In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying,
The people, discouraged at the inferiority of this temple to Solomon's, are encouraged, nevertheless, to persevere, because God is with them, and this house, by its connection with Messiah's kingdom, shall have a glory far above that of gold and silver.
In the seventh month - of the Hebrew year; in the second year of Darius' reign (Haggai 1:1); not quite a month after they had begun the work (Haggai 1:15). This prophecy was very little before that of Zechariah.
Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying,
No JFB commentary on this verse.
Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?
Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? Many elders ("of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men"), present at the laying of the foundation of the second temple, who had seen the first temple (Ezra 3:12-13) in all its glory, "wept with a loud voice" at the contrast presented by the rough and unpromising appearance of the second temple in its beginnings. From the destruction of the first temple to the second year of Darius Hystaspes, the date of Haggai's prophecy, was a space of 70 years (Zechariah 1:12); and to the first year of Cyrus, or the end of the captivity, fifty-two years: so that the elders might easily remember the first temple. The Jews note five points of inferiority: The absence from the second temple of
(1) the sacred fire; (2) the Shekinah, or cloud of glory representing the presence of God in the sanctuary;
(3) the ark and cherubim;
(4) the Urim and Thummim;
(5) the spirit of prophecy.
The connection of it with Messiah more than counterbalanced all these, because He is the antitype to all five (Haggai 2:9).
And how do ye see it now? God's estimate of things is very different from man's, who chiefly, or only, "looks on the outward appearance" (Zechariah 8:6.: cf. 1 Samuel 16:7). However low their estimate of the present temple ("it"), from its outward inferiority, God holds it superior, though then it was but "the day of small things" (Zechariah 4:10; 1 Corinthians 1:27-28.)
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts:
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua ... the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land ... and work: for I am with you. The greatest strength is to have Yahweh with us as our strength. Not in man's "might," but in that of God's Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).
According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.
According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt - literally, (I am with you), 'the word (or thing) which I covenanted' - i:e., I am with you as I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt (Exodus 19:5-6; Exodus 24:10-11). The covenant-promise of God to the elect people at Sinai is an additional motive for their persevering. The Hebrew х kaarat (H3772)] for to "covenant" is, literally, to cut, alluding to the sacrificial victims cut in ratification of a covenant. So - or, and, connecting "I am with you" (Haggai 2:4) and "my Spirit remaineth among you;" "according to the word that I covenanted with you" being in a parenthesis.
My Spirit remaineth among you - to strengthen you for the work (Haggai 1:14; Zechariah 14:6). The inspiration of Haggai and Zechariah at this time was a specimen of the presence of God's Spirit remaining still with His people, as He had been with Moses and Israel of old (Ezra 5:1; Isaiah 63:11).
For thus saith the LORD 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;
Yet once, it is a little while - or, '(it is) yet a little while.' The Hebrew х 'achat (H259)] for "once" expresses the indefinite article a (Maurer). Or, 'it is yet only a little while'-literally, one little - i:e., a single brief space-until a series of movements is to begin-namely, the shakings of nations, soon to begin, which are to end in the advent of Messiah, "the Desire of all nations" (Moore). The shaking of nations implies judgments of wrath on the foes of God's people, to precede the reign of the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 13:13). The kingdoms of the world are but the scaffolding for God's spiritual temple, and will be thrown down when their purpose is accomplished. The transitoriness of all that is earthly should lead men to seek "peace" in Messiah's everlasting kingdom (Haggai 2:9; Hebrews 12:27-28). (Moore.) The Jews in Haggai's times hesitated about going forward with the work, through dread of the world-power, Medo-Persia, which was influenced by the craft of Samaria. The prophet assures them that this and all other world-powers are to fall before Messiah, who is to be associated with this temple; therefore they need fear naught.
So the sense is explained in Hebrews 12:26, which quotes this passage: the apostle compares the heavier punishment which awaits the disobedient under the New Testament with that which met such under the Old Testament. At the establishment of the Sinaitic covenant, only the earth was shaken to introduce it, but now heaven and earth and all things are to be shaken - i:e., along with prodigies in the world of nature, all kingdoms that stand in the way of Messiah's kingdom, "which cannot be shaken," are to be upturned (Daniel 2:35; Daniel 2:44; Matthew 21:44). Hebrews 12:27, "Yet once more" favours the English version. Paul condenses together the two verses of Haggai (Haggai 2:6-7; Haggai 2:21-22), implying that it was one and the same shaking-of which the former verses of Haggai denote the beginning, the latter the end. The shaking began introductory to the first advent; it will be finished at the second.
Concerning the former, cf. Matthew 3:17; Matthew 27:51; Matthew 28:2; Acts 2:2; Acts 2:4; Acts 2:31: concerning the latter, Matthew 24:7; Revelation 16:20; Revelation 18:20-21; Revelation 20:11 (Bengel). There is scarcely a prophecy of Messiah in the Old Testament which does not, to some extent at least, refer to His second coming (Sir Isaac Newton). Psalms 68:8 mentions the heavens dropping at the presence of Yahweh at the mountain (Sinai); but Haggai speaks of the whole created heavens: 'Wait only a little while though the promised event is not apparent yet, for soon will God change things for the better: do not stop short with these preludes, and fix your eyes on the present state of the temple' (Calvin). God shook the heavens by the lightnings at Sinai; the earth, that it should give forth waters; the sea, that it should be divided asunder. In Christ's time, God shook the heaven, when He spake from it; the earth, when it quaked; the sea, when He commanded the winds and waves (Grotius). Cicero records at the time of Christ the silencing of the pagan oracles; and Dio, the fall of the idols in the Roman capitol.
And 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.
And I will shake all nations - not convert; but I will cause that agitation which is to precede Messiah's coming, as the healer of the nations' agitations. The previous shaking shall cause the yearning "desire" for the Prince of peace. Moore, etc., translate, 'the beauty,' or "the desirable things (the precious gifts) of all nations shall come" (Isaiah 60:5; Isaiah 60:11; Isaiah 61:6). He brings these objections to applying "the Desire of all nations" to Messiah.
(1) The Hebrew х chemdat (H2532)] means the quality, not the thing desired-namely, its desirableness or beauty. But the abstract is often put for the concrete. So 'a man of desires' - i:e., one desired or desirable (margin, Daniel 9:23; Daniel 10:3; Daniel 10:11).
(2) Messiah was not desired by all nations, but a "root out of a dry ground," having "no beauty that we should desire Him" (Isaiah 53:2). But what is implied is not that the nations definitely desired Him, but that He was the only one to satisfy the yearning desires which all felt unconsciously for a Saviour, shown in their painful rites and bloody sacrifices. Moreover, while the Jews, as a nation, desired Him not (to which people Isaiah 53:2 refers), the Gentiles, who are plainly pointed out by "all nations," accepted Him; and so to them He was peculiarly desirable.
(3) The verb "shall come" х baa'uw (H935)] is plural, which requires the noun to be understood in the plural, whereas, if Messiah be intended, the noun is singular. But when two nouns stand together, of which one is governed by the other, the verb agrees sometimes in number with the latter, though it really has the former as its nominative -
i.e., the Hebrew "come" is made in number to agree with "nations," though really agreeing with "the desire." Besides, Messiah may be described as realizing in Himself at His coming "the desires (the noun expressing collectively the plural) of all nations:" whence the verb is plural. So in Song of Solomon 5:16, He is altogether lovely;" in the Hebrew [wªkulow machªmadiym] the same word as here, 'all desires' ---- i:e., altogether desirable, or the object of desires. The verb, being masculine, seems covertly to imply that by the feminine collective noun there is implied not mere abstract desirableness, but a man concentrating in Himself all that is desirable-the Embodiment of the "good things to come," unto whom "the gathering of the people should be" (Genesis 49:10), according to Jacob's prophecy here referred to, and whose birth was, according to the angel's announcement to the shepherds, "good tidings of great joy to all people," (Luke 2:10).
(4) Haggai 2:8, "The silver is mine," etc., accords with the translation, 'The choice things of all nations' shall be brought in. But the eighth verse harmonizes quite as well with the English version of Haggai 2:7, as the note at Haggai 2:8 will show.
(5) The Septuagint and the Syriac versions agree with Moore's translation; but the Vulgate confirms the English version: so early Jewish rabbis before Jerome's time. Plato, 'Alcibiades' 2, shows the yearning of the Gentiles after a spiritual deliverer: 'It is therefore necessary,' says Alcibiades, on the subject of acceptable worship, 'to wait until One teach us how we ought to behave toward the gods and men.' Alcibiades replies, 'When shall that time arrive, and who shall that Teacher be? for most glad would I be to see such a man.' The Jews, and those in the adjoining nations instructed by them, looked for Shiloh to come, unto whom the gathering of the people was to be, from Jacob's prophecy (Genesis 49:10). The early patriarchs, Job (Job 19:25-27; Job 33:23-26) and Abraham (John 8:56) desired Him.
And I will fill this house with glory - (Haggai 2:9). As the first temple was filled with the cloud of glory, the symbol of God (1 Kings 8:11; 2 Chronicles 5:14), so this second temple was filled with the "glory" of God (John 1:14) vailed in the flesh (as it were in the cloud) at Christ's first coming, when He entered the temple, and performed miracles, "healing the blind and the lame" who "came to him" there (Matthew 21:12-14); but that "glory is to be revealed at His second coming, as this prophecy in its ulterior reference foretells (Malachi 3:1). The Jews before the destruction of Jerusalem all expected Messiah would appear in the second temple. Since that time they invent various forced and false interpretations of such plain Messianic prophecies.
The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.
The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts - (Job 41:11; Psalms 50:12). Ye are disappointed at the absence of these precious metals in the adorning of this temple as compared with the first temple. If I pleased I could adorn this temple with them, but I will adorn it with a "glory" (Haggai 2:7; Haggai 2:9) far more precious-namely, with the presence of my Divine Son in His vailed glory first, and at His second coming with His revealed glory (Zechariah 2:5), accompanied with outward adornment of gold and silver, of which the golden covering within and without, put on by Herod, is the type. Then shall the nations bring offerings of those precious metals which ye now miss so much (Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 60:3; Isaiah 60:6-7; Ezekiel 43:2; Ezekiel 43:4-5; Ezekiel 44:4). The heavenly Jerusalem shall be similarly adorned, but shall need "no temple" (Revelation 21:10-22). Compare 1 Corinthians 3:12, where gold and silver represent the most precious things. The inward glory of the New Testament redemption far exceeds the outward glory of the Old Testament dispensation. So, in the case of the individual poor believer, God, if He pleased, could bestow gold and silver, but He bestows far better treasures, the possession of which might be endangered by that of the former (James 2:5).
The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.
The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former - namely, through the presence of Messiah, in whose face is given the light of the knowledge of the glory of God (2 Corinthians 4:6: cf. Hebrews 1:2), and who said of Himself, "In this place is one [or, literally, a something greater, meizon (G3185): the indefiniteness marking the infinite vastness whereby He is] greater than the temple" (Matthew 12:6), and who "sat daily teaching in it" (Matthew 26:55). Though Zerubbabel's temple was taken down to the foundations when Herod rebuilt the temple, the latter was considered, in a religious point of view, as not a third temple, but virtually the second temple.
And in this place will I give peace - namely, at Jerusalem, the metropolis of the kingdom of God, whose seat was the temple, where Messiah "made peace through the blood of His cross" (Colossians 1:20). Thus the "glory" consists in this "peace." This peace begins by the removal of the difficulty in the way of the just God accepting the guilty (Psalms 85:8; Psalms 85:10; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 53:5; Zechariah 6:13; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19); then it creates peace in the sinner's own heart (Isaiah 57:19; Acts 10:36; Romans 5:1; Romans 14:17; Ephesians 2:13-17; Philippians 4:7); then it shall at last make peace in the whole earth (Micah 5:5; Luke 2:14). First, peace between God and man, then between man and God, then between man and man (Isaiah 2:4; Hosea 2:18; Zechariah 9:1-17; Zechariah 10:1-12). As "Shiloh" (Genesis 49:10) means peace, this verse confirms the view that Haggai 2:7, "the Desire of all nations," refers to Shiloh or Messiah, foretold in Genesis 49:10.
In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying,
Sacrifices without obedience (in respect to God's command to build the temple) could not sanctify. Now that they are obedient, God will bless them, though no sign is seen of fertility as yet.
Verse 10. In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month - three days more than two months from the second prophecy (Haggai 2:1); in the month Chisleu, the lunar one about the time of our December. The Jews seem to have made considerable progress in the work in the interval (Haggai 2:15-18).
Verse 12. If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread ... shall it be holy? And the priests answered ... No. "Holy flesh" (i:e., the flesh of a sacrifice, Jeremiah 11:15), indeed, makes holy the "skirt" in which it is carried: but that "skirt" cannot impart its sanctity to anything beyond, as "bread," etc. (Leviticus 6:27). This is cited to illustrate the principle, that a sacrifice, holy, as enveloping divine things (just as the "skirt" is "holy" which envelopes "holy flesh") cannot, by its inherent or, opus operatum, intrinsic efficacy, make holy a person whose disobedience, as that of the Jews while neglecting God's house, made him unholy.
Verse 13. If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered ... It shall be unclean. On the other hand, a legally "unclean" person imparts his uncleanness to anything, whereas a legally holy thing cannot confer its sanctity on an "unclean" person (Numbers 19:11; Numbers 19:13; Numbers 19:22). Legal sanctity is not so readily communicated as legal impurity. So the paths to sin are manifold: the path to holiness one, and that one of difficult access (Grotius). One drop of filth will defile a vase of water: many drops of water will not purify a vase of filth (Moore).
Verse 14. Then answered Haggai - "answered" is not merely here used in the general sense, 'continued the discourse,' but with particular reference to the second reply of the priests in Haggai 2:13, "Then Haggai answered (in rejoinder to the priests' answer) and said." So is this people ... and so is every work of their hands. Heretofore not in such an obedient state of mind as to deserve to be called my people (Titus 1:15). Here he applies the two cases just stated. By case first, "this people" is not made "holy" by their offerings "there" (namely, on the altar built in the open air, under Cyrus, Ezra 3:3). Though the ritual sacrifice can ordinarily sanctify outwardly so far as it reaches (Hebrews 9:13), as the "holy flesh" sanctified the "skirt," yet it cannot make the offerers, in their persons and all their works (answering to the "bread, pottage, wine, or oil," Haggai 2:12), acceptable to God, because lacking the spirit of obedience (1 Samuel 15:22), so long as they neglected to build the Lord's house. On the contrary, by case second, they made "unclean" their very offerings by being unclean through "dead works" (disobedience), just as the person unclean by contact with a dead body imparted his uncleanness to all that he touched (cf. Hebrews 9:14). This all applies to them as they heretofore had been, not as they at present are, now that they have begun to obey: the design is to guard them against falling back again. 'That indeed is holy which is offered on the altar; but the man who offers it is not so much rendered holy by his offerings as he is rendered unclean by neglecting the ordinances of God' (and by his disobedience to God). (Rosenmuller.)
And that which they offer there is unclean. The "there" points to the altar, probably in view of the audience which the prophet addressed.
Verse 15. And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward - literally, lay it to heart. Ponder earnestly, retracing the past upward (i:e., backward, comparing what evils heretofore befell you, before ye set about this work, with the present time, when you have again commenced it, and when, in consequence, I now engage to 'bless you.' Hence, ye may perceive the evils of disobedience and the blessing of obedience.
Verse 16. Since those days were - from the time that those days of your neglect of the temple work have been.
When one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten - i:e., to a heap which he had expected would be 1 of 20 measures, there were only 10 mesures.
When one came to the press-fat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty. As the Septuagint translates (meetreetees) 'measure,' and the Vulgate 'a flagon,' and as we should rather expect vat than press, Maurer translates [puwraat] (omitting vessels, which is not in the original) 'plurals,' or 'wine-measures.' From the original meaning, wine-press (Isaiah 63:3), the word came to mean the measure in which the wine was drawn out of the press.
Verse 17. I smote you with blasting and with mildew ... yet ye turned not to me, saith the Lord. Appropriated from Amos 4:9, whose canonicity is thus sealed by Haggai's inspired authority; in the last clause, "turned," however, has to be supplied, its omission marking, by the elliptical abruptness ('yet ye not to me!') God's displeasure. Compare '(let him come) unto me!' Moses in excitement omitting the bracketed words (Exodus 32:26). "Blasting" results from excessive drought; "mildew," from excessive moisture.
Verse 18. Consider now from this day and upward. Resumed from Haggai 2:15, after Haggai 2:16-17, that the blessing in Haggai 2:19 may stand in the more marked contrast with the curse in Haggai 2:16-17. Affliction will harden the heart, if not referred to God as its author (Moore).
From the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid. The first foundation beneath the earth had been long ago laid, after the altar had been set up (Ezra 3:1; Ezra 3:8), in the second year of Cyrus, 535 BC (Ezra 3:10), on the year after that of the return from Babylon; the foundation now laid was the secondary one, which, above the earth, was laid on the previous work (Tirinus). Or translate, 'From this day on which the temple is being begun,' namely, on the foundations long ago laid (Grotius). But these are forced explanations. Not only were the foundations laid long before the 24th day of the 9th month, the second year of Darius, but some of the superstructure. Maurer translates, 'Consider ... from the four and twentieth day ... to (the time which has elapsed) from the day on which the foundation ... was laid' - i:e., Consider the time that has elapsed between the present day (the 24th day of the 9th month) and the former time, namely, the day of the first foundation of the temple.
The Hebrew [lªmin, see Hebrew, Deuteronomy 4:32; Jeremiah 7:7; 2 Samuel 7:11] supports the English version. I think the intervening period between the two points of time is contemplated, starting from the day in which Haggai speaks (the 24th day of the 9th month), and going 'upward' or backwards, and also "from the day that the foundation of the temple was (first) laid," and going downward or forward, so that the interval between those two starting points, with its attendant blessings, is what Haggai asks them to "consider" (literally, apply their heart or mind to). Before this 24th day they had not prosecuted the work which they had long ago begun, as Haggai implies, with due diligence. On this 24th day they began to work in thorough earnest. Therefore the promise of the blessing from this day follows in Haggai 2:19. The "work" which "they came and did in the house of the Lord of hosts" (Haggai 1:14) was probably a mere collecting of wood, stones, and materials for the work; they do not seem to have persevered in the work, as Haggai's reproof here implies.
Verse 19. Is the seed yet in the barn? - implying, It is not. It has been already sown this month, and there are no more signs of its bearing a good crop, much less of its being safely stored in the barn, than there were in the past season, when there was such a failure; yet I promise to you from this day (emphatically marking by the repetition the connection of the blessing with the day of their obedience) a blessing in an abundant harvest. So also the vine, etc., which heretofore have borne little or nothing, shall be blessed with productiveness. Thus it will be made evident that the blessing is due to me, not to nature. We may trust God's promise to bless us, though we see no visible sign of its fulfillment (Habakkuk 2:3).
And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying,
God's promise through Zerubbabel to Israel of safety in the coming commotions.
Verse 20. Again the word of the Lord came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month - the 9th month in the second year of Darius (Haggai 2:18). The same date as Prophecy III (Haggai 2:10).
Verse 21. Speak to Zerubbabel. Perhaps Zerubbabel had asked as to the convulsions foretold (Haggai 2:6-7). This is the reply: The Jews had been led to fear that these convulsions would destroy their national existence. Zerubbabel, therefore, as their civil leader and representative, is addressed, not Joshua, their religious leader. Messiah is the antitypical Zerubbabel, their national Representative and King, with whom God the Father makes the covenant wherein they, as identified with Him, are assured of safety in God's electing love (cf. Haggai 2:23, "I ... will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee"). Verse 21. I will shake the heavens and the earth - (note, Haggai 2:6-7). There shall be violent political convulsions accompanied with physical prodigies (Matthew 24:7; Matthew 24:29).
Verse 22. And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen. All other world-kingdoms are to be overthrown, to make way for Christ's universal kingdom (Daniel 2:44).
Verse 23. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, will I take thee - under my protection, and to promote thee and thy people to honour, as I "chose David" thy forefather, "and took him from the sheepfolds ... to feed Jacob (my) people" (Psalms 78:70).
And will make thee as a signet - (Song of Solomon 8:6; Jeremiah 22:24). A ring with a seal on it; the legal representative of the owner; generally of precious stones and gold, etc., and much valued. Being worn on the finger, it was an object of constant regard. In all which points of view the theocratic people and their representative, Zerubbabel, the type, and Messiah his descendant, the antitype, and the spiritual Israel, the Church, are regarded by God. The safety of Israel to the end is guaranteed in Messiah, in whom God hath chosen them as His own, "in whom (He) will be glorified" (Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:1; Isaiah 49:3). So the spiritual Israel is sealed in their covenant-head by His Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:20; 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 1:13-14). All is ascribed, not to the merits of Zerubbabel, but to God's gratuitous choice. Christ is the "signet" on God's hand: always in the Father's presence, ever pleasing in His sight. The signet of an Eastern monarch was the sign of delegated authority; so Christ wields "all power given unto (Him) in heaven and in earth," and hath "all judgment committed" unto Him by the Father (Matthew 28:18; John 5:22-23).
(1) Men are too apt to judge of the value of things by the outward appearance, which is called by our Lord a judging after the flesh (John 8:15). In outward splendour the second temple was inferior, especially in its first beginnings, to the temple of Solomon. But in the truest glory it was far superior to the former temple. For in it Messiah walked, worshipped, and glorified the Father. Jesus, who visited the temple of Zerubbabel, was the brightness of the Father's glory, the express image of His person (Hebrews 1:3). Though the second temple had not what were in the Jews' eyes the glory of the first temple, the Shekinah-cloud, the ark, the sacred fire, the Urim and the Thummim, and the spirit of prophecy, it was honoured with the presence in it of the grand Antitype to all these, "God manifest in the flesh."
(2) This prophecy alone confutes the Jews. For if Messiah has never yet come, as they say, wherein can it be shown that "the glory of the latter house was greater than of the former" (Haggai 2:9). In all other respects it was inferior to its predecessor, except in that one which outweighed infinitely all the rest, the presence of the incarnate God.
(3) Moreover, the times of the second temple were preeminently times of trouble, first under the Persian kings, then under Antiochus Epiphanes, and finally under the Romans, who at last utterly destroyed the temple. In what sense then can the prophecy be understood, "In this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts" (Haggai 2:9). To the unbelieving Jews the difficulty is incapable of solution. To the true Christian it is a truth full of unspeakable, experimental comfort, that Christ is "our peace" (Ephesians 2:14).
(4) Yea, more; as it was in the "place" where Haggai spake that Christ first gave "peace through the blood of his cross" (Colossians 1:20) to all believers, so it shall be "in this" same "place" that He, from His throne in Jerusalem, shall hereafter, in manifested glory, "give peace," first to His long-separated and outcast people, and then to all nations. As the second temple began with humble and despised beginnings, but finally had preeminent glory attached to it, so Jesus, who came among us at first in great lowliness, shall at last come in all His glorious majesty. The "shaking" of all earthly kingdoms, as moveable and transitory (Hebrews 12:26-28), is the necessary preliminary before setting up "the kingdom that cannot be moved" (Haggai 2:6-7). It is true "the desire of all nations" has already come (Haggai 2:7), and has given peace with God and with their own consciences to all who believe. These indeed know Him as the only portion they desire, the "altogether lovely." But all nations, and even His own elect nation, do not as yet call Him blessed. The agitations of wars in the political world, accompanied with corresponding commotions and convulsions in the natural world, are, therefore, permitted and ordained by God as about to continue unto, and to multiply especially toward the end, in order that "the distress of nations with perplexity" (Luke 21:25-27), may create a longing desire throughout the world for the advent of the Prince of Peace, the Great Healer of the woes of humanity.
(5) It is to many a stumblingblock that true Christians often possess now but little of the outward world-glitter of "the silver and the gold" (Haggai 2:8). But let believers remember, God could give these if He pleased; because they are wholly His. But it is His will, that in this dispensation His people should walk by faith, and not as yet by sight. In due time the outward glories of the Christian temple shall be revealed with transcendent splendour in the city of our God (Revelation 21:10-26).
(6) Meanwhile let us not be discouraged by the comparatively humble aspect of true Christianity on earth now (Haggai 2:3). "The Lord of hosts" saith to every fearful believer, "Be strong and work, for I am with you" - unseen, it is true, but realized in quickening, enlightening, comforting, sanctifying, and strengthening power by all my people (Haggai 2:4). Whatever be our difficulties and discouragements, if the work that we have in hand be the Lord's work, and if the Lord be with us, we have a power on our side which nothing can withstand. God's "covenant" engages to His people that His "Spirit" will "remain with" them to the end. Therefore they have nothing to "fear" and everything to hope (Haggai 2:5).
(7) Attendance to outward ordinances reaches but a short way; it cannot sanctify so as to render those persons acceptable to God who lack the internal principle of faith and obedience (Haggai 2:12-14). Nay, those who are unclean before God because of "dead works," thereby render unclean all their services.
(8) From the moment that we unreservedly yield ourselves up unto God we may confidently calculate on His blessing (Haggai 2:15-19). The path of duty is the path of safety, comfort, and peace in the end. Though we do not see the immediate good fruits of faith and obedience, we can well afford to wait in confident anticipation of them. God's promises are all sure: they are infinitely to be preferred, even in prospect, to the world's best things in possession.
(9) Believers need not fear though great revolutions and upheavals of kingdoms, and even convulsions in the physical world, are impending (Haggai 2:21-22). For the Lord of hosts hath from everlasting to everlasting "chosen" His people in Christ, the Antitype to Zerubbabel (Haggai 2:23). He is the "signet" in the Father's hand; and they are sealed in Him as safe forever. They are sealed with His Holy Spirit as the children of God, and heirs of that kingdom before which ere long all earthly kingdoms shall fall. Let us, as believers, rejoice to know, that "all the promises of God in him are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God" (2 Corinthians 1:20).