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Bible Commentaries
Haggai 2

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-9

Hag 2:1-9

THE SECOND MESSAGE . . . Haggai 2:1-9

THE WORD OF JEHOVAH . . . Haggai 2:1-2

Claiming again the inspiration of God for his message, Haggai, a month after rebuilding was resumed, addressed himself again to the civil and spiritual leaders and the people.

Zerr: This chapter begins (Haggai 2:1-2) about a month later than the close of the preceding one. In that time the work on the temple has gone forward to the point of getting the foundation laid. That made it possible to see something of the appearance of the completed building when that time came. The Lord then gave the prophet instructions (see Haggai 2:2) to call the attention of the builders and the people to the work as it then appeared.

Coffman: "In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of Jehovah by Haggai the prophet, saying."Speak now to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the High Priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying, (Haggai 2:1-2)

The last three of Haggai’s four messages are found in this second chapter (Haggai 2:1-9; Haggai 2:10-19; and Haggai 2:20-23). The Second of these messages is contained in Haggai 2:1-9. In the first and the last of these, one finds two prophecies of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.The significance of this dating lies in the fact of its having been a little less than a month since the work on rebuilding the Temple had commenced. "This seventh month was Teshri, the equivalent of our October/November."[1]

THE FORMER GLORY . . . Haggai 2:3

There were a few who had returned from captivity who longed for the “good old days.” The modest dimensions and decor of the second temple could not compare with the splendor of the first. (1 Kings 6:22; 1 Kings 6:28; 1 Kings 6:30; 1 Kings 6:32; 1 Kings 7:48-50)

“How do you see it?” asks the prophet. The temple they were building was nothing compared to their memory of the one erected by Solomon.

Traditionally, several things were absent from the second temple by which it could not compare to the first:

(1) The Ark of the Covenant was gone. Its fate still remains a mystery. The idea that it was taken directly into heaven has been held by some on the strength of Revelation 11:19. The apocalyptic nature of Revelation, however, makes a literal interpretation very unreliable.

(2) The Shekinah glory . . . the pillar of cloud and of fire was absent . . . proof that the full glory of God was not yet come.

(3) Following Malachi, the Spirit of prophecy was apparently silent and the inspired prophet was replaced by the professional scribe.

(4) The sacred fire, kindled by God upon the altar was extinguished, and God no longer smote the priests for replacing it with strange fire. (cf. Leviticus 10:1 -ff)

(5) The Urim and Thummim were also gone. (cp. Exodus 28:30) The literal meanings of these words are lights and perfections, respectively. The exact nature of them is problematical. They may have been some divine manifestation or they may have been an appendage on the breastplate of the priests. (cp. Deuteronomy 33:8 and 1 Samuel 28:6) It has been suggested that the Urim and Thummim were jewels set in the breast plate of the high priest. (cp. Exodus 28:29, Exodus 39:8 and Leviticus 8:8)

No doubt much else was lacking. The first temple had been erected by a wise ruler of a wealthy nation in collaboration with building experts. The second was built by a vassal state, with no king and no real wealth. This actual inferiority was exaggerated in the memory of those in whose minds sixty-six years had no doubt added even to the real glory of Solomon’s temple. The key to Haggai’s message to those who were depressed and disappointed in the inferiority of their handiwork, is the question “how do ye see it? They were overly concerned’ with material embellishments.

Zerr: There were people living who had seen the temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians (Haggai 2:3). They were asked to make lhe comparison, and it was suggested that they would conclude the present building to be inferior to the first one. This event of comparison is given more detailed notice in Ezra 3:12.

Coffman: Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes as nothing?" (Haggai 2:3)

"Who is left among you that saw this house ... ?" There would hardly have been any point in a question framed just like this, if indeed there were none who could remember the former temple of Solomon. As Barnes said, "This implies that there were those among them who had seen the first house in its glory, yet but few."[2] The speculation that Haggai himself might have been among them is valid enough, but unprovable, as noted in our introduction.

Speaking of the glory of that first Temple, it must indeed have been a magnificent splendor.

"Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he drew chains of gold across the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold. And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until all the house was finished: also the whole altar that belonged to the oracle he overlaid with gold” (1 Kings 6:21-22)."

Some have estimated the cost of Solomon’s Temple somewhere between three and five billion dollars!

"This house ..." Haggai did not view the efforts of his generation as the construction of a new Temple, but as the rebuilding of the old one. As Hailey noted, "The Lord never had but one house in Jerusalem." In an accommodative sense, that was "the Lord’s house," whether the one built by Solomon, rebuilt by Zerubbabel, or renovated by Herod the Great. It should always be borne in mind, however, that the only genuine Temple the Lord ever had is the Church of Jesus Christ our Lord.

"Is it not in your eyes as nothing ...?" The inferiority of the new edifice did not derive so much from the lateral dimensions of it, because Cyrus had ordered that the new Temple should even exceed the old one in size. "If the injunction of Cyrus had been heeded, the dimensions of the new temple would have exceeded those of the old",[3] but there was no way, really that Haggai and Zerubbabel, with the limited resources available, could have strictly adhered to any such guidelines. Even so, "the proportions were not greatly inferior to those of the first temple."[4] The chief physical shortcoming, it appears, would have been in the height of the building. Whereas Solomon’s temple stood 120 cubits in height, that of Zerubbabel was only 60 cubits, according to Josephus.[5] However, it was not merely the lesser height and volume of the new edifice that attested its inferiority, but the lack of all the extravagant adornment which had distinguished the first. "Six hundred talents of gold ($10,000,000.00) were used in overlaying the Holy of Holies alone."[6] Such monies were not available to Zerubbabel.

I AM WITH YOU . . . Haggai 2:4-5

The important thing in regard to the rebuilding of the temple, as God saw it, was that His people were back in their land, and He was with them. And His presence is according to the everlasting covenant. Here is the heart of the prophetic message. This is the reason the remnant had been returned. This is the reason the temple must be rebuilt. His promise to bless all the nations of the earth in the seed of Abraham was the reason they became a nation in the beginning. (cf. Exodus 2:24, Exodus 19:5-6) It is equally the reason for the restoration of their national identity. In their national pride and religious exclusiveness, they were about to forget again the reason for their existence. It was vital that, upon this restoration as in their beginnings as a people (Genesis 1:1-3) and as a nation (Exodus 19:5-6), that the people be once more made aware of their covenant purpose. Here is the real purpose of the preaching of Haggai, for in the reconstruction of the temple was the symbolic re-affirmation of the covenant.

Zerr: Haggai 2:4 begins with the word yet which indicates that God did not profess to regard the present building as actually as good as the other. However, He encourages them to be of good cheer and promises them to be with them in the world. According to Haggai 2:5, the same God who brought Israel out of Egypt and sustained them with His spirit, is the one who has led them through the trials just now going on and will continue to lead them it they will obey.

Coffman: "Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith Jehovah; and be strong, O Joshua son of Jehozodak, the High Priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith Jehovah, and work: for I am with you, saith Jehovah of hosts."(Haggai 2:4)

The only "glory" that mattered, and the only glory that had any permanent value was that of God Himself. When God was with his people, they were indeed glorified, and all of the alleged inferiority of the new temple would be nullified and compensated for by the presence of the Lord himself who was moving toward the accomplishment of his eternal purpose through the instrumentality of the "once chosen" people in bringing forth the Messiah into the world.

God’s love and tenderness for his people was unbounded. The necessity of punishing them and removing them from the land which they had forfeited by disobedience was an occasion for heartbreak, even on the part of God Himself. Therefore, when the remnant was restored to the land of Canaan, and after they had been working only about a month, the Lord provided the strong assurances of this promise that he was "with" them.

Any strict execution of the justice of God would apparently have required all of the Jewish Canaanites to be destroyed in the same manner as the original Canaanites. Surely, Jewry deserved no better treatment than that which God had meted out to Sodom and Gomorrah, for the prophet Ezekiel flatly declared (Ezekiel 16) that both the northern and the southern Israel were "worse" than Sodom and Gomorrah. However, there were strong impediments to such an execution. The continuity of the prophecies of the Messiah, reaching all the way back to Genesis 3:15 demanded the continuity of Israel. God had promised the Messiah "through" them. His prophets had foretold the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. Any execution of the deserved penalty upon the old Israel would have checkmated God’s purpose in the far more important matter of delivering the Messiah to mankind. Any true understanding of God’s unwavering and continued mercies to Israel must take such things into account. Also, such mercies to the old Israel were typical of similar mercies to Christ’s church, the New Israel of God.

Also, God’s being with the old Israel must be considered as a type and symbol of his being with his church throughout the ages. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).

"According to the word which I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, and my Spirit abode among you: fear ye not." (Haggai 2:5)

The ancient covenant that God made with Abraham, promising to bless "all the people of the earth" through his "seed" (singular, which is Christ), will yet be honored by the Father. True, there had been a gross misunderstanding on secular Israel’s part about what God’s blessing meant, most of them interpreting it to mean that God would help them subdue all earthly enemies and incorporate the defeated nations into Israel’s "godless state" or "kingdom," which was a concept foreign to God altogether. That kind of a kingdom was their idea, not God’s; and, as a consequence, they arrogantly forsook their true religion, rebelled against God, forsook his holy law, and became as reprobate as the heathen; whereupon God destroyed their beloved worldly kingdoms which the people had come to idolize. Their prophets warned them, but to no avail. Amos declared:

"Behold, the eyes of the Lord Jehovah are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; save that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith Jehovah” (Amos 9:8). Of course, that is exactly what happened!"

In this verse is the promise that God meant all he ever said. He will yet bless the true Israel (the spiritual seed of Abraham), making them a blessing to all the earth. The fulfillment of that promise would yet come, but not in the way fleshly Israel imagined. The very next verse would point to the true method of its accomplishment.



Haggai 2:6-9

Through the restored remnant the Christ would come. Never again would Baal be worshipped among His people. They would forget the covenant purpose as a nation. Their religion would become a hollow form, but with it all, the faithful few would remain true and the Messiah would come in fulfillment of the covenant promise. (cp. Matthew 1:1, Luke 1:33; Luke 1:55; Luke 1:72-73)

“Thus saith the Lord” in Haggai 2:6 is dependent upon the covenant mentioned in verse five. The phrase “in a little while” has been rendered variously, “it is as yet a little while,” and “one period more—a brief one it is.” The Septuagint has “yet once.” The sense is that of repetition.

Zerr: Following a practice we have before seen with the prophets, the Lord has Haggai to leap from a fortunate event in the history of fleshly Israel to one at spiritual Israel or the church. Haggai 2:6 and the following three verses (Haggai 2:7-9) deal with that subject and the imagery is drawn from the literal shaking of Mt. Sinal when the Mosaic system was given to the peopIe of Israel. After that shaking had subsided it left remaining the organIzed institution that was to serve the people through that dispensation. Now the Lord predicts that one more earth shaking event vill occur that will affect the heavens and the earth.

Coffman: "For thus saith Jehovah of hosts: Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;” (Haggai 2:6)

"I will shake the heavens ... earth ... sea ... and dry land ..." We hold these words to be unequivocally a reference to the final Judgment that shall close the age of probation for the human race. Some have interpreted the passage to mean that God would topple powers, governments, institutions, and social systems; but that is what he promised to do in Haggai 2:7 (the very next verse), where he declared, "And I will shake all nations!" Two very different events are in view. The first is the final advent of Christ in the final judgment. The second, "the shaking of all nations" is the kind of upheaval among governments and societies that some suppose is meant by the first series of expressions. This is a most important distinction. It should be observed that in the first event prophesied here, "the heavens" also are to be shaken. One wonders what "earthly powers" could be meant by that! This is mentioned first and is the principal feature of the whole passage, as indicated by the quotation and emphasis upon it by the inspired writer of Hebrews who wrote:

"Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more will I make to tremble not the earth only, but the heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain” (Hebrews 12:26-27)."

Thus, the inspired New Testament confirms our understanding of this passage in Haggai as a reference to eternal judgment and the cosmic disturbances that shall mark the onset of that event. F. F. Bruce also received this interpretation of it:

"When, in accordance with the divine promise, this cosmic convulsion takes place, when (in Dryden’s words)

The last and dreadful hour

This crumbling pageant shall devour - the whole material universe will be shaken to pieces, and the only things to survive will be those that are unshakable."[7]

"Yet once more ..." raises the question of what was the first occasion of God’s shaking the earth and the heavens, etc.? Keil construed this as a reference to Sinai and the earthquake that marked the giving of the Law to Moses. "It is a reference to the shaking of the world at the descent of Jehovah upon Sinai to establish the giving of the covenant to Israel."[8] This is quite obviously the same construction that the author of Hebrews placed upon the passage. Note also the deduction in Hebrews to the effect that the second "shaking" is to be infinitely more violent than the first, even to the extent of removing the material things that are shaken. Keil also agreed fully with this:

"The approaching shaking of the world will be much more violent; it will affect the heaven and the earth in all their parts, the sea and the solid ground, and also the nations. The visible creation of the whole world will be altered."[9]

"In a little while ..." These words are a problem for some. Does not this indicate that all of Haggai’s prophecy is to take place at some near date in the future from the time he wrote? No indeed. The reference is to the manner of God’s looking upon "time." An identical expression was used in Revelation 6:11 to indicate the total period of human probation. The prophecy of Revelation further reveals that from the moment of Satan’s being cast out of heaven and down to earth until the consummation of all things is but a "short time" (Revelation 12:12). Thus, Haggai’s "little while" is the same as John’s "little time," and "short time." In the cosmic view, it will indeed be but a short time until God concludes the affairs of men.

Before leaving Haggai 2:6, it is appropriate to notice that when God speaks of the redemption of men, it is always done in prospect of Final Judgment and God’s execution of his wrath upon rebellious humanity. Why is that? God’s salvation always means salvation from that final wrath, the survival of the redeemed through the event of that terminal catastrophe, and their endowment with eternal life and glory; hence the dramatic reference to the Judgment here.

Just as the power of the Lord had shaken Sinai (Hebrews 12:26) as God manifest His moral power to Israel, so again He will demonstrate His power in the shaking of “the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land and . . . all nations, and the precious things of all nations.” (Haggai 2:7) The Hebrew writer sees the fulfillment of this in the coming of the new covenant. (Hebrews 12:18-29) The coming of the church, the new temple (Hebrews 8:1 -ff) and ultimate fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant (Galatians 3:29) shook and put an end to the nations of the pre-Christian world.

Zerr: Desire of all nations (Haggai 2:7) was to he fulfilled when the Gentile as well as the Jew would be offered the same benefits. This house refers to the house of the Lord composed ot Christians (Hebrews 3:6).

Coffman: "and I will shake all nations; and the precious things of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house with glory, saith Jehovah of hosts." (Haggai 2:7)

"And I will shake all nations ..." This beginning of Haggai 2:7 is not necessarily to be understood as a part of the prophecy of the Last Day, although, of course, the nations of men will indeed be "shaken up" by the events of that terminal Assize, when "all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over Him ... and cry for the rocks and the mountains to hide them." As is characteristic of practically all of the prophecies of the Final Judgment, this one also mingles revelations with it that would appear to have their primary fulfillment in the kingdom of Christ, which is the Church. The latter part of Haggai 2:7 is apparently just such a revelation.

"The precious things of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house with glory ..." To limit this to the Final Judgment would apply the words to the Holy City coming down out of heaven into which the kings of the earth shall bring their treasure (Revelation 21:21). Regardless of that ultimate fulfillment, there were many lesser and more immediate fulfillments of this part of the promise. Not only did the kings of the earth aid the Jews in the building of their Second Temple, but in the days of Herod the Great, that monarch did indeed spend the vast resources of his whole kingdom in the most costly and extravagant decorations of it. And then, looking beyond that, in the days of the spread of Christianity all over the world, the kingly riches that were lavished upon worship of Christ in his holy church truly stagger the imagination. But the glory of God’s Temple (the Church) in this current dispensation does not consist of material wealth or elaborate meeting houses and costly decorations, the presence of Christ himself in the midst of his people ... THERE is the true glory of God’s temple. This, of course, is the royal badge of the Church’s glory: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of you" (Matthew 18:20). Therefore, we apply Haggai 2:7 to God’s true temple, the Church of Jesus Christ. The fact of Haggai’s apparent mingling of the two events is no problem at all. The final Judgment itself is part of this dispensation just like the Church, both of them standing in the prophecies of events of the "last days." The fusion of the gospel age and the Judgment is common in Biblical prophecy.

"The shaking of the nations ..." Before leaving Haggai 2:7, it must be pointed out that the "shaking of nations" is going on continually. There has hardly been a generation of men upon the earth that did not witness the rise and fall of human kingdoms; and according to Christ this is a situation that will not change (Matthew 24:6-9). The Red Horse of the Apocalypse did not make a foray into the earth and then go back to heaven! He still rides upon our unhappy planet. The seventh head of the great Scarlet Beast shall be succeeded by a period of the "ten horns," the multitude of kingdoms that shall eventually hate all religion.

The shaking began during the “silent years” between the Testaments. The Persian Empire crumbled before Alexander. Alexander’s kingdom, divided after his youthful death, in turn gave way to Rome, and the west began its current domination of the east which heretofore had set the culture of the world. “The desire of all nations” (KJV) in verse seven is unmistakably Messianic. There could hardly be a more vivid expression of the covenant promise, “in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Even the rabbis saw in it the coming of the Messiah. The true riches of God, the “silver” and “gold” of verse eight will make the glory of the house of God outshine the glory of Solomon’s temple. And so the prophet comforts the people in such a way as to turn their minds from their ambitions of national grandeur to the glorious hope of covenant fulfillment.

Zerr: These material substances (i.e. "silver" and "gold," - Haggai 2:8) used to make the literal temple all belonged to God. Likewise, the materials composing the spiritual temple all belong to him according to 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Coffman: "The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith Jehovah of hosts." (Haggai 2:8) This is apparently mentioned to indicate that:

"All nations with their wealth come (into Christ’s kingdom) and the Gentiles shall bring their treasures, their powers, whatever they most prize, to the service of God ... All that, is here called metaphorically, coming with treasures to the Temple."[10]

This passage is "unmistakably Messianic. There could hardly be a more vivid picture of the covenant promise."[11] What is clearly prophesied here is that the "true riches of God (typified here as the silver and the gold) will make the house of God (the church) outshine the glory of Solomon’s temple."[12]

The statement in Haggai 2:9, “the latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former,” is deserving of special attention. The argument of the book of Hebrews for the superiority of the new covenant over the old is a glorious re-statement of this truth. It is patently obvious that Haggai cannot be saying that when the second temple is complete it will be more splendid than the first. This simply could not be true in the nation’s post-exilic circumstances. Historically it was not true, even with Herod’s embellishments during the Roman era. Haggai is looking to something far more meaningful than stone and mortar.

Zerr: Glory of the latter house greater than the former (Haggai 2:9). This was predicted of the church which is the greatest organization that God ever placed on the earth. We need not be uncertain about the above application of this noted prophecy, for Paul makes that use of it in Hebrews 12:26-28.

Coffman: "The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, saith Jehovah of hosts; and in this place will I give peace, saith Jehovah of hosts." (Haggai 2:9)

We have already seen that the true meaning of all that Haggai said was that the glory of Christianity should far outshine the glory of Judaism. The new Temple, the Church, would far surpass the temples of Jerusalem. Now, with reference to whether or not Haggai fully understood all the Lord said through him, we may freely concede that he most probably did not, but as we have repeatedly observed, the subjective imaginations and guesses by scholars trying to figure out what they suppose Haggai thought he was saying are absolutely irrelevant. We hold that the words were not Haggai’s at all, but God’s; and as Peter indicated (1 Peter 1:10-12), students in the present dispensation have a far better opportunity to understand what God wrote through that prophet than he did.

Therefore, although Haggai probably understood God’s words which came through him as predictions of what would be fulfilled with regard to the physical temple they were rebuilding, discerning students of the holy Scriptures cannot fail to understand that much more was included in the heavenly meaning of this magnificent Messianic passage (Haggai 2:6-9). As Wiseman noted, "There was a first fulfillment soon after Haggai wrote, but not completely until Christ’s reign."[13]

Before leaving this wonderful Messianic prophecy, we must call attention to the rendition of the KJV in Haggai 2:7, which reads:

"I will shake all nations; and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts."

In every way, this translation is far more suitable than subsequent renditions. The translators of most of the versions and translations since the KJV have made "desire" plural, reading it "the desires" "the precious things," "the desirable things," etc.; and, while we must accept the grammatical logic of this, it could very well be that the translators have been too much influenced by the Septuagint (LXX) in this place. Charles L. Feinberg discussed this verse as follows:

"It is well to remember, however, that from the earliest days the majority of Christian interpreters followed the Jewish tradition in referring the passage to the coming of Israel’s Messiah. It seems clear that the longing all nations have in common must be their yearning for the Deliverer, whether or not they realize the nature of their desire or the identity of its true fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Moreover, in Hebrew an abstract noun is often used instead of the concrete; thus a reference to the Messiah is not automatically ruled out on the basis of language considerations. The use of a plural verb here does not militate against the Messianic interpretation, for there are instances in which the verb agrees with the second of two nouns."[14]

This writer does not claim any competence to decide such a question of Hebrew grammar; but, upon the unequivocal analysis of such a scholar as Feinberg (Dean, and Professor of Semitics, Talbot Theological Seminary, La Mirada, California), which, as far as we are able to determine is not contradicted by any authority whatever, we must in conscience receive the rendition which, to us, is clearly demanded by the entire context.

Haggai 2:7 plainly connects the filling of God’s house with glory to the prior fact of the "Desire of all nations" having been brought into it; and "the desirable things" of all nations such as their wealth, their gold and silver, could not in any sense be viewed as "the glory" of God’s house. The very next verse reminds us that God already owns all the gold and silver; and far from being an explanation of the nature of the promised glory, verse 8 is an explanation of what the glory is not!

Despite our preference for the KJV in this verse, the commentary above is written upon our version (ASV) and interpreted accordingly.

Gill properly discerned the true "glory" of the Lord’s house. It is that "peace" mentioned at the conclusion of Haggai 2:9.

"The peace which prevails in the true and more glorious temple of God is not "as the world gives" (John 14:27). It comes only from complete surrender to and complete trust in Him Who is the meaning of the old temple and the High Priest of the new."[15]

"In this place will I give peace, saith Jehovah of hosts ..." In no sense may this be applied to the rebuilt temple; only in Christ is there "peace that passeth understanding." As for Zerubbabel’s building,

"That which made it both sanctuary and temple was missing. Yahweh’s glory did not fill it. Yahweh was not present there in creating and redeeming power."[16]

"Peace ..." The RSV and other versions have rendered this word "prosperity" for no compelling reason; and again we are compelled to find fault with this type of tampering with the Word of God. The Hebrew word here is "Shalom."[17] And, while it is true enough that it "has a comprehensive meaning, signifying total mental, spiritual, and physical well-being,"[18] "peace" is the primary meaning of the word; and it is thus used at the present time by Jews all over the world. To make this read "prosperity" is ridiculous, for the present-day meaning of "prosperity" leaves out of sight all the higher significance of the passage.

"In this place ..." As Keil accurately pointed out, "This place is not the temple, but the city of Jerusalem,"[19] from which place the word of the Lord went forth from Mount Zion. Again, it is the glory of the New Covenant in Christ Jesus that provides the complete fulfillment of the passage. "Peace" for mankind never yet came out of a Jewish temple.

Lump Solomon’s temple, Zerubbabel’s temple, and Herod’s temple all together and their glory cannot surpass that of the real temple, the church. That the Jews identified the material temple with their ambitions for national glory was a grave error for them. Ultimately, it brought about their rejection of Jesus. But it did not alter the spiritual facts. (cp. Daniel 2:36-45; Daniel 4:19-27, Ezekiel 40-48, Zechariah 2:3-13; Zechariah 6:9-15; Zechariah 8:13; Zechariah 8:18-23; Zechariah 9:9-10; Zechariah 14:16-21, Psalms 145:6; Psalms 145:9-13; Psalms 145:21)

The true tabernacle, or temple is superior to the old because it is based on a superior revelation by a superior Revelator (Hebrews, chapters 1-3) and because it is ministered by a superior priesthood. (Hebrews 4:14 to Hebrews 10:18) It is more glorious than “the former” because it is related to God by a better covenant and accomplishes better services. The scene, conditions and results of its ministry are ideal whereas those of the old temple were symbolic, shadowy types of the real temple. The former temple was passing away, the latter temple is eternal. The sacrifices offered in the former were dead animals. Those in the new are living men. (Romans 12:1-2)

The promise of peace is also related to the new temple rather than the old. The peace which God gives to those who are the new temple (Haggai 2:9), the spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5), is beyond the comprehension of those who think of material glory. (Philippians 4:7) The world seeks peace in terms of silent guns and rusted swords. The world seeks peace in terms of easy going tolerance in all human relationships. The world seeks peace through positive thinking, tranquilizers and electro-therapy. But the peace which prevails in the true and more glorious temple of God is not “as the world gives.” (John 14:27) Such peace comes only from complete surrender to and complete trust in Him Who is the meaning of the old temple and the High Priest of the new.

It is related to the reality of the Holy Spirit, not as a doctrine but as a present Person. (John 14:26-27) Haggai knew about this. In Haggai 2:5, he says “My Spirit abideth among you, fear not.”


Exposition of Haggai

1. Write an outline of Haggai.

2. Haggai’s first message is concerned with?

3. What were the results of the first message?

4. Discuss the ancestry of Zerubbabel in light of Haggai 1:1, 1 Chronicles 3:17-19, and Luke 3:27,

5. The message Haggai was _____________ message.

6. Haggai’s first message attacks _____________.

7. How does the message apply to us who would build the church?

8. How does Haggai account for the drought and austere conditions which had beset the people?

9. Discuss “Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel.”

10. What is the gist of Haggai’s second message? To whom is it addressed?

11. What was missing from the second temple?

12. What is meant by “the latter glory of the house?”

13. Discuss Haggai 2:7 in light of Hebrews 8:1 -ff and Galatians 3:29.

14. What is meant by “desire of all nations?”

15. What is the gist of Haggai’s third message?

16. What false motives might have been involved in rebuilding the temple?

17. What malady confronting Haggai was also addressed by Jesus?

18. Show evidence that Haggai considered his message to be God’s rather than his own.

19. Discuss the shaking of the heavens and earth (Haggai 2:21 cp. Haggai 2:6)

20. Why could not this shaking have referred to the chaotic conditions of Darius’ early reign?

21. Where in the Bible do we find the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy?

22. Discuss Zerubbabel as a type of Christ. Show parallels between them.

Verses 10-19

Hag 2:10-19

THE THIRD MESSAGE . . . Haggai 2:10-19


Haggai 2:10

The third message came from Jehovah to the prophet Haggai exactly three months after the favorable response of the people to the first message. As the first message cautions against false contentment and the second cautions against false discontentment, the third exhorts them not to build from false motives.

Zerr: Haggai 2:10. About two months later than the preceding verse the Lord gave another message to the prophet. Inspiration is not a condition that is settled upon a man as if it were a part or his natural faculty. When God wished to have any revelation made known He would call the spokesman into the service and inform him just what he was to say. That is why we are told that "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21)

Coffman: "In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of Jehovah by Haggai the prophet saying." (Haggai 2:10)


Regarding this date, Dean wrote, "The ninth month is Chisleu, answering to parts of November and December."[20] The message about to be introduced concerning the contrasting characteristics between holiness and defilement.

THUS SAITH THE LORD . . . Haggai 2:11

As in the previous messages, so here, Haggai is careful to let his hearers know the message is not his but the Lord’s.

Zerr: Haggai 2:11. The priests were the men who had supervision of the altar services and hence were acquainted with the requirements ot the law, The prophet was given the present message to them for the purpose of explaining wby the Lord was making his severe complaints against the nation.

Coffman: "Ask now the priests concerning the law..." (Haggai 2:11) "The law" mentioned here is that contained in the Pentateuch and which long had existed in Israel as the supreme religious authority. The allegation that the prophet of God was here requesting the priests to make a new law is preposterous. Throughout the minor prophets, we have repeatedly found references to hundreds of specific provisions and requirements of God’s law as written in the Pentateuch; and there is no reasonable way to doubt that Haggai here was referring to that prior existing code of God’s laws. It is no embarrassment at all to us that many of the current liberal interpreters do indeed deny this. For example:

"The oral teaching of the priests was eventually incorporated in the Torah (the Pentateuch). Nothing can be proved from Haggai’s words as to the existence in his day of written code of laws. No exact parallel to the priests’ teaching here is to be found in the Torah."[21]


This admonition (Haggai 2:12-14) is followed by two questions. The questions are, in essence, can the holy make the unholy holy and can the unholy make the holy unholy? The priests’ answers are accurate. To the first they answer no. To the second yes.

A basic principle is revealed here. The influence of holiness is not as far reaching as unholiness. A rotten apple will corrupt a barrel of good apples, but a good apple will not make a barrel of bad ones good.

So is this people.” The construction of a holy temple will not automatically sanctify the land or its inhabitants any more than the flesh of a sacrifice will make holy a garment in which it is carried.

When the first temple stood, the people could not believe God would allow evil to come upon them. They made a fetish of the building. It must not happen again by assuming the work of re-building can sanctify an unclean people.

Here is a warning to today’s Christian who assumes he is “right with God” because he associates with an active church, regardless of his personal commitment to God or trust in Jesus.

Zerr: Holy flesh (Haggai 2:12) means that kind that had been selected and prepared tor tbe altar according to the demands of the law. But whIle holding that flesh in bis skirt before reaching the altar he comes in contact with these other articles that had n ot been consecrated. The priests admitted that it would render that flesh unholy. The ceremonial law regarded a dead body as unclean and everything that touched it was so (Haggai 2:13). Even the people in general knew or had known that such was the stipulation in their instructions that came from the Lord through Moses. Having reminded them or the provisions concerning cleanness as they pertained to individual items of the service, Haggai makes comparison to the state of the nation (Haggai 2:14). The services that were being attempted might have been legal in themselves, but tbe nation had come tn contact with that which was unclean which rendered the whole procedure unholy. (See note offered at Isaiah 1:10.)

Coffman: If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean. (Haggai 2:12-14)

We reject out of hand the notion that we have in this so-called "pericope" a picture of the making of the Old Testament. Haggai did not say to the priests, make us a law about the situation mentioned; but "tell the people what the law is!" The exact passage of the Old Testament that carries the full and exact teaching of that enunciated by the priests in this interview is Numbers 19:11; Numbers 19:22, as follows:

"He that toucheth the dead body of any man shall be unclean seven days ... and whosoever the unclean person toucheth shall be unclean."

Apparently, some of the commentators are simply unaware of what God’s law surely contains. Despite the fact of the uncleanness in Numbers being a reference to uncleanness caused by a dead body; the principle would of necessity apply to all uncleanness. In fact, Numbers 19:22 makes precisely that application of it.

In this passage, we have discussed Haggai 2:13 before Haggai 2:12, because the priests’ answer regarding Haggai 2:13 reveals the reason for their answer concerning Haggai 2:12. The prophet, in fact, propounded two queries: (1) regarding a situation upon which the word of the Lord had provided no directive, and (2) regarding a situation that was most explicitly covered in the sacred law. In the second case, regarding the transferability, or contagiousness of defilement, their answer fully conformed to Numbers 19:11; Numbers 19:22, but in the first situation, regarding the same quality as applied to holiness, their answer conformed exactly to all situations where the Lord had not spoken; and they declined to make a law where God had not provided one. Only God had the right to declare anything "holy" or "defiled" regarding ceremonial uncleanness. Most of the Old Testament revelation regarding such things was very specific. That the priests consulted by Haggai in this passage had anything to do with what was incorporated into the Pentateuch is impossible to believe. What they commanded in case (2) was already covered. What they refused to allow as "holy" in case (1) was not specifically covered, except upon the premise that only those things God declares to be "holy" are actually so.

The lesson Haggai sought to bring out by this line of questioning was understood by Gill, as follows:

"A basic principle is revealed here. The influence of holiness is not as far-reaching as the influence of unholiness. A rotten apple will corrupt a barrel of good apples; but a good apple will not transform a barrel of rotten apples."[22]

Haggai’s application of this principle to the returned Israelites was this: (1) they had erected an altar to God on the old location and had begun to build the temple. This was allowed to be "holiness." Did that automatically entitle the whole people and the entire land to be counted "holy"? Despite that, it appears that many were expecting God to bless them far more than had been evident in the scanty harvests and hard times through which they were passing. The reason: the people had not really become "holy" through the token beginning they had made. (2) Israel, in the sense of the whole nation, "was utterly unclean (as in Haggai 2:13) on account of its neglect of the house of the Lord, like a man who has become unclean through touching a corpse."[23] This uncleanness would not be easily removed; and therefore the people must not complain of hard times and inconveniences; when they do better, God will more abundantly bless them! As Keil further explained, the teaching of this passage is preparatory to the prophet’s explanation of the crop-failures and the withholding of divine blessing. "Those things were the punishment of his people for their unfaithfulness (Haggai 2:15-19)."[24]

Thus, Haggai applied the analogy we have already discussed under the previous verses. Yes, the altar they had erected upon the original site, in conformity to God’s law, was "holy", but the sinful nation (continuing in their neglect of sacred duty) were unholy still, and, therefore, the very sacrifices they offered were themselves unholy through contamination by contact with the sinful nation. The sinful nation would have to make some changes before blessings could be bestowed.

CONSIDER . . . BACKWARD . . . Haggai 2:15-17

Haggai challenges his people to consider what has happened since they returned from captivity, prior to the beginning of the reconstruction. Conditions have not changed since they began to build. Prosperity did not immediately result from their work on the temple. The reason was the far-reaching result of past neglect. It could not be erased by three months of obedience. In Haggai 2:17 Haggai indicates that, although the people have resumed building, they have not really returned to the Lord. If they have, it is only recently. Here, just following their return from Babylon, is the beginning of the strange malady confronted by Jesus. “This people honoreth me with their lips: but their heart is far from me.” (Matthew 15:8) Isaiah had confronted this same spiritual failure in the people prior to the captivity. (Isaiah 29:13) A building program such as that in which Haggai’s readers were engaged, or a full program of activity in the building, such as that in which Jesus’ hearers participated, can neither one substitute for genuine commitment to God and concern for His covenant purpose.

Zerr: Haggai 2:15 asks them to take a view of their history going back to the time before any work had ever been done on the temple. The points he wishes to have them recall are those pertaining to their temporal disappointments (Haggai 2:16). This subject was treated previous to this chapter as may be noticed in the comments on some earlier verse. They are reminded of the stubbornness that tbe nation manifested in spite of these chastisements from the Lord (Haggai 2:17), which was the reason they had been doomed to spend a period in captivity under a foreign power.

Coffman: “And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the LORD:” (Haggai 2:15)

"Consider from this day and backward ..." This was a call for the people to look back over the past fourteen years of their shameful neglect of the principal purpose for which they had been allowed by the Father to return to their homeland, and to observe the stark lack of God’s blessing. He then proceeded to specify exactly what had been taking place. Why had not God blessed them? The whole nation was defiled through their long neglect of sacred duty and the two generations of contact with Babylonian paganism.

"Through all that time, when one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten; when one came to the winevat to draw out fifty vessels, there were but twenty." (Haggai 2:16)

"Through all that time ..." Through all the fourteen years after they had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple, and during which time they had utterly neglected it. Crops failed, expectations were not met; God did not bless them. So-called "modern man" is inclined to reject any view that connects his earthly success with concern for holy religion, but he is profoundly wrong in this. A broad view of the human race on earth clearly reveals that the people who have honored God enjoy degrees of earthly prosperity unmatched and even unapproached by anything visible in those lands where paganism still prevails. As long as a substantial proportion of a nation are God-fearing, honest, Christ-worshipping people, the land prospers, much of the prosperity spilling over to bless blatant and unrepentant sinners; but when the character of a whole nation is changed, the blessings of God are invariably withheld. Individually, therefore, there must be countless exceptions to the principle expounded by Haggai; but, as applied to nations, there are no historical exceptions to it. Godless Russia, possessing three fifths of the resources of the whole world today and unable to feed its population is a classical and current example.

"I smote you with blasting and mildew and with hail in all the work of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith Jehovah." (Haggai 2:17)

How does one view this? Could it be true that all they needed was some good fungicides and hail insurance? Well, how about the Med-fly in California this very day? We have plenty of fungicides and insecticides; and the point is that, no matter what men have, or fancy they have, they must also have the blessing of Almighty God in order to make it. Israel did not have it, and they were not making it!

CONSIDER . . . BACKWARD . . . Haggai 2:18-19

Again Haggai calls upon the people to remember. A new era is about to begin, as indicated in verse fifteen by the transitional phrase “and now.” This seems to be the reason for Haggai’s repeated emphasis on dates. The term in Hebrew does not mean “backward” exactly, as our versions render it (Haggai 2:15; Haggai 2:18). It is used rather to call attention from the past to the future. Past calamities are contrasted with the beginning of the new period of Jewish history. The plea seems to be for patience. Since the laying of the first stones there has not been enough time for Jehovah to relieve the wants of the people short of a miracle. The fig and pomegranate and olive harvests are yet on the trees. Their present obedience will yet be rewarded.

Zerr: Haggai 2:18. The prophet brings the re- view down to the present date. He reminds them that not only did the corruption of the past years cause them to be sent into captivity (Haggai 2:19), but since that event their neglect of duty had brought about these shortages in their crops down to that very date. Notwithstanding all this, if they will begin NOW to serve the Lord faithfully, they will be blessed.

Coffman: "Consider, I pray you, from this day and backward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, since the day that the foundation of Jehovah’s temple was laid, consider it." (Haggai 2:18)

Although the disastrous conditions had continued right up until the very day the foundation of the temple was laid, and despite there hardly being enough seed in the granaries to sow the fields, Haggai will now pronounce an astounding blessing upon the people.

"Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, the vine, and the fig-tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive-tree have not brought forth; from this day will I bless you." (Haggai 2:19)

Some uncertainty exists regarding the meaning of this reference to seed in the barn, etc.; but it seems to be that Haggai is saying, "even if you do not have much to plant, and even if the trees and vineyards have been persistently unproductive, FROM THIS DAY, God will richly and overwhelmingly bless you!" Though there was no sign of leaf or fruit upon the trees, and hardly enough seed in the barn, nothing by which men could judge of the future abundance, "Yet the prophet predicts an abundant crop, dating from the people’s obedience."[25]


Exposition of Haggai

1. Write an outline of Haggai.

2. Haggai’s first message is concerned with?

3. What were the results of the first message?

4. Discuss the ancestry of Zerubbabel in light of Haggai 1:1, 1 Chronicles 3:17-19, and Luke 3:27,

5. The message Haggai was _____________ message.

6. Haggai’s first message attacks _____________.

7. How does the message apply to us who would build the church?

8. How does Haggai account for the drought and austere conditions which had beset the people?

9. Discuss “Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel.”

10. What is the gist of Haggai’s second message? To whom is it addressed?

11. What was missing from the second temple?

12. What is meant by “the latter glory of the house?”

13. Discuss Haggai 2:7 in light of Hebrews 8:1 -ff and Galatians 3:29.

14. What is meant by “desire of all nations?”

15. What is the gist of Haggai’s third message?

16. What false motives might have been involved in rebuilding the temple?

17. What malady confronting Haggai was also addressed by Jesus?

18. Show evidence that Haggai considered his message to be God’s rather than his own.

19. Discuss the shaking of the heavens and earth (Haggai 2:21 cp. Haggai 2:6)

20. Why could not this shaking have referred to the chaotic conditions of Darius’ early reign?

21. Where in the Bible do we find the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy?

22. Discuss Zerubbabel as a type of Christ. Show parallels between them.

Verses 20-23

Hag 2:20-23

THE FOURTH MESSAGE . . . Haggai 2:20-23

Twice on the twenty-fourth day of the month the word of Jehovah came to Haggai. How it came we do not know. That the prophet considers his message as the Lord’s rather than his own is unmistakable. The second time the word of Jehovah came it resulted in Haggai’s fourth message.

Again the prophet addresses Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah. This fourth message is concerned with the time of fulfillment of the promises recorded in Haggai 2:6-9. (See comment above on Haggai’s second message.)

The shaking’ of the heavens and earth here (Haggai 2:21) and in Haggai 2:6 cannot mean the chaos which threatened the Persian empire during and just prior to the accession of Darius in 521 B.C. Haggai’s message was delivered in 520 B.C. when this threat had been largely abated by the decisive action of Darius.

God’s promise to Zerubbabel has to do with the reversal of human values rather than political agitation. It occurred, according to the understanding of the Hebrew writer, with the establishment of the church. (cp. Hebrews 12:25-29) Haggai 2:22 finds a parallel in Ezekiel 38:19-21. We shall find Zechariah confirming this idea in Zechariah 4:13.

As Richard Wolfe says, “Self destructive and mutually destructive wars shall rage on the earth and the power of the heathen shall be overthrown . . . by God.” The Prince of Peace shall rule at last. (cf. Psalms 20:7)

The ultimate fulfillment of this oft repeated predictive prophecy is to be seen in the final great struggle. (Revelation 20:7-10) ushering in the new heaven and new earth.

There is no reason to assume that Haggai mistakenly identifies Zerubbabel as the Messiah. His crowning, albeit secretly according to tradition lest it bring down the wrath of Persia upon Judah, could easily be seen as prophetic of Messiah’s coming. In his time the nations did not flock to the temple for instruction, the world’s kingdoms were not overthrown, the age of Messiah did not begin, and Zerubbabel himself did not live to participate in it.

Nevertheless, with the restoration of the remnant and the rebuilding of the symbolic temple, Zerubbabel can easily be seen as a type of Christ, just as David himself is frequently referred to in the same light. (e.g. Psalms 16:8-11; Psalms 110:1) This typology of Christ in Zerubbabel is seen in that he led the people out of the Babylonian bondage as Christ would lead His people from the bondage of sin. Zerubbabel built a temple to God, as Jesus is building the church. (cp. Ephesians 2:19-22)

May we, as Haggai’s readers, be encouraged in our faithfulness to God to the building of the real temple by our hope of the coming great “Day of Jehovah.”

Zerr: Haggai 2:20, On the same date as the foregoing message the Lord gave the prophet one to deliver unto another important person in the congregation. Zerubbabel was governor in the sense of being captain or leader in the work of the temple (Ezra 1:1-4 Ezra 3:8; Nehemiah 12:1). This message (Haggai 2:21) was a repetition of the prediction shown in verses 6-9 concerning the "shaking" that God was going to do. The comments on that passage shows the prediction to have reference to the church or kingdom of Christ, The present verse adds the specific prediction that God would overthrow the throne of the kingdom (Haggai 2:22). This is the same prediction that is meant in Daniel 2:44 concerning the perpetuity of the kingdom of Christ. In that day, .. make thee as a signet (Haggai 2:23). The last word is defined in the lexicon as, "a signature-ring." It has been rendered also by "seal" elsewhere in the A.V. The thought is that when Zerubbabel performs his full duty of completing the work of the temple, he will be accepted by the Lord and his work will have the divine approval. And as a prediction in the nature of a type, when the Lord does the "shaking" predicted. those who carry out the work of the new kingdom will have the approval of "the God of heaven" who had set up the kingdom according to Daniel 2:44.

Coffman: "And the word of Jehovah came the second time unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying, Speak to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth." (Haggai 2:20-21)


"The word ... came the second time ..." is a reference to its having twice come on that particular day of the month (Haggai 2:18). This is the same ninth month, Chisleu, corresponding to November/December.

"Speak to Zerubbabel ..." As the "stand in" head of the theocracy, Zerubbabel was a representative of the house of David; and to him the prophet now revealed spiritual blessings, of which the physical and economic blessings already foretold were tokens.

"I will shake the heavens and the earth ..." This is repeated from Haggai 2:6 (see notes on that passage), and will be elaborated and expanded in this final outburst of Messianic prophecy. "Once again, God will intervene in human affairs (shake the heavens and the earth)."[26] God surely had intervened in human affairs by the summary end which he had brought to the Babylonian captivity of the Jews; and the prophet here made such an intervention by God upon behalf of his people a prophecy of a far greater shaking of the "heavens and the earth" to occur in the dispensation of the "last times." Included in the prophecy are events associated with the age of the gospel and with the Second Advent of Jesus Christ.

"And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of nations; and I will overthrow the chariots; and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother." (Haggai 2:22)

"I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms ..." This is a summary of human history throughout its entirety. God overthrew kingdoms in the times of Haggai, and soon thereafter, and has continued to overthrow kingdoms ever since. In fact, God, right now, is in the business of overthrowing kingdoms. All human kingdoms are founded upon false values; and sin, injustice, oppression, and exploitation at last mar the image of the best of them. There has never been founded a "permanent" earthly kingdom. The vain and ruthless perpetrators of the French Revolution imagined that they were building for all time, even changing the names of the calendar months, and dating history from their godless revolution. Hitler boasted that his "Third Reich" would last a thousand years, but it perished in blood and fire while Hitler himself was a young man, himself also carried away by its collapse. But is it any different with any other human state? No! "I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms" is the divine sentence from heaven against all of them.

It should be noted here that military terminology dominates this passage: "strength of nations," "chariots," "horses," and "sword." Jesus spoke of "wars and rumors of wars," declaring that "the end is not yet," indicating that these shall continue throughout all time to the end. How will God destroy the nations of men? "Every one by the sword of his brother ..." That is the "modus operandi" of the divine will.

In the light of this obvious meaning of the passage, we cannot join with those who apply these words exclusively to the overthrow of Babylon, or any of the other numerous upheavals of either ancient or modern history. Haggai held up for all men to see it who will, the character of all earthly states, as well as the means of their ultimate overthrow, "Every one by the sword of his brother."

However, true as these observations are believed to be, there is a far greater fulfillment of this passage yet future, as humanity approaches the end of their probation, as wickedness waxes worse and worse, as human states tend more and more to deify humanity and to reject the knowledge of God altogether, in the end times, all the nations of men will be overthrown in one cataclysmic occurrence. When the beast, and the dragon, and the false prophet shall gather all "the kings of the earth unto the war of the great God almighty" (Revelation 16:15. At that time "the cities of the nations" shall fall Revelation 16:19), and the primeval sentence upon Adam and Eve shall finally be executed in the person of their total posterity.

We do not need to suppose for a moment that Haggai grasped the full import of God’s Word which came through him. Our own enlightenment upon what is meant can be immeasurably aided by the writings of the New Testament apostles and prophets of the New Covenant, notably among whom is the apostle John.

"In that day, saith Jehovah of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith Jehovah, and will make thee as a signet; for I have chosen thee, saith Jehovah of hosts." (Haggai 2:23)

We must apologize for those writers who suppose that Haggai thought Zerubbabel was the Messiah, and that such is what he wrote in this passage. That Haggai and all of Israel might indeed have had such a notion is true enough; but this passage does not say that.

"In that day ..." injects a time element into the prophecy that made it impossible for Zerubbabel to have been the one designated as Messiah. "In that day" in the prophecies almost invariably means "in the days of the New Covenant," "in the last days," "in the times of the kingdom of Christ," or "at a time far removed from the present."

Zerubbabel stands in this passage as a type of the Messiah; and as "the only son of David" known to the world of that day, Haggai’s use of his name is a prophecy that, in time, the "Son of David," who is Christ the Lord would fulfil the prophecy. A very similar thing was done by Malachi who stated that Elijah would come "before the great and notable day of the Lord" (Malachi 4:5), which prophecy had no reference whatever to literal Elijah, dead and buried for centuries, but on the other hand was a prophecy of John the Baptist who would come "in the spirit and power" of Elijah. Similarly, Jesus, the true Messiah, was the true "Son of David," a title held by Zerubbabel only by accommodation. A note in the Douay Version states: "This promise relates to Christ who was of the race of Zerubbabel."<26a> "The meaning is that the Messianic descent was to come through Zerubbabel, of the line of David, just as it did through David himself."[27] And, of course, both the Matthew and Lucan genealogies show that this was exactly fulfilled. Zerubbabel stands in both of them. "David’s secure throne (that of Christ) is here contrasted with the tottering dynasties of the world."[28]

"Jesus Christ has raised up the kingdom of his father David, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Even though it may appear oppressed and humiliated for the time by the power of the kingdoms of the heathen, it will never be crushed and destroyed, but will break in pieces all these kingdoms and destroy them, and will endure forever (Daniel 2:44; Hebrews 12:28; 1 Corinthians 15:24)."[29]

"I will make thee as a signet ..." The signet ring conferred upon its wearer the full authority and power of the giver; and this is a pledge of the absolute authority and power of Jesus Christ. As Deane put it, "The true Zerubbabel, Christ, the son and antitype of Zerubbabel, is the signet in the hand of the Father."[30] "Haggai, like Zechariah, saw in Zerubbabel the Messianic King,"[31] This was in the fullness of time fully vindicated as an authentic vision. It is pointless to speculate upon Haggai’s complete understanding of what Jehovah here said, or not. Whether he did, or didn’t, he faithfully reported God’s Word.

Zerubbabel is seen as a type of Christ in that, "He led the people out of Babylonian bondage, as Christ would lead his people out of the bondage of sin. Also, he built a temple, as Christ built the far greater Temple of his Church."[32]

All of the commentators mention what they call Haggai’s disappointment at Zerubbabel’s turning out not to be the Msesiah, but even if such a supposition was true, it could not have been due to anything that Haggai wrote. "That day" mentioned in this final passage, as Galley pointed out "is the Day of the Lord when the heavens and the earth will be shaken,"[33] in fact removing the fulfillment of the prophecy to times long subsequent to Haggai. The spiritual legacy which Haggai has left us is, "the assurance that God will be with his people when they act in faith and obedience to the demand that he be given the first place."[34]


Exposition of Haggai

1. Write an outline of Haggai.

2. Haggai’s first message is concerned with?

3. What were the results of the first message?

4. Discuss the ancestry of Zerubbabel in light of Haggai 1:1, 1 Chronicles 3:17-19, and Luke 3:27,

5. The message Haggai was _____________ message.

6. Haggai’s first message attacks _____________.

7. How does the message apply to us who would build the church?

8. How does Haggai account for the drought and austere conditions which had beset the people?

9. Discuss “Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel.”

10. What is the gist of Haggai’s second message? To whom is it addressed?

11. What was missing from the second temple?

12. What is meant by “the latter glory of the house?”

13. Discuss Haggai 2:7 in light of Hebrews 8:1 -ff and Galatians 3:29.

14. What is meant by “desire of all nations?”

15. What is the gist of Haggai’s third message?

16. What false motives might have been involved in rebuilding the temple?

17. What malady confronting Haggai was also addressed by Jesus?

18. Show evidence that Haggai considered his message to be God’s rather than his own.

19. Discuss the shaking of the heavens and earth (Haggai 2:21 cp. Haggai 2:6)

20. Why could not this shaking have referred to the chaotic conditions of Darius’ early reign?

21. Where in the Bible do we find the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy?

22. Discuss Zerubbabel as a type of Christ. Show parallels between them.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Haggai 2". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/haggai-2.html.
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