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by Matthew Poole
Haggai is the first prophet that appears in the name of the Lord of hosts, to awaken, reprove, direct, exhort, and encourage both the governor, high priest, and people, returned out of captivity, to the restoring and settling the worship of God, to the rebuilding the temple, whose foundations, together with the altar of burnt-offering, had been laid seventeen or eighteen years ago; but the finishing of the temple prohibited by Cambyses all the time of his being viceroy to his father Cyrus, and during his own reign; and neglected near two years in Darius Hystaspes's time, through the covetousness of many, the coldness of some, and the cowardice of others among the Jews, who were all bent on their own private concerns, and pleaded it was not time to set about the building of God's temple, and who in all probability would have deferred it much longer had they been let alone: now therefore the Lord doth, in zeal for his own glory, and in mercy to his people, send his servant Haggai to awaken them to their duty, which was this, the building the temple, and restoring the pure worship of God. He reproves them for neglecting this; tells them this sin was the cause of the penury and scarcity which afflicted them these fifteen or sixteen years past; assures them that, so soon as ever they begin the work, their ground, their cattle, their vines and olives, should wonderfully increase their store; promiseth God's presence with them, and with it a supply of gold and silver, which are his, and he will, as he did by the bounty of Darius and the contributions of others, bring in to them; and though the external glory of this temple were less than that of the first temple, yet this second temple should exceed the first in glory for so much as their expected, longed-for, and the blessed Messiah should appear in it. All which, as they were weighty arguments in themselves considered, so, through the co-operation of the Spirit of God, they prevailed with his hearers, who set about the work; and when opposed by their enemies, who sent to Darius to solicit him to renew the prohibition, he on the contrary confirms and enlargeth their charter granted by the grand Cyrus, and annexeth severe penalties on all that dare hinder this work; all which particularly, and at large, are set down in the sixth and seventh chapters of Ezra. And so in four years' time the temple is finished, the feast of dedication is celebrated, and the final issue answers to the name of the prophet who, sent of God, set it forwards, Haggai, who hath his name from the word that signifieth a feast, as if we should call him Festivus. He closeth all with a close prediction of many and long wars and seditions to come among the Gentiles, to the overthrow of the enemies of the Jews.
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28