Read the Passage: Haggai 2
Coming Glory (2:1–9)
Recall that Haggai is the first of the post-exilic prophets—the others being Zechariah and Malachi—whom God called to speak to those who had returned to Jerusalem from Persia (cf. Ezra 5:1). Haggai’s aim was to encourage the Jews to rebuild the temple, which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. In Hag. 2:3 God rhetorically asked, “Who saw this temple in its former glory? . . . In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing?” While this question may imply that Haggai had seen Solomon’s temple, God’s point in this verse is to recognize that some were discouraged from rebuilding the temple, as it was insignificant compared to the former building. God then encouraged the builders by telling them “I am with you” (Hag. 2:4) and “My Spirit remains among you” (Hag. 2:5). This is an important reminder given the Spirit’s earlier departure from the Temple (cf. Ezek. 10:18–19).
In Hag. 2:6–9 a second prophecy is given by Haggai—the first being in Haggai 1:1–15—that was not fulfilled in the lifetime of those who rebuilt Zerubbabel’s temple. However, this prophecy has been fulfilled, at least in part, with the coming of Jesus. To elaborate, in Hag. 2:6–7 God declared that He would shake the earth and the nations and that “they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory.” This prophecy may refer, at least in part, to a revival and divine judgment in the end-times; however, it is best understood as a prophecy about the Gentiles’ acceptance of Jesus during the present church era. Here God reminded the temple builders that He owns all the silver and gold, and He promises, “The glory of this later temple shall be greater than the former” (Hag. 2:9). The later temple is a reference to Jesus (cf. John 2:19), to believers (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19), and to the church (cf. 1 Pet. 2:4–5).
Promised Blessing (2:10–19)
Haggai’s third prophecy came about four months after his first message, and two months after his second prophecy. This message is unique in that it was addressed to the Levitical priests, whereas his other three prophesies in this book were addressed to Zerubbabel (i.e., the governor and political leader) and to Joshua (i.e., the high priest and religious leader). In this passage, by appealing to certain aspects of the ceremonial law relating to cleanliness (cf. Lev. 22:4–6; Num. 19:11, 22) Haggai taught that man’s sin is contagious, whereas God’s righteousness is not. This is because people are naturally morally corrupt, not morally neutral, or morally good. In other words, since man has a fallen nature, when he is exposed to sin, man is naturally inclined to sin. In contrast, holiness is the exception among mankind, not the rule. Indeed, man must pursue Christ in order to attain holiness.
In Hag. 2:15–19 Haggai reminded the people that their disobedience had moved God to work against them, whereas their obedience would result in God’s blessing (cf. 1 Sam. 15:22; Hos. 6:6). Earlier, Haggai had noted God’s displeasure with the people as he highlighted their fruitless labor, hunger, thirst, and economic scarcity (cf. Hag. 1:6). Now, in Hag. 2:15–19 Haggai again exhorted his readers to “consider” (cf. Hag. 1:5, 7; 2:15, 18) their situation and to recognize God’s frustration of their plans. In Hag. 2:17 God declared, “I struck you with blight and mildew and hail.” In hope, however, God exclaimed, “But from this day I will bless you” (Hag. 2:19). The ideas of sowing and reaping were later appealed to by Paul, in a figurative sense, as he taught, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal. 6:7).
Messiah’s Reign (2:20–23)
Haggai gave his fourth prophecy, which is recorded in Hag. 2:20–23, on the same day as his third message. Observe a phenomenon among some of the prophets, that is present in the book of Haggai, is that their prophecies tend to become more eschatological (or end-times focused) as their books progress. While Haggai’s fourth message is addressed to Zerubbabel, it seems the focus of this prophecy is actually on the Messiah. In this prophecy, which is the shortest of his four messages, Haggai writes about: (1) the shaking of the world, (2) the overthrowing of worldly thrones, (3) the destruction of Gentile kingdoms, (4) the ruin of weapons of war, and (5) the slaying of many with the sword. While some of these events have occurred in part between Haggai’s day and today, these ideas seem best to fit the second coming of Christ, when Jesus will vanquish His enemies.
- What place does prophecy play in the New Testament era? Does God still call and equip prophets to speak to the church today?
- How can we detect the presence of God’s Spirit within an individual or within the church today?
- What does it mean for Jesus to be “the Desire of All Nations” (Hag. 2:7; cf. Isa. 9:6; Zech. 8:23)?
- How have you seen the law of sowing and reaping present in your own life or in the lives of others?
- How would a prophecy of the Messiah’s reign have encouraged the Jews of Haggai’s day to rebuild the temple?