On December 18 of the second year of King Darius’s reign, the LORD sent this message to the prophet Haggai:
“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says. Ask the priests this question about the law:
‘If one of you is carrying some meat from a holy sacrifice in his robes and his robe happens to brush against some bread or stew, wine or olive oil, or any other kind of food, will it also become holy?’” The priests replied, “No.”
Then Haggai asked, “If someone becomes ceremonially unclean by touching a dead person and then touches any of these foods, will the food be defiled?” And the priests answered, “Yes.”
Then Haggai responded, “That is how it is with this people and this nation, says the LORD . Everything they do and everything they offer is defiled by their sin.
Look at what was happening to you before you began to lay the foundation of the LORD ’s Temple.
When you hoped for a twenty-bushel crop, you harvested only ten. When you expected to draw fifty gallons from the winepress, you found only twenty.
I sent blight and mildew and hail to destroy everything you worked so hard to produce. Even so, you refused to return to me, says the LORD .
“Think about this eighteenth day of December, the day when the foundation of the LORD ’s Temple was laid. Think carefully.
I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.”
On that same day, December 18, the LORD sent this second message to Haggai:
“Tell Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, that I am about to shake the heavens and the earth.
I will overthrow royal thrones and destroy the power of foreign kingdoms. I will overturn their chariots and riders. The horses will fall, and their riders will kill each other.
“But when this happens, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, I will honor you, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, my servant. I will make you like a signet ring on my finger, says the LORD, for I have chosen you. I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”