Greater glory promised to the second temple than to the first. (1-9) Their sins hindered the work. (10-19) The kingdom of Christ foretold. (20-23)
Verses 1-9 Those who are hearty in the Lord's service shall receive encouragement to proceed. But they could not build such a temple then, as Solomon built. Though our gracious God is pleased if we do as well as we can in his service, yet our proud hearts will scarcely let us be pleased, unless we do as well as others, whose abilities are far beyond ours. Encouragement is given the Jews to go on in the work notwithstanding. They have God with them, his Spirit and his special presence. Though he chastens their transgressions, his faithfulness does not fail. The Spirit still remained among them. And they shall have the Messiah among them shortly; "He that should come." Convulsions and changes would take place in the Jewish church and state, but first should come great revolutions and commotions among the nations. He shall come, as the Desire of all nations; desirable to all nations, for in him shall all the earth be blessed with the best of blessings; long expected and desired by all believers. The house they were building should be filled with glory, very far beyond Solomon's temple. This house shall be filled with glory of another nature. If we have silver and gold, we must serve and honour God with it, for the property is his. If we have not silver and gold, we must honour him with such as we have, and he will accept us. Let them be comforted that the glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former, in what would be beyond all the glories of the first house, the presence of the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lord of glory, personally, and in human nature. Nothing but the presence of the Son of God, in human form and nature, could fulfil this. Jesus is the Christ, is He that should come, and we are to look for no other. This prophecy alone is enough to silence the Jews, and condemn their obstinate rejection of Him, concerning whom all their prophets spake. If God be with us, peace is with us. But the Jews under the latter temple had much trouble; but this promise is fulfilled in that spiritual peace which Jesus Christ has by his blood purchased for all believers. All changes shall make way for Christ to be desired and valued by all nations. And the Jews shall have their eyes opened to behold how precious He is, whom they have hitherto rejected.
Verses 10-19 Many spoiled this good work, by going about it with unholy hearts and hands, and were likely to gain no advantage by it. The sum of these two rules of the law is, that sin is more easily learned from others than holiness. The impurity of their hearts and lives shall make the work of their hands, and all their offerings, unclean before God. The case is the same with us. When employed in any good work, we should watch over ourselves, lest we render it unclean by our corruptions. When we begin to make conscience of duty to God, we may expect his blessing; and whoso is wise will understand the loving-kindness of the Lord. God will curse the blessings of the wicked, and make bitter the prosperity of the careless; but he will sweeten the cup of affliction to those who diligently serve him.
Verses 20-23 The Lord will preserve Zerubbabel and the people of Judah, amidst their enemies. Here is also foretold the establishment and continuance of the kingdom of Christ; by union with whom his people are sealed with the Holy Ghost, sealed with his image, thus distinguished from all others. Here also is foretold the changes, even to that time when the kingdom of Christ shall overthrow and occupy the place of all the empires which opposed his cause. The promise has special reference to Christ, who descended from Zerubbabel in a direct line, and is the sole Builder of the gospel temple. Our Lord Jesus is the Signet on God's right hand, for all power is given to him, and derived from him. By him, and in him, all the promises of God are yea and amen. Whatever changes take place on earth, all will promote the comfort, honour, and happiness of his servants.
Haggai 2:1-9 . SECOND PROPHECY. 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.
1. seventh month--of the Hebrew year; in the second year of Darius reign ( Haggai 1:1 ); not quite a month after they had begun the work ( Haggai 1:15 ). This prophecy was very shortly before that of Zechariah.
3. Who is left . . . that saw . . . first glory--Many elders present at the laying of the foundation of the second temple who had seen the first temple ( Ezra 3:12 Ezra 3:13 ) 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 ( Zechariah 1:12 ); 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 ( Haggai 2:9 ).
how do ye see it now?--God's estimate of things is very different from man's ( Zechariah 8:6 ; compare 1 Samuel 16:7 ). However low their estimate of the present temple ("it") from its outward inferiority, God holds it superior ( Zechariah 4:10 , 1 Corinthians 1:27 1 Corinthians 1:28 ).
4. be strong . . . for I am with you--The greatest strength is to have Jehovah with us as our strength. Not in man's "might," but in that of God's Spirit ( Zechariah 4:6 ).
5. According to the word that--literally, "(I am with you) the word (or thing) which I covenanted"; that is, I am with you as I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt ( Exodus 19:5 Exodus 19:6 , Exodus 34:10 Exodus 34:11 ). The covenant promise of God to the elect people at Sinai is an additional motive for their persevering. The Hebrew for to "covenant" is literally "to cut," alluding to the sacrificial victims cut in ratification of a covenant.
my Spirit remaineth among you--to strengthen you for the work ( Haggai 1:14 , Zechariah 4:6 ). The inspiration of Haggai and Zechariah at this time was a specimen of the presence of God's Spirit remaining still with His people, as He had been with Moses and Israel of old ( Ezra 5:1 , Isaiah 63:11 ).
6. Yet once, it is a little while--or, "(it is) yet a little while." The Hebrew for "once" expresses the indefinite article "a" [MAURER]. Or, "it is yet only a little while"; literally, "one little," that is, a single brief space till a series of movements is to begin; namely, the shakings of nations soon to begin which are to end in the advent of Messiah, "the desire of all nations" [MOORE]. The shaking of nations implies judgments of wrath on the foes of God's people, to precede the reign of the Prince of peace ( Isaiah 13:13 ). The kingdoms of the world are but the scaffolding for God's spiritual temple, to be thrown down when their purpose is accomplished. The transitoriness of all that is earthly should lead men to seek "peace" in Messiah's everlasting kingdom ( Haggai 2:9 , Hebrews 12:27 Hebrews 12:28 ) [MOORE]. The Jews in Haggai's times hesitated about going forward with the work, through dread of the world power, Medo-Persia, influenced by the craft of Samaria. The prophet assures them this and all other world powers are to fall before Messiah, who is to be associated with this temple; therefore they need fear naught. So Hebrews 12:26 , which quotes this passage; the apostle compares the heavier punishment which awaits the disobedient under the New Testament with that which met such under the Old Testament. At the establishment of the Sinaitic covenant, only the earth was shaken to introduce it, but now heaven and earth and all things are to be shaken, that is, along with prodigies in the world of nature, all kingdoms that stand in the way of Messiah's kingdom, "which cannot be shaken," are to be upturned ( Daniel 2:35 Daniel 2:44 , Matthew 21:44 ). Hebrews 12:27 , "Yet once more," favors English Version. Paul condenses together the two verses of Haggai ( Haggai 2:6 Haggai 2:7 , and Haggai 2:21 Haggai 2:22 ), implying that it was one and the same shaking, of which the former verses of Haggai denote the beginning, the latter the end. The shaking began introductory to the first advent; it will be finished at the second. Concerning the former, compare Matthew 3:17 , 27:51 , 28:2 , Acts 2:2 , 4:31 ; concerning the latter, Matthew 24:7 , Revelation 16:20 , 18:20 , 20:11 [BENGEL]. There is scarcely a prophecy of Messiah in the Old Testament which does not, to some extent at least, refer to His second coming [SIR ISAAC NEWTON]. Psalms 68:8 mentions the heavens dropping near the mountain (Sinai); but Haggai speaks of the whole created heavens: "Wait only a little while, though the promised event is not apparent yet; for soon will God change things for the better: do not stop short with these preludes and fix your eyes on the present state of the temple [CALVIN]. God shook the heavens by the lightnings at Sinai; the earth, that it should give forth waters; the sea, that it should be divided asunder. In Christ's time God shook the heaven, when He spake from it; the earth, when it quaked; the sea, when He commanded the winds and waves [GROTIUS]. CICERO records at the time of Christ the silencing of the heathen oracles; and DIO, the fall of the idols in the Roman capitol.
7. shake--not convert; but cause that agitation which is to precede Messiah's coming as the healer of the nations' agitations. The previous shaking shall cause the yearning "desire" for the Prince of peace. MOORE and others translate "the beauty," or "the desirable things (the precious gifts) of all nations shall come" ( Isaiah 60:5 Isaiah 60:11 , 61:6 ). He brings these objections to applying "the desire of all nations" to Messiah: (1) The Hebrew means the quality, not the thing desired, namely, its desirableness or beauty, But the abstract is often put for the concrete. So "a man of desires," that is, one desired or desirable ( Daniel 9:23 , 10:11 , Margin; Daniel 10:3 , Margin). (2) Messiah was not desired by all nations, but "a root out of a dry ground," having "no beauty that we should desire Him" ( Isaiah 53:2 ). But what is implied is not that the nations definitely desired Him, but that He was the only one to satisfy the yearning desires which all felt unconsciously for a Saviour, shown in their painful rites and bloody sacrifices. Moreover, while the Jews as a nation desired Him not (to which people Isaiah 53:2 refers), the Gentiles, who are plainly pointed out by "all nations," accepted Him; and so to them He was peculiarly desirable. (3) The verb, "shall come," is plural, which requires the noun to be understood in the plural, whereas if Messiah be intended, the noun is singular. But when two nouns stand together, of which one is governed by the other, the verb agrees sometimes in number with the latter, though it really has the former as its nominative, that is, the Hebrew "come" is made in number to agree with "nations," though really agreeing with "the desire." Besides, Messiah may be described as realizing in Himself at His coming "the desires (the noun expressing collectively the plural) of all nations"; whence the verb is plural. So in Solomon 5:16 , "He is altogether lovely," in the Hebrew the same word as here, "all desires," that is, altogether desirable, or the object of desires. (4) Haggai 2:8 , "The silver is mine," &c. accords with the translation, "the choice things of all nations" shall be brought in. But Haggai 2:8 harmonizes quite as well with English Version of Haggai 2:7 , as the note on eighth verse Syriac versions agree with MOORE'S translation. But Vulgate confirms English Version. So also early Jewish Rabbis before JEROME'S time. PLATO [Alcibiades, 2] shows the yearning of the Gentiles after a spiritual deliverer: "It is therefore necessary," says Alcibiades on the subject of acceptable worship, "to wait until One teach us how we ought to behave towards the gods and men." Alcibiades replies, "When shall that time arrive, and who shall that Teacher be? For most glad would I be to see such a man." The "good tidings of great joy" were "to all people" ( Luke 2:10 ). The Jews, and those in the adjoining nations instructed by them, looked for Shiloh to come unto whom the gathering of the people was to be, from Jacob's prophecy ( Genesis 49:10 ). The early patriarchs, Job ( Job 19:25-27 , 33:23-26 ) and Abraham ( John 8:56 ), desired Him.
fill this house with glory--( Haggai 2:9 ). As the first temple was filled with the cloud of glory, the symbol of God ( 1 Kings 8:11 , 2 Chronicles 5:14 ), so this second temple was filled with the "glory" of God ( John 1:14 ) veiled in the flesh (as it were in the cloud) at Christ's first coming, when He entered it and performed miracles there ( Matthew 21:12-14 ); but that "glory" is to be revealed at His second coming, as this prophecy in its ulterior reference foretells ( Malachi 3:1 ). The Jews before the destruction of Jerusalem all expected Messiah would appear in the second temple. Since that time they invent various forced and false interpretations of such plain Messianic prophecies.
8. The silver is mine--( Job 41:11 , Psalms 50:12 ). Ye are disappointed at the absence of these precious metals in the adorning of this temple, as compared with the first temple: If I pleased I could adorn this temple with them, but I will adorn it with a "glory" ( Haggai 2:7 Haggai 2:9 ) far more precious; namely, with the presence of My divine Son in His veiled glory first, and at His second coming with His revealed glory, accompanied with outward adornment of gold and silver, of which the golden covering within and without put on by Herod is the type. Then shall the nations bring offerings of those precious metals which ye now miss so much ( Isaiah 2:3 , Isaiah 60:3 Isaiah 60:6 Isaiah 60:7 , Ezekiel 43:2 Ezekiel 43:4 Ezekiel 43:5 , 44:4 ). The heavenly Jerusalem shall be similarly adorned, but shall need "no temple" ( Revelation 21:10-22 ). Compare 1 Corinthians 3:12 , where gold and silver represent the most precious things ( Zechariah 2:5 ). The inward glory of New Testament redemption far exceeds the outward glory of the Old Testament dispensation. So, in the case of the individual poor believer, God, if He pleased, could bestow gold and silver, but He bestows far better treasures, the possession of which might be endangered by that of the former ( James 2:5 ).
9. The glory of this latter house . . . greater than of the former--namely, through the presence of Messiah, in (whose) face is given the light of the knowledge of the glory of God ( 2 Corinthians 4:6 ; compare Hebrews 1:2 ), and who said of Himself, "in thi s place is one greater than the temple" ( Matthew 12:6 ), and who "sat daily teaching in it" ( Matthew 26:55 ). Though Zerubbabel's temple was taken down to the foundations when Herod rebuilt the temple, the latter was considered, in a religious point of view, as not a third temple, but virtually the second temple.
in this place . . . peace--namely, at Jerusalem, the metropolis of the kingdom of God, whose seat was the temple: where Messiah "made peace through the blood of His cross" ( Colossians 1:20 ). Thus the "glory" consists in this "peace." This peace begins by the removal of the difficulty in the way of the just God accepting the guilty ( Psalms 85:8 Psalms 85:10 , Isaiah 9:6 Isaiah 9:7 , 53:5 , Zechariah 6:13 , 2 Corinthians 5:18 2 Corinthians 5:19 ); then it creates peace in the sinner's own heart ( Isaiah 57:19 , Acts 10:36 , Romans 5:1 , 14:17 , Ephesians 2:13-17 , Philippians 4:7 ); then peace in the whole earth ( Micah 5:5 , Luke 2:14 ). First peace between God and man, then between man and God, then between man and man ( Isaiah 2:4 , Hosea 2:18 , Zechariah 9:10 ). As "Shiloh" ( Genesis 49:10 ) means peace, this verse confirms the view that Haggai 2:7 , "the desire of all nations," refers to Shiloh or Messiah, foretold in Genesis 49:10 .
Haggai 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.
10. four and twentieth day . . . ninth month--three days more than two months from the second prophecy ( Haggai 2:1 ); in the month Chisleu, the lunar one about the time of our December. The Jews seem to have made considerable progress in the work in the interval ( Haggai 2:15-18 ).
11. Ask . . . the priests--Propose this question to them on the law. The priests were the authorized expounders of the law ( Leviticus 10:11 , Deuteronomy 33:10 , Ezekiel 44:23 , Malachi 2:7 ).
12. "Holy flesh" (that is, the flesh of a sacrifice, Jeremiah 11:15 ), indeed, makes holy the "skirt" in which it is carried; but that "skirt" cannot impart its sanctity to any thing beyond, as "bread," &c. ( Leviticus 6:27 ). This is cited to illustrate the principle, that a sacrifice, holy, as enveloping divine things (just as the "skirt" is "holy" which envelops "holy" flesh), cannot by its inherent or opus operatum efficacy make holy a person whose disobedience, as that of the Jew while neglecting God's house, made him unholy.
13. On the other hand, a legally "unclean" person imparts his uncleanness to any thing, whereas a legally holy thing cannot confer its sanctity on an "unclean" person ( Numbers 19:11 Numbers 19:13 Numbers 19:22 ). Legal sanctity is not so readily communicated as legal impurity. So the paths to sin are manifold: the paths to holiness one, and that one of difficult access [GROTIUS]. One drop of filth will defile a vase of water: many drops of water will not purity a vase of filth [MOORE].
14. Then answered Haggai--rather, "Then Haggai answered (in rejoinder to the priests' answer) and said" [MAURER].
so is this people--heretofore not in such an obedient state of mind as to deserve to be called My people ( Titus 1:15 ). Here he applies the two cases just stated. By the first case, "this people" is not made "holy" by their offerings "there" (namely, on the altar built in the open air, under Cyrus, Ezra 3:3 ); though the ritual sacrifice can ordinarily sanctify outwardly so far as it reaches ( Hebrews 9:13 ), as the "holy flesh" sanctified the "skirt," yet it cannot make the offerers in their persons and all their works acceptable to God, because lacking the spirit of obedience ( 1 Samuel 15:22 ) so long as they neglected to build the Lord's house. On the contrary, by the second case, they made "unclean" their very offerings by being unclean through "dead works" (disobedience), just as the person unclean by contact with a dead body imparted his uncleanness to all that he touched (compare Hebrews 9:14 ). This all applies to them as they had been, not as they are now that they have begun to obey; the design is to guard them against falling back again. The "there" points to the altar, probably in view of the audience which the prophet addressed.
15. consider--literally, "lay it to heart." Ponder earnestly, retracing the past "upward" (that is, backward), comparing what evils heretofore befell you before ye set about this work, with the present time when you have again commenced it, and when in consequence I now engage to "bless you." Hence ye may perceive the evils of disobedience and the blessing of obedience.
16. Since those days were--from the time that those days of your neglect of the temple work have been.
when one came to an heap of twenty measures--that is to a heap which he had expected would be one of twenty measures, there were but ten.
fifty vessels out of the press--As the Septuagint translates "measure," and Vulgate "a flagon," and as we should rather expect vat than press. MAURER translates (omitting vessels, which is not in the original), "purahs," or "wine-measures."
17. Appropriated from Amos 4:9 , whose canonicity is thus sealed by Haggai's inspired authority; in the last clause, "turned," however, has to be supplied, its omission marking by the elliptical abruptness ("yet ye not to Me!") God's displeasure. Compare "(let him come) unto Me!" Moses in excitement omitting the bracketed words ( Exodus 32:26 ). "Blasting" results from excessive drought; "mildew, from excessive moisture.
18. Resumed from Haggai 2:15 after Haggai 2:16 Haggai 2:17 , that the blessing in Haggai 2:19 may stand in the more marked contrast with the curse in Haggai 2:16 Haggai 2:17 . Affliction will harden the heart, if not referred to God as its author [MOORE].
even from the day that the foundation of . . . temple was laid--The first foundation beneath the earth had been long ago laid in the second year of Cyrus, 535 B.C. ( Ezra 3:10 Ezra 3:11 ); the foundation now laid was the secondary one, which, above the earth, was laid on the previous work [TIRINUS]. Or, translate, "From this day on which the temple is being begun," namely, on the foundations long ago laid [GROTIUS]. MAURER translates, "Consider . . . from the four and twentieth day . . . to (the time which has elapsed) from the day on which the foundation . . . was laid." The Hebrew supports English Version.
19. Is the seed yet in the barn?--implying, It is not. It has been already sown this month, and there are no more signs of its bearing a good crop, much less of its being safely stored in the barn, than there were in the past season, when there was such a failure; yet I promise to you from this day (emphatically marking by the repetition the connection of the blessing with the day of their obedience) a blessing in an abundant harvest. So also the vine, &c., which heretofore have borne little or nothing, shall be blessed with productiveness. Thus it will be made evident that the blessing is due to Me, not to nature. We may trust God's promise to bless us, though we see no visible sign of its fulfilment ( Habakkuk 2:3 ).
Haggai 2:20-23 . FOURTH PROPHECY. God's promise through Zerubbabel to Israel of safety in the coming commotions.
20. the month--the ninth in the second year of Darius. The same date as Prophecy III ( Haggai 2:10 ).
21. to Zerubbabel--Perhaps Zerubbabel had asked as to the convulsions foretold ( Haggai 2:6 Haggai 2:7 ). This is the reply: The Jews had been led to fear that these convulsions would destroy their national existence. Zerubbabel, therefore, as their civil leader and representative is addressed, not Joshua, their religious leader. Messiah is the antitypical Zerubbabel, their national Representative and King, with whom God the Father makes the covenant wherein they, as identified with Him, are assured of safety in God's electing love (compare Haggai 2:23 , "will make thee as a signet"; "I have chosen thee").
shake . . . violent political convulsions accompanied with physical prodigies ( Matthew 24:7 Matthew 24:29 ).
22. All other world kingdoms are to be overthrown to make way for Christ's universal kingdom ( Daniel 2:44 ). War chariots are to give place to His reign of peace ( Micah 5:10 , Zechariah 9:10 ).
23. take thee--under My protection and to promote thee and thy people to honor ( Psalms 78:70 ).
a signet--( Solomon 8:6 , Jeremiah 22:24 ). A ring with a seal on it; the legal representative of the owner; generally of precious stones and gold, &c., and much valued. Being worn on the finger, it was an object of constant regard. In all which points of view the theocratic people, and their representative, Zerubbabel the type, and Messiah his descendant the Antitype, are regarded by God. The safety of Israel to the end is guaranteed in Messiah, in whom God hath chosen them as His own ( Isaiah 42:1 , 43:10 , 44:1 , 49:3 ). So the spiritual Israel is sealed in their covenant head by His Spirit ( 2 Corinthians 1:20 2 Corinthians 1:22 , Ephesians 1:4 Ephesians 1:13 Ephesians 1:14 ). All is ascribed, not to the merits of Zerubbabel, but to God's gratuitous choice. Christ is the "signet" on God's hand: always in the Father's presence, ever pleasing in his sight. The signet of an Eastern monarch was the sign of delegated authority; so Christ ( Matthew 28:18 , John 5:22 John 5:23 ).