Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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Scripture Passage

      Haggai - Chapter 02 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. On the twenty-first day of the next month, the LORD told Haggai the prophet to speak this message to Governor Zerubbabel, High Priest Joshua, and everyone else:
    2. (SEE 2:1)
    3. Does anyone remember how glorious this temple used to be? Now it looks like nothing.
    4. But cheer up! Because I, the LORD All-Powerful, will be here to help you with the work,
    5. just as I promised your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt. Don't worry. My Spirit is right here with you.
    6. Soon I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.
    7. I will shake the nations, and their treasures will be brought here. Then the brightness of my glory will fill this temple.
    8. All silver and gold belong to me,
    9. and I promise that this new temple will be more glorious than the first one. I will also bless this city with peace.
    10. On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, the LORD God All-Powerful told the prophet Haggai
    11. to ask the priests for their opinion on the following matter:
    12. Suppose meat ready to be sacrificed to God is being carried in the folds of someone's clothing, and the clothing rubs against some bread or stew or wine or olive oil or any other food. Would those foods that were touched then become acceptable for sacrifice? "Of course not," the priests answered.
    13. Then Haggai said, "Suppose someone has touched a dead body and is considered unacceptable to worship God. If that person touches these foods, would they become unclean?" "Of course they would," the priests answered.
    14. So the LORD told Haggai to say: That's how it is with this entire nation. Everything you do and every sacrifice you offer is unacceptable to me.
    15. But from now on, things will get better. Before you started laying the foundation for the temple,
    16. you recalled what life was like in the past. When you wanted twenty bushels of wheat, there were only ten, and when you wanted fifty jars of wine, there were only twenty.
    17. I made all of your hard work useless by sending mildew, mold, and hail--but you still did not return to me, your LORD.
    18. Today you have completed the foundation for my temple, so listen to what your future will be like.
    19. Although you have not yet harvested any grain, grapes, figs, pomegranates, or olives, I will richly bless you in the days ahead.
    20. That same day the LORD spoke to Haggai again and said:
    21. Tell Governor Zerubbabel of Judah that I am going to shake the heavens and the earth
    22. and wipe out kings and their kingdoms. I will overturn war chariots, and then cavalry troops will start slaughtering each other.
    23. But tell my servant Zerubbabel that I, the LORD All-Powerful, have chosen him, and he will rule in my name.

Haggai - Chapter 02

Entered: October 27, 2009
Haggai's prophecy concludes on a positive note which is not the case in most of the books of prophecy. Most conclude on a note of pending destruction if the nation does not change its ways, and we know that in most of these cases they did not. But Haggai's prophecy concludes on a note of pending blessing.

Haggai delivers four messages in the two chapters of this book, and chapter 2 begins with the second of these messages. It was a message of encouragement. The people had become obedient and returned to rebuilding the temple. So the Lord delivered a message of encouragement to them through Haggai. "Be strong," He tells them, "Work! For I am with you." This was the Lord's declaration to them. Not only was this a rebuilding of the temple, but also a rebuilding of the people and the nation. God reminds them that the promise of His presence with them is like the same promise He made when they came out of Egypt. Then he adds to this promise three others: "I will shake all the nations so that the treasures of all the nations will come," "The final glory of this house will be greater than the first," and, "I will provide peace in this place."

When we put our hand to God's work He puts His blessing on it and provides the resources. This remnant of Judah that had just come out of exile had nothing with which to adorn this new temple, but God was going to take care of that detail. He would shake the other nations and they would provide the adornment of various treasures. It is thought that the other two promises given in verse 9 refer to the coming Messiah. This temple would be standing when Jesus appeared on the scene some 4-5 centuries later. His presence in this temple would give it greater glory that even the Solomonic temple enjoyed. It would also be Jesus', the Prince of Peace, whose presence in this second temple that would provide it peace.

The third message, which begins in verse 10, was a reminder of their state when they began this rebuilding project. They were a disobedient, or defiled, people. Their condition was compared to ceremonial items that were either consecrated or defiled. A consecrated garment that carried consecrated meat did not transfer that consecration to bread or another item that might be placed in the garment. But a person or item that had been defiled transferred that defilement to anything in which it came in contact. Then they were reminded of their state when they began the project. They were defiled by disobedience and everything they put their hand to was also defiled, referring to the lack of productiveness of their crops. But this was about to change. Because they were now obedient and were consecrated, or set apart, to the building of the temple, God would bless them in what else they set their hand to do.

A fourth message follows quickly behind the third. While the first three messages were addressed to the people and their leaders, this fourth one is addressed to Zerubbabel and is more difficult to understand. He was encouraged with word of what the Lord would do. This included shaking the heavens and earth and overturning the thrones of Gentile kingdoms. But what specifically is the references? That is the question. Zerubbabel was a descendant of King David and it is thought, by some, that his role as the Lord's "signet ring" was a representative one linking David's lineage to the coming Messiah who would be the one through whom this promise would be fulfilled, including the overthrow of Gentile kingdoms.

The closing words of the book are, "This is the declaration of the Lord of Hosts." As with many of the Lord's declarations of His plans for the future, we are not certain of all to which they refer. But we can be certain that the Lord has declared it and it will come to pass, and for those who are obedient to Him, it will be good.

Entered: October 14, 2015

The message of Haggai chapter one was given to encourage the people to renew their efforts to rebuild the temple. The message of chapter two comes a month after they have begun the work once again. The work at this stage was probably hard and with little encouragement, for they had no doubt had to remove rubble from the destruction with little or no work yet on actual construction. During these efforts their thoughts had gone to the state of the temple compared to the glory of Solomon's temple.

Through Haggai God posed three questions to them addressing these thoughts. Who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Doesn't it seem like nothing to you? The topic of these questions was being discussed among the people, but through these questions God turned the discussion to include Him. It wasn't that He didn't know what they were saying. Obviously He did. But He was not included in their thoughts. He wanted to be included in the discussion and to guide their thoughts.

Having inserted Himself into the conversation, the Lord took it from the past and present into the future. Don't think about how glorious the temple was before and how hideous it is now, the Lord was saying to them. Think instead about how it will yet be. I, the Lord, am directing your efforts and "The silver and gold belong to Me. . . The final glory of this house will be greater than the first." This vision of the future glory of the temple is yet future, pointing to the millenial temple.

In verse 10 and following the Lord turned to the practical side of rebuilding the temple. Doing so would turn blight into blessing. God told Haggai to have the people reflect back to before they began work on the temple. At that time they were getting diminished returns on their crops such as grain and wine. Though they had stockpiled their grain, for instance, what should have amounted to 20 measures only amounted to 10, and the same was true with the wine. This was because God had struck them with blight, mildew, and hail.

Having reflected on their previous condition God had them take note of the present day and from there forward. Through obedience to the task the Lord had given them they would find that the Lord was no longer sending them blight but was instead sending them blessing. Though their granaries and wine vats were currently empty as a result of their past sin, from this day forward they should note how God was blessing them as a result of their continued obedience.

Leading into this message of turning blight into blessing, the Lord had Haggai ask the priests two questions. The first was whether consecrated meat could cause bread, stew, and other foods to become holy? The answer was no. The second question was whether a person who had become defiled could defile these same food objects. The answer to this question was yes. The point in these questions was that while defilement can be transferred, holiness cannot. When applied to their situation it meant that their offerings and sacrifices did not sanctify their other activities of disobedience. Instead, their defilement due to their disobedience also defiled their offerings and sacrifices. Only obedience would sanctify their lives and turn the blight into blessing.

Verses 1-19 addressed the people and their role of rebuilding the temple. To encourage them God gave them a vision of the future glory of the temple, bringing to bear His access to the treasures of the world to make it happen. Now, in verses 20-23, God had Haggai address Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah. This may have been to encourage him in his task of rebuilding the nation when the resources at hand for doing so were so meager. But God wanted him to see out into the future at what was possible with the Lord's intervention. Israel would become great again but not simply by determining to do so. Their future greatness would be a result of God's might. He would overturn the thrones of the other nations and destroy their power. But He would empower and bless Israel as a nation. So declared "the Lord of Hosts."