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Bible Commentaries

Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

Haggai 1

Verses 1-11

Analysis and Annotations

CHAPTER 1:1-11 Haggai’s First Address

1. The introduction (Habakkuk 1:1 )

2. The reproof (Habakkuk 1:2-6 )

3. Consider your ways (Habakkuk 1:7-11 )

Habakkuk 1:1 . Darius Hystaspes had been king one year and had entered upon the second year, 520 B.C., when, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, the word of the Lord was given by Haggai. It was addressed to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the son of josedech, the high-priest. Zerubbabel and Joshua were the prominent civic and religious leaders of that day. Zerubbabel was the son of Shealtiel (which means asking of God in prayer). Zerubbabel (sown in Babylon) was of royal seed, in direct line of descent from David. In Ezra this princely leader is called by his Persian name Sheshbazzar. In the genealogy of Luke 3:27 he is called a son of Neri, a descendant of David through his son Nathan; he is also called a son of Pedaiah. These divergent statements have been satisfactorily explained by the law of the Levirate marriage Deuteronomy 25:10 .

Joshua is mentioned several times in Zechariah. He was the first high-priest after the captivity, and is called in Ezra and Nehemiah Jeshua, the name Joshua transcribed into Greek. He and Zerubbabel are prophetic types of our Lord as the King-Priest. Joshua was the son of Josedech (Jehozadak) the high-priest who was taken by the Babylonians into captivity 1 Chronicles 6:15 , and was the grandson of Seraiah, who was put to death by Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah, after the capture of Jerusalem.

Habakkuk 1:2-6 . His message starts with the excuse which the people offered for the apathy in the things of God. “This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built.” The Lord does not address them as “My people,” but in a way which is deprecatory. It was an empty excuse, that His time had not yet come; in reality they were cold towards the cause of the Lord, and sought their own things in place of it. In their indifferent spirit they probably took the relation to Persia, produced by the Samaritan interference, as the ground of their opinion, that it was not the time to come and finish the task. They were an ungrateful people and should have known better. The Lord, who had announced through Isaiah that Cyrus should be born and say, “Let Jerusalem be built,” who raised up Cyrus, whom the prophet had named so many years before he was born; the Lord who had brought them back to the land and prospered them, would certainly give them the victory over all their enemies and make the building of the house possible. They hid behind the unreasonable excuse, it is not the time. How often the same excuse has been used by the professing people of God in our age!

Then the Lord answers them. “is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your ceiled houses, while this house lieth waste?” They had begun well, as we read in Ezra 3:1-13 , when they set the altar upon its bases. But now they had departed from their endeavor; the interest in the one thing had waned, and selfish aims were substituted. They were living in luxurious houses, while His house was completely neglected, it was in a waste condition. The insincerity of their vain excuse was therefore exposed.

Then comes the exhortation to consider their ways (literally: set your heart upon your ways). Had it been profitable for them? No. Ever since they left off building His house bitter disappointment had been their lot. All their self-seeking brought them no gain, but steady loss. The Lord’s blessing, given to His earthly people concerning earthly things, had been withholden. They had sown much seed; there was a scanty return. They had not been satisfied in eating or drinking. Their clothing was insufficient. The wages they earned may have been good wages, but it was as if they put them in a bag with holes; the great part of them was lost. While all this must be considered on the ground of the Jew, the principle nevertheless holds good for us as well. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” Matthew 6:33 , also refers primarily to the believing Jew, yet it has its application for us. The heart of the believer must always seek Him first. The life of a child of God must always be devoted to Him and the things of God. Our business is to care for His things; His gracious business is to care for us in all things. Neglect of the things of God always brings the same bitter disappointment.

Habakkuk 1:7-11 . Consider your ways; the Lord spoke again. And now He commands them to go to the mountains and fetch wood and to build the house. He declares that He will take pleasure in it and that He will be glorified. How graciously He craves the whole-heartedness of His people and their full devotion to Himself. It is in worship, indicated by the building of the house, that we glorify Him. It is worshippers the Father seeketh, worshippers in spirit and in truth John 4:1-54 .

On account of their neglect, neglect of Himself and the honor of His Name, as centered in the house, He could not give the blessing He is so willing to bestow upon His people. He withheld the dew and the rain; He prevented the fruitfulness of the fields, and all else was stunted, on account of their attitude toward Him.

“It was Jehovah who blighted their selfish efforts. He was dealing with them on account of their unbelief and neglect. It was not because He loved them not, but because He did. ‘Whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.’ When the Lord allows persons to go away without rebuke, it is the sure sign that all practical bond is broken--if any bond did exist--that He now disowns them, for a time at least. Hence these very chastenings of the Jewish remnant were the proof that His eyes were still over them, and that He felt their negligence of Him and resented--in divine faithfulness--the failure of His people in the care of His glory” (William Kelly) .

Verses 12-15

CHAPTER 1:12-15

The Second Address

The spirit of God carried home the burning message of rebuke, and that happened which did not happen with the generation before the captivity. They considered their ways. They took it to heart. They knew the Lord had spoken, and that He was right, the rebuke well earned. Happy are all those who act always in this way, who humble themselves and are obedient to the Lord. It is a refreshing scene which the twelfth verse records. They all united, Zerubbabel, Joshua, and all the remnant of the people. There was not one dissenting voice. They all obeyed the Lord and the words of the prophet.

“Then Haggai, the LORD’S messenger, spoke again in the LORD’S message unto the people.” It is striking how it is made prominent that he did not speak of himself, but was the Lord’s messenger and brought the Lord’s message. Would to God that all those who claim the dignity of a minister of the gospel were all the Lord’s messengers, and spake nothing but the Lord’s message. The greatest curse in Christendom today is the man who claims to be the Lord’s servant, but has no message from the Lord, for the reason that he has lost faith in the Word of God.

Another has pointed out the fact that Haggai is the one prophet who is directly called Jehovah’s messenger. He is the least of the post-exilic prophets, yet the Lord puts this honor upon him. In spite of his inferior style, according to the critics, the Lord owns him by this title of distinction.

And what was his message at this time? “I am with you, saith the LORD.” That is the content of the second address; just one sentence. But what a sentence it is! What assurance it brings to the heart, and how it inspires faith to action. “I am with you, saith the LORD.” Such is our blessed assurance. “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.” And as we look to Him and trust Him there is power.

The result was a mighty revival in the good work. The Lord stirred them up through His Word, the brief message He sent. Every true revival begins the same way. It has been well said, “I am with you, is the saving principle for faith in the weakest possible day, and let me add, what had they better in the brightest day?”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Haggai 1". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". 1913-1922.