Haggai reproveth the people for neglecting the building of the Lord's house: he inciteth them to the building: he promiseth God's assistance to them in the work.
Before Christ 520.
Haggai 1:1. Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel— Zerubbabel was of the family of David, the grandson of Jechoniah, and the son of Shealtiel, as he is said to be here, and in Matthew 1:12 or the son of Pedaiah, and the grandson of Shealtiel, as it seems we ought to infer from 1 Chronicles 3:18 or, most probably, the son of Pedaiah by nature, and of Salathiel by adoption. He is called the governor, not the king of Judah. See 1 Kings 20:24 which is the rather to be observed, as there are some who strangely apply to Zerubbabel those prophesies wherein it is foretold that Israel should return and serve David their king; prophesies which pertain only to Messiah, the king of the Jews. Josedech was high-priest in the reign of Zedekiah, and was carried away captive by Nebuchadnezzar. See 1 Chronicles 6:15. His son succeeded him in the same dignity, when Judah returned from captivity, being confirmed in his office by the great Sanhedrin. See Grotius and Calmet.
Haggai 1:2. This people say, The time is not come— The Jews said this, not because they denied that the seventy years were completed, after which the prophets had foretold that the temple should be rebuilt,—for it was extremely easy to compute those years; but, because they feared the king of Persia, and were greater time-servers, than believers in God. See Houbigant.
Haggai 1:4. Is it time for you, &c.— Is the time come for you to inhabit your ceiled houses, while that house lieth desolate? This is in answer to Haggai 1:2. "You complain of the times; yet they have not been so difficult but you have found means and opportunity to build fine houses for yourselves, though you are content to let the house of the Most High continue in ruins." See Houbigant and Calmet.
Haggai 1:6. Ye have sown much, and bring in little— "Consider both your ingratitude in neglecting to restore my house and worship; and what you have acquired by your dealings: while devoid of my blessing and protection, none of your undertakings thrive; nor do you enjoy the fruits of your labour: the reason of this is evident." See Haggai 1:9.
Haggai 1:9. I did blow upon it— I blasted it.
Haggai 1:13. Then spake Haggai— Then Haggai, whom the Lord had sent for the work of the Lord, spoke to the people, saying, &c. The work of the Lord, means the work of the house of the Lord mentioned in the last clause of the next verse; which should be rendered, And applied themselves to the work of the house of the Lord, &c.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The date of this prophesy is in the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, the first day of the month; not Darius the Mede, but probably Darius Hystaspes, who came to the throne about fifteen years after the proclamation of Cyrus. The word of the Lord which was sent to Haggai, he is commanded to deliver to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and to Joshua the son of Josedech the high-priest, these being the chief persons in ecclesiastical and civil matters, on whom it was especially incumbent to stir up the people to their duty.
1. The Jews are charged with great negligence and remissness in the work of God. This people, who have so lately enjoyed such distinguished favours from God, say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built; they had begun the foundations immediately on their return from Babylon, but the building had been interrupted through the misrepresentations of their enemies at the Persian court; and though for a season they had liberty to proceed, they seem to have been too indifferent about it, and were ready to suggest arguments to encourage themselves in their negligence; either they were too poor as yet to proceed in it, or were afraid of the Persians, or the late unseasonable years were interpreted as a providential intimation that it was not yet proper to carry on the work; and therefore they deferred it to a more convenient season. So often are we ready to put off what is present duty to some future time, and in excuse to pretend a providential interposition, when in truth we only follow our own inclinations.
2. For this lukewarmness and carelessness God's displeasure had already appeared against them. The wants of which they complained had hence their origin; nor would they be relieved till this matter was rectified. Their land was under a curse, and though they sowed much, they reaped little; they had neither meat, drink, nor clothes sufficient to support and keep them warm; or what they had, God permitted them to have no comfort in; and the money they gained was quickly lost, as if they had put it into a bag with holes. The drought had parched up their land, and disappointed their expectations of plenty; and what they gathered into their storehouses, God blew upon it, and it wasted insensibly; or blew it away as stubble, by some providential judgments: and the reason he informs them of, because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house, diligent and active in seeking their own interests, and promoting their own advantage, and unconcerned about the house of God and the glory of his name. Note; (1.) They who look for much from creature-comforts, must prepare for disappointment. (2.) In our common blessings we are as much dependent upon God's ceaseless providential care, as if we were fed daily by miracles. (3.) If God blows upon our possessions, we shall pine in the midst of plenty, and his wrath will embitter every comfort. (4.) They who seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, consult best for both worlds; all happiness in time, as well as eternity, arising only from his favour and blessing.
3. He expostulates with them hereupon. Is it time for you, O ye, who can find no time to serve God, and build his house, to dwell in your ceiled houses? Theirs were completely finished and furnished, while his lay waste. So often do professors seek their own things, and not those which are Jesus Christ's: but great is their guilt.
4. He endeavours to rouse them from their lethargy, and to set them to work. Consider your ways, what miseries they have already brought upon you; the baseness and ingratitude of such conduct, and what will be the end of these things. Consider your ways, that, convinced of their evil, you may amend them without delay, and begin instantly the neglected work of God's temple. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood from Lebanon, and build the house, and I will take pleasure in it, accept their labours and the sacrifices there offered; and I will be glorified, saith the Lord, in the work of your hands; the worship there performed should redound to his praise. Note; (1.) The first step to all godliness is serious consideration. (2.) They who consider their ways to any good purpose, must shew it by immediate reformation of what is wrong. (3.) Whenever we return to God and his neglected service, he will still be found gracious, he will take pleasure in us, and be glorified in mercy.
2nd, We have an account of the happy success with which the prophet's admonition was attended.
1. They obeyed instantly the voice of the Lord their God. Zerubbabel and Joshua led the way, and the people cheerfully followed their good examples, fearing before the Lord, under a sense of his displeasure visible in their past visitations, and justly apprehensive lest they should provoke heavier judgments. They came and did work in the house of the Lord of Hosts, their God, within three weeks after the warning that they had received, the intermediate time probably being spent in providing the materials. Note; (1.) The word in the mouths of God's ministers is the voice of God, and must be respected accordingly. (2.) Holy fear is a blessed principle of action. (3.) When we see how negligent we have been, the consideration should quicken us to double diligence, that we may redeem the time. (4.) Whatever good is in us, or done by us, we owe it intirely to God's free grace, from whom alone all holy desires and all just works do proceed: nevertheless, none will have cause to complain, that he was not willing to begin and carry on a work of grace in their souls.
2. God hereupon sends his prophet to them, with a new message of encouragement. I am with you, saith the Lord, to pardon your past neglect, to assist you in your present labour, to protect you from your enemies, and to crown your work with success. Note; If God says, I am with you in any undertaking, that is enough, we need not wish for more; his presence includes all blessedness and almighty aid.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Haggai 1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany