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In the second year of Darius - , i. e., Hystaspis. The very first word of prophecy after the captivity betokens that they were restored, not yet as before, yet so, as to be hereafter, more than before. The earthly type, by God’s appointment, was fading away, that the heavenly truth might dawn. The earthly king was withdrawn, to make way for the heavenly. God had said of Jeconiah Jeremiah 22:30, “No man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Israel:” and so now prophecy begins to be dated by the years of a foreign earthly ruler, as in the Baptism of the Lord Himself Luke 3:1. Yet God gives back in mercy more than He withdraws in chastisement. The earthly rule is suspended, that people might look out more longingly for the heavenly.
In the sixth month - They counted by their own months, beginning with Nisan, the first of the ecclesiastical year (which was still used for holy purposes and in sacred history), although, having no more any kings, they dated their years by those of the empire, to which they were subject (See Zechariah 1:7; Zechariah 7:1) in the sixth month, part of our July and August, their harvest was past, and the dearth, which they, doubtless ascribed (as we do) to the seasons, and which Haggai pointed out to be a judgment from God, had set in for this year also. The months being lunar, the first day of the month was the festival of the new moon, a popular feast Proverbs 7:20 which their forefathers had kept Isaiah 1:13-14, while they neglected the weightier matters of the law, and which the religious in Israel had kept, even while separated from the worship at Jerusalem (2 Kings 4:23; add Amos 8:5; Hosea 2:11). In its very first day, when the grief for the barren year was yet fresh, Haggai was stirred to exhort them to consider their way; a pattern for Christian preachers, to bring home to people’s souls the meaning of God’s judgments. God directs the very day to be noted, in which He called the people anew to build His temple, both to show the readiness of their obedience, and a precedent to us to keep in memory days and seasons, in which He stirs our souls to build more diligently His spiritual temple in our souls .
By the hand of Haggai - God does almost everything which He does for a person through the hands of people. He commits His words and works for people into the hands of human beings as His stewards, to dispense faithfully to His household. Luke 12:42. Hence, He speaks so often of the law, which He commanded “by the hand of Moses;” but also as to other prophets, Nathan 2 Samuel 12:25, Ahijal, 1Ki 12:15; 1 Kings 14:16; 2 Chronicles 10:15. Jehu 1 Kings 16:7, Jonah 2 Kings 14:25, Isaiah Isaiah 20:2, Jeremiah Jeremiah 37:2, and the prophets generally. Hos. 7:20; 2 Chronicles 29:25 the very prophets of God, although gifted with a Divine Spirit, still were willing and conscious instruments in speaking His words.
Unto Zerubbabel - (so called from being born in Babylon) “the son of Sheatiel.” By this genealogy Zerubbabel is known in the history of the return from the captivity in Ezra and Nehemiah Ezra 3:2, Ezra 3:8; Ezra 5:2; Nehemiah 12:1. God does not say by Jeremiah, that Jeconiah should have no children, but that he should in his lifetime be childless, as it is said of those married to the uncle’s or brother’s widow Leviticus 20:20-21, “they shall die childless.” Jeremiah rather implies that he should have children, but that they should die untimely before him. For he calls Jeconiah Jeremiah 22:30, “a man who shall not prosper in his days; for there shall not prosper a man of his seed, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Israel.” He should die (as the word means) “bared” of all, alone and desolate. The own father of Shealtiel appears to have been Neri Luke 3:27, of the line of Nathan son of David; not, of the line of the kings of Judah. Neri married, one must suppose, a daughter of Assir, son of Jeconiah 1 Chronicles 3:17-19 whose grandson Shealtiel was; and Zerubbabel was the own son of Pedaiah, the brother of Shealtiel, as whose son he was in the legal genealogy inscribed, according to the law as to those who die childless Deuteronomy 23:5-10, or as having been adopted by Shealtiel being himself childless, as Moses was called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh Exodus 2:10. So broken was the line of the unhappy Jehoiachin, two thirds of whose own life was passed in the prison Jeremiah 52:31, into which Nebuchadnezzar did cast him.
Governor of Judah - The foreign name betokens that the civil rule was now held from a foreign power, although Cyrus showed the Jews the kindness of placing one of themselves, of royal extraction also, as his deputy over them.
The lineage of David is still in authority, connecting the present with the past, but the earthly kingdom had faded away. Under the name “Sheshbazzar” Zerubbabel is spoken of both as the “prince” and the “governor” Ezra 5:14, of Judah. With him is joined “Joshuah the son of Josedech, the high priest,” whose father went into captivity 1 Chronicles 6:15, when his grandfather Seraiah was slain by Nebuchadnezzar 2 Kings 25:18-21. The priestly line is also preserved. Haggai addresses these two, the one of the royal, the other of the priestly, line, as jointly responsible for the negligence of the people; he addresses the people only through them. Together, they are types of Him, the true King and true priest, Christ Jesus, who by the resurrection raised again the true temple, His Body, after it had been destroyed .
Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say - Not Zerubbabel or Joshua, but “this people.” He says not, “My people,” but reproachfully “this people,” as, in acts, disowning Him, and so deserving to be disowned by Him. “The time is not come,” literally “It is not time to come, time for the house of the Lord to be built” . They might yet sit still; the time for them “to come” was not yet, for not yet was the “time for the house of the Lord to be built.” Why it was not time, they did not say. The government did not help them; the original grant by Cyrus Ezra 3:7 was exhausted; the Samaritans hindered them, because they would not own them, (amid their mishmash of worship, “worshiping,” our Lord tells them John 4:22, “they know not what”), as worshipers of the same God. It was a bold excuse, if they said, that the 70 years during which the temple was to lie waste, were not yet ended.
The time had long since come, when, 16 years before, Cyrus had given command that the house of God should be built. The prohibition to build, under Artaxerxes or Pseudo-Smerdis, applied directly to the city and its walls, not to the temple, except so far as the temple itself, from its position, might be capable of being used as a fort, as it was in the last siege of, Jerusalem. Yet in itself a building of the size of the temple, apart from outer buildings, could scarcely so be used. The prohibition did not hinder the building of stately private houses, as appears from Haggai’s rebuke. The hindrances also, whatever they were, had not begun with that decree. The death of Pseudo-Smerdis had now, for a year, set them free, if had they had any zeal for the glory and service of God. Otherwise, Haggai would not blamed them. God, knowing that He would bend the heart of Darius, as He had that of Cyrus, requires the house to be built without the king’s decree. It was built in faith, that God would bring through what He had enjoined, although outward things were as adverse now as before. And what He commanded He prospered Ezra 5–6.
There was indeed a second fulfillment of 70 years, from the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar 586 b.c., to its consecration in the 6th year of Darius 516 b.c. But this was through the willfulness of man, prolonging the desolation decreed by God, and Jeremiah’s prophecy relates to the people not to the temple.
“The prophet addresses his discourse to the chiefs (in Church and state) and yet accuses directly, not their listlessness but that of the people, in order both to honor them before the people and to teach that their sins are to be blamed privately not publicly, lest their authority should be injured, and the people incited to rebel against them; and also to shew that this fault was directly that of the people, whom he reproves before their princes, that, being openly convicted before them, it might be ashamed, repent, and obey God; but that indirectly this fault touched the chiefs themselves, whose office it was to urge the people to this work of God” . “For seldom is the prince free from the guilt of his subjects, as either assenting to, or winking at them, or not coercing them, though able.”
Since also Christians are the temple of God, all this prophecy of Haggai is applicable to them . “When thou seest one who has lapsed thinking and preparing to build through chastity the temple which he had before destroyed through passion, and yet delaying day by day, say to him, ‘Truly thou also art of the people of the captivity, and sayest, The time is not yet come for building the house of the Lord.’ Whoso has once settled to restore the temple of God, to him every time is suited for building, and the prince, Satan, cannot hinder, nor, the enemies around. As soon as being thyself converted, thou callest upon the name of the Lord, He will say, “Behold Me” . “To him who willeth to do right, the time is always present; the good and right-minded have power to fulfill what is to the glory of God, in every time and place.”
And the word of the Lord came - o “Before, he prophesied nothing, but only recited the saying of the people; now he refutes it in his prophecy, and repeats, again and again, that he says this not of himself, but from the mind and mouth of God.” It is characteristic of Haggai to inculcate thus frequently, that his words are not his own, but the words of God. Yet “the prophets, both in their threats and prophecies, repeat again and again, “Thus saith the Lord,” teaching us, how we should prize the word of God, hang upon it, have it ever in our mouth, reverence, ruminate on, utter, praise it, make it our continual delight.”
Is it time for you - You, being what you are, the creatures of God, “to dwell in your ceiled houses,” more emphatically, in your houses, and those “ceiled,” probably with costly woods, such as cedar . But where then was the excuse of want of means? They imitated, in their alleged poverty, what is spoken of as magnificent in their old kings, Solomon and Shallum, but not having, as Solomon first did (1 Kings 6:9, ויספן), “covered the house of God with beams and rows of cedar” . “Will ye dwell in houses artificially adorned, not so much for use as for delight, and shall My dwelling-place, wherein was the Holy of holies, and the cherubim, and the table of showbread, be bestreamed with rains, desolated in solitude, scorched by the sun?”
“With these words carnal Christians are reproved, who have no glow of zeal for God, but are full of self-love, and so make no effort to repair, build, or strengthen the material temples of Christ, and houses assigned to His worship, when aged, ruinous, decaying or destroyed, but build for themselves curious, voluptuous, superfluous dwellings. In these the love of Christ gloweth not; these Isaiah threateneth, Isaiah 5:8, Isaiah 5:12. “Woe to you who join house to house and field to field, and regard not the work of the Lord!”
To David and Solomon the building of God’s temple was their heart’s desire; to early Christian Emperors, to the ages of faith, the building of Churches; now mostly, owners of lands build houses for this world’s profit, and leave it to the few to build in view of eternity, and for the glory of God.
And now, thus saith the Lord of hosts; “Consider,” (literally “set your heart upon) your ways,” what they had been doing, what they were doing, and what those doings had led to, and would lead to. This is ever present to the mind of the prophets, as speaking God’s words, that our acts are not only “ways” in which we go, each day of life being a continuance of the day before; but that they are ways which lead, somewhere in God’s Providence and His justice; to some end of the “way,” good or bad. So God says by Jeremiah Jeremiah 21:8. “I set before you the way of life and the way of death;” and David Psalms 16:11, “Thou wilt show me the path of life,” where it follows, “In Thy presence is the fullness of joy and at Thy Right Hand there are pleasures forevermore;” and Solomon Proverbs 6:23, “Reproofs of instruction are the way of life;” and, he is in Proverbs 10:17, “the way of life who keepeth instruction; and he who forsaketh rebuke, erreth;” and Proverbs 15:24, “The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath;” and of the adulterous woman, Proverbs 7:27. “Her house are the ways of hell, going down to the chambers of death” and Proverbs 5:5-6, “her feet go down unto death; her steps take hold on hell; lest thou shouldest ponder the path of life.” Again, Proverbs 14:12; Proverbs 16:25. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, and the end thereof are the ways of death;” and contrariwise Proverbs 4:18, “The path of the righteous is a shining light, shining more and more until the mid-day” Proverbs 2:13. “The ways of darkness” are the ways which end in darkness; and when Isaiah says Isaiah 59:8, “The way of peace hast thou not known,” he adds, “whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.” They who choose not peace for their way, shall not find peace in and for their end.
On these your ways, Haggai says, “set your hearts,” not thinking of them lightly, nor giving a passing thought to them, but fixing your minds upon them; as God says to Satan Job 1:8, “Hast thou set thy heart on My servant Job?” and God is said to set His eye or His face upon man for good Jeremiah 24:6; or for evil Jeremiah 21:10, He speaks also, not of setting the mind, applying the understanding, giving the thoughts, but of “setting the heart,” as the seat of the affections. It is not a dry weighing of the temporal results of their ways, but a loving dwelling upon them, for repentance without love is but the gnawing of remorse.
Set your heart on your ways; - i. e., your affections, thoughts, works, so as to be circumspect in all things; as the apostle Paul says 1 Timothy 5:21, “Do nothing without forethought,” i. e., without previous judgment of reason; and Solomon Proverbs 4:25, “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee;” and the son of Sirach, “Son, do nothing without counsel and when thou hast done it thou wilt not repent.” For since, according to a probable proposition, nothing in human acts is indifferent, i. e., involving neither good nor ill deserts, they who do not thus set their hearts upon their ways, do they not daily incur almost countless sins, in thought, word, desire, deed, yea and by omission of duties? Such are all fearless persons who heed not to fulfill what is written Proverbs 4:23, ‘Keep your heart with all watchfulness. ‘“
“He “sows much” to his own heart, but “brings in little,” who by reading and hearing knows much of the heavenly commands, but by negligence in deeds bears little fruit. “He eats and is not satisfied,” who, hearing the words of God, coveteth the gains or glory of the world. Well is he said not to be “satisfied,” who eateth one thing, hungereth after another. He drinks and is not inebriated, who inclineth his ear to the voice of preaching, but changeth not his mind. For through inebriation the mind of those who drink is changed. He then who is devoted to the knowledge of God’s word, yet still desireth to gain the things of the world, drinks and is not inebriated. For were he inebriated, no doubt he would have changed his mind and no longer seek earthly things, or love the vain and passing things which he had loved. For the Psalmist says of the elect Psalms 36:8, “they shall be inebriated with the richness of Thy house,” because they shall be filled with such love of Almighty God, that, their mind being changed, they seem to be strangers to themselves, fulfilling what is written Matthew 16:24, ‘If any will come after Me, let him deny himself. ‘“
Ye have sown much - The prophet expresses the habitualness of these visitations by a vivid present. He marks no time and so expresses the more vividly that it was at all times. It is one continually present evil. “Ye have sown much and there is a bringing in little; there is eating and not to satisfy; there is drinking and not to exhilarate; there is clothing and not to be warm It is not for the one or the other years, as, since the first year of Darius Hystaspis; it is one continued visitation, coordinate with one continued negligence. As long as the sin lasted, so long the punishment. The visitation itself was twofold; impoverished harvests, so as to supply less sustenance; and various indisposition of the frame, so that what would, by God’s appointment in nature, satisfy, gladden, warm, failed of its effect. “And he that laboreth for hire, gaineth himself hire into a bag full of holes” (literally “perforated.”) The labor pictured is not only fruitless, but wearisome and vexing. There is a seeming result of all the labor, something to allure hopes; but immediately it is gone. The pagan assigned a like baffling of hope as one of the punishments of hell , “Better and wiser to seek to be blessed by God, Who bestoweth on us all things. And this will readily come to those who choose to be of the same mind with Him and prefer what is for His glory to their own. For so saith the Saviour Himself to us Matthew 6:33, Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
“He loses good deeds by evil acts, who takes account of his good works, which he hits before his eyes, and forgets the faults which creep in between; or who, after what is good, returns to what is vain and evil” . “Money is seen in the pierced bag, when it is cast in, but when it is lost, it is not seen. They then who look how much they give, but do not weigh how much they gain wrongly, cast their rewards into a pierced bag. Looking to the Hope of their confidence they bring them together; not looking, they lose them.”
“They lose the fruit of their labor, by not persevering to the end, or by seeking human praise, or by vain glory within, not keeping spiritual riches under the guardianship of humility. Such are vain and unprofitable men, of whom the Saviour saith, Matthew 6:2. ‘Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. ‘“
Go up into the mountain - Not Mount Lebanon, from where the cedars had been brought for the first temple; from where also Zerubbabel and Joshua had procured some out of Cyrus’ grant Ezra 3:7, at the first return from the captivity. They were not required to buy, expend, but simply to give their own labor. They were themselves to “go up to the mountain,” i. e., the mountainous country where the trees grew, “and bring” them. So, in order to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, Ezra made a proclamation Nehemiah 8:15 “in all their cities and in Jerusalem, go ye up to the mountain and bring leafy branches of vines, olives, myrtles, palms.” The palms, anyhow, were timber. God required not goodly stones, such as had been already used, and such as hereafter, in the temple which was built, were the admiration even of disciples of Jesus Matthew 24:1, but which were, for the wickedness of those who rejected their Saviour, “not to be left, one stone upon another.” He required not costly gifts, but the heart. The neglect to build the temple was neglect of Himself, who ought to be worshiped there. His worship sanctified the offering; offerings were acceptable, only if made with a free heart.
And I will have pleasure in it - God, who has declared that He has no Micah 6:7 “pleasure in thousands of rams, ten thousands of rivers of oil,” had delight in Psalms 147:11 “them that feared Him,” that are “upright in their way,” Proverbs 11:20 that “deal truly” Proverbs 12:22 in the “prayer” of the “upright” Proverbs 15:8, and so in the temple too, when it should be built to His glory.
And will be glorified - o God is glorified in man, when man serves Him; in Himself, when He manifests aught of His greatness; in His great doings to His people Isaiah 26:15; Isaiah 44:23; Isaiah 60:21; Isaiah 61:3, as also in the chastisement of those who disobey Him Exodus 14:4; Ezekiel 28:22. God allows that glory, which shines ineffably throughout His creation, to be obscured here through man’s disobedience, to shine forth anew on his renewed obedience. The glory of God, as it is the end of the creation, so is it His creature’s supreme bliss. When God is really glorified, then can He show forth His glory, by His grace and acceptance. (Augustine, Serm. 380, n. 6.) “The glory of God is our glory. The more sweetly God is glorified, the more it profits us:” yet not our profit, but the glory of God is itself our end; so the prophet closes in that which is our end, “God will be glorified.”
“Good then and well-pleasing to God is zeal in fulfilling whatever may appear necessary for the good condition of the Church and its building-up, collecting the most useful materials, the spiritual principles in inspired Scripture, whereby he may secure and ground the conception of God, and may shew that the way of the Incarnation was well-ordered, and may collect what pertains to accurate knowledge of spiritual erudition and moral goodness. Nay, each of us may be thought of, as the temple and house of God. For Christ “dwelleth in us” by the Spirit, and we are “temples of the living God,” according to the Scripture 2 Corinthians 6:16. Let each then build up his own heart by right faith, having the Saviour as the “precious foundation.” And let him add thereto other materials, obedience, readiness for anything, courage, endurance, continence. “So being framed together by that which every joint supplieth, shall we become a holy temple, a habitation of God through the Spirit” Ephesians 4:16; Ephesians 2:21-22. But those who are slow to faith, or who believe but are sluggish in shaking off passions and sins and worldly pleasure, thereby cry out in a manner, The time is not come to build the house of the Lord.”
Ye looked - , literally “a looking;” as though he said, it has all been one looking, “for much,” for increase, the result of all sowing, in the way of nature: “and behold it came to little,” i. e., less than was sown; as Isaiah denounced to them of old by God’s word, Isaiah 5:10. “the seed of a homer shall yield an ephah,” i. e., one tenth of what was sown. “And ye brought it home, and I blew upon it,” so as to disperse it, as, not the wheat, but the chaff is blown before the wind. This, in whatever way it came to pass, was a further chastisement of God. The little seed which they brought in lessened through decay or waste. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. God asks by his prophet, what He asks in the awakened conscience Psalms 39:11. “God with rebukes chastens man for sin.” Conscience, when alive, confesses for “what” sin; or it asks itself, if memory does not supply the special sin. Unawakened, it complains about the excess of rain, the drought, the blight, the mildew, and asks, not itself, why, in God’s Providence, these inflictions came in these years? They felt doubtless the sterility in contrast with the exceeding prolificalness of Babylonia, as they contrasted the “light bread,” Numbers 21:5. the manna, with Numbers 11:5. the plenteousness of Egypt. They ascribed probably their meagre crops (as we mostly do) to mere natural causes, perhaps to the long neglect of the land during the captivity. God forces the question upon their consciences, in that Haggai asks it in His Name, in whose hands all powers stand, “saith the Lord of host.” They have not to talk it over among themselves, but to answer Almighty God, “why?” That “why?” strikes into the inmost depths of conscience!
Because of My house which is waste, and ye run - literally, “are running,” all the while, “each to his own house” They were absorbed in their material interests, and had no time for those of God. When the question was of God’s house, they stir not from the spot; when it is of their own concerns, they run. Our Lord says, Matthew 6:33. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Man reverses this, seeks his own things first, and God withholds His blessing.
“This comes true of those who prefer their own conveniences to God’s honor, who do not thoroughly uproot self-love, whose penitence and devotion are shewn to be unstable, for on a slight temptation they are overcome. Such are they who are bold, self-pleasing, wise and great in their own eyes, who do not ground their conversation on true and solid humility.”
(Cyr.) “To those who are slow to fulfill what is for the glory of God, and the things whereby His house, the Church, is firmly stayed, neither the heavenly dew cometh, which enricheth hearts and minds, nor the fruitfulness of the earth; i. e., right action; not food nor wine nor use of oil. But they will be ever strengthless and joyless, unenriched by spiritual oil, and remain without taste or participation of the blessing through Christ.”
Therefore, for you, - on your account; (As in Ps. 44:43.) for your sins, (Jon.) He points out the moral cause of the drought, whereas men think of this or that cause of the variations of the seasons, and we, e. g., take into our mouths Scriptural words, as “murrain of cattle,” and the like, and think of nothing less than why it was sent, or who sent it. Haggai directs the mind to the higher Cause, that as they withheld their service from God, so, on their account and by His will, His creatures withheld their service from them.
And I called for a drought upon the land - God called to the people and they would not hear. It is His ever-repeated complaint to them. “I called unto you, and ye would not hear.” He called to His inanimate creatures to punish them, and “they” obeyed. So Elisha tells the woman, whose son he had restored to life, 2 Kings 8:1. “The Lord hath called to the famine, and it shall also come to the land seven years.”
And upon men, - in that the drought was oppressive to man. The prophet may also allude to the other meaning of the word, “waste,” “desolation.” They had left the house of the Lord “waste,” therefore God called for waste, desolation, upon them.
Then Zerubbabel, and all the remnant of the people - , not, “the rest of people” but “the remnant,” those who remained over from the captivity, the fragment of the two tribes, which returned to their own land, “hearkened unto the voice of the Lord.” This was the beginning of a conversion. In this one thing they began to do, what, all along, in their history, and most in their decay before the captivity they refused to do - obey God’s word. So God sums up their history, by Jeremiah, Jeremiah 22:21. “I spake unto thee in thy prosperity, thou saidst, I will not hear. This is thy way from thy youth, that thou hearkenedst not unto My voice.” Zephaniah 3:2 still more briefly , “she hearkened not unto (any) voice.” Now in reference, it seems, to that account of their disobedience, Haggai says, using the self-same formula , “they hearkened unto the voice of the Lord, “according to the words of Haggai.” They obeyed, not vaguely, or partly, but exactly, “according to the words” which the messenger of God spake.
And they feared the Lord - o “Certainly the presence of the Divine Majesty is to be teared with great reverence.” “The fear of punishment at times transports the mind to what is better, and the infliction of sorrows harmonizes the mind to the fear of God; and that of the Proverbs comes true, Proverbs 13:13. “He that feareth the Lord shall be recompensed,” and Proverbs 19:23 “the fear of the Lord tendeth to life;” and Wisdom (Ecclesiasticus 1:11). “The fear of the Lord is honor and glory, and Proverbs 19:12 the fear of the Lord shall rejoice the heart, and giveth joy and gladness and a long life.” See how gently and beseemingly God smites us.”
“See how the lovingkindness of God immediately goes along with all changes for the better. For Almighty God changes along with those who will to repent, and promises that He will be with them; which what can equal? For when God is with us, all harm will depart from us, all good come in to us.”
And Haggai, the Lord’s messenger - Malachi, whose own name was framed to express that he was “the Lord’s messenger,” and Haggai alone use the title, as the title of a prophet; perhaps as forerunners of the great prophet whom Malachi announced. Malachi also speaks of the priest, as Malachi 2:7 “the messenger of the Lord of hosts,” and prophesies of John Baptist as Malachi 3:1 “the messenger” of the Lord, who should go before His face. Haggai, as he throughout repeats that his words were God’s words, frames a new word to express, in the language of the New Testament; 2 Corinthians 5:20 that he had an embassy from God; “in the Lord’s message.”
I am with you - All the needs and longings of the creature are summed up in those two words, “I with you.” “Who art Thou and who am I? Thou, He Who Is; I, he who am not;” nothing, yea worse than nothing. Yet “if Romans 8:31, God be for us,” Paul asks, “who can be against us?” Our blessed Lord’s parting promise to the Apostles, and in them to the Church, was, Matthew 28:20. “Lo I am with you alway, even to the end of the world.” The all-containing assurance goes beyond any particular promise of aid, as , “I will help you, and will protect you, so that your building shall have its completion.” This is one fruit of it , “since I am in the midst of you, no one shall be able to hinder your building.” But, more widely, the words bespeak “His” presence in love, who knows all our needs, and is Almighty to support and save us in all. So David says Psalms 23:4, “when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me:” and God says by another Psalms 91:15, I will be “with him in trouble,” and by Isaiah Isaiah 43:2, “When thou passest through the waters,” I will be “with thee.”
And the Lord stirred up the spirit - The words are used of any strong impulse from God to fulfill His will, whether in those who execute His will unknowingly as Pul 1 Chronicles 5:26, to carry off the trans-Jordanic tribes, or the Philistines and Arabians against Jehoram, 2 Chronicles 21:16. or the Medes against Babylon Jeremiah 51:11, or knowingly, as of Cyrus to restore God’s people and rebuild the temple Ezra 1:1, or of the people themselves to return Ezra 1:5 , “The spirit of Zerubbabel and the spirit of Joshua were stirred, that the government and priesthood may build the temple of God: the spirit of the people too, which before was asleep in them; not the body, not the soul, but the spirit. which knoweth best how to build the temple of God.” “The Holy Spirit is stirred up in us, that we should enter the house of the Lord, and do the works of the Lord.”
“Again, observe that they did not set themselves to choose to do what should please God, before He was with them and stirred up their spirit. We shall know hence also, that although one choose zealously to do good and be in earnest therein, yet he will accomplish nothing, unless God be with him, raising him up to dare, and sharpening him to endure, and removing all torpor. For so the wondrous Paul says of those entrusted with the divine preaching 1 Corinthians 15:11, I labored more abundantly than they all, yet added very wisely, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me, and the Saviour Himself saith to the holy Apostles, John 15:5. Without Me ye can do nothing. For He is our desire, He, our courage to any good work; He our strength, and, if He is with us, we shall do well Ephesians 2:21-22, building ourselves to a holy temple, a habitation of God in the Spirit; if He depart and withdraws, how should any doubt, that we should fail, overcome by sluggishness and want of courage?”
In the four and twentieth day of the month - The interval of twenty-three days must have been spent in preparation, since the message came on the first of the month, and the obedience was immediate.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Haggai 1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18