Summary: The Jews were fearful that their disobedience in not rebuilding the Temple was going to put them back into exile, but in their repentance they see a loving and forgiving God that absolutely blows their mind!
1In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 2"Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, 3'Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? 4Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, 5according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. 6For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. 8The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts. 9The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.'"
So let’s back up just a bit and look at what we have learned while studying here in Haggai. 1st Haggai the prophet comes to the people who had returned from the exile and had been given the task of rebuilding the wall and the Temple in the city of Jerusalem.
With Nehemiah’s help they completed the wall in less than 2 months, but it had now been 16 years and the Temple was left unfinished. They had stopped and had been focused on their own houses and lives. Haggai was sent by God to get their attention and to tell them that their focus was wrong… they had lost sight of what God wanted, and God was calling them to refocus.
The people were scared because they had just returned from a long exile and they knew that the reason they had been exiled in the first place was disobedience to God… they were afraid that God was going to exile them again! So they repented, changed their lifestyles and began to accomplish what God desired. They became obedient to the call of God.
Upon their repentance and submission to obedience, God comes to the people again thru the prophet Haggai, but this time it was NOT a message of judgment…but redemption! God promises them that He is WITH THEM. He reassures them that He would NOT abandon them to exile or to another nation.
His loving reassurance is made known to the people and they begin to work with a renewed spirit and courage. God stirred their hearts to be faithful in their obedience and submission to His plan. All of this happens in a three week span after Haggai’s first prophetic sermon and the Temple begins to be rebuilt.
Now, when we reach chapter 2 we find that another month has gone by when God speaks through His prophet once again, and that is where we pick up the story tonight!
In v.1 of chapter 2 we find out that it has been 28-29 days since God had reassured these people and they had gotten back to the work of rebuilding the Temple. And the people had begun to see what they were doing and the implication from the verses here in chapter 2 is that the Temple they were building was FAR smaller than the Temple they had known prior to the exile, and for many, this was a heartbreaking revelation.
2"Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say,
Here in v.2 God speaks again in a comforting and reassuring manner to the people about what they are doing. HE speaks again through the prophet Haggai…
3'Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes?
Here we see the problem, God knows their hearts and even if none of them were lamenting about this out loud, it was in their hearts!
I can just imagine their heart break… the Temple had been a massive monument to God, it was constructed by Solomon and it represented the great glory of the God they served… tall and majestic, overlaid in gold with all the royal trimmings fit for the King of Creation, the Temple was actually a source of pride for the Jews.