptures.
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;
None of this happened during Haggai’s lifetime, as far as is known, but there are prophecies of this very thing yet unfulfilled. Jesus Himself mentioned, or at least alluded, to this in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25, Luke 21:5-36).
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.
This seems to be a prophecy of the coming Messiah. Note the order: first, the LORD of hosts will shake the heavens, earth, sea, dry land, and finally all nations; then the “desire of all nations” shall come. Verses 6 and 7 might be a recap of Daniel 2 and 7, where he saw the coming kingdom, the stone cut out without hands, and other things,
The final thing to happen is that the LORD of hosts would “fill this house with glory”. That never happened, neither here nor in Herod’s temple—there is no mention of God’s glory appearing in the Temple in the New Testament—but this could refer to the Millennial Temple in Ezekiel 40-48.
8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.
These two metals are mentioned many times in the Bible. Abraham used silver to pay for the cave of Machpelah (Genesis 23). The Israelites gave an incredible amount of gold and silver plus other things to help build the Tabernacle (compare Exodus 35:1-29 with 36:4-7). Other uses are mentioned here and there, from overlaying parts of the Tabernacle and first Temple to Solomon’s drinking vessels (all were of gold, as silver seemed to be relatively worthless, see 1 Kings 10:21).
But what the people needed to remember, and Haggai was given this message to tell them, was that the LORD of hosts owned all the silver and gold. Even so, it is not clear why this verse is in this location.
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.
In Ezra 3, the older people who had returned from the Exile had indeed remembered the glory of Solomon’s Temple and wept when they saw the foundation of this post-Exilic temple being laid. The younger people rejoiced. Yet there was no mention of the Glory of the LORD returning to this temple so it is likely the LORD of Hosts is speaking of a temple still in the (distant?) future.
Then there is the promise of peace. This has not happened in hundreds of years, and it is doubtful and peace engineered or arranged by humans will ever last for any significant period of time until the Prince of Peace returns. According to this verse, peace will begin at this new Temple. May that day come quickly!
Here ends the second message from the LORD through Haggai to the designated audience. There is no description of how the people responded to this message. The third message begins in the next verse.
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV).