Summary: In chapter two we have three messages from the word of the Lord by Haggai to Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the remnant of the people for their encouragement in restoring the temple.
In this chapter we have three messages from the word of the Lord by Haggai to Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the remnant of the people for their encouragement in restoring the temple. They are told the temple they are building will in respect to the spiritual will exceed that of Solomon’s temple. In the second message Haggai will assure Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the remnant of the people though their sin in delaying the restoration of the temple had a negative effect on their lives, now that they are restoring the temple the Lord will bless them and give success in what they are doing. In the third message Haggai assures Zerubbabel that as a reward for his pious zeal and activity, he will be a favorite of heaven and one of the ancestors of Messiah the Prince whose kingdom will be set in the ruins of all opposing powers.
Verse one - three - “On the twenty-first day of the seventh month,” the last day of the feast of Tabernacles, “the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet saying, speak now to Zerubbabel....and to Joshua....and to the remnant of the people saying, ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison?”
It is possible there were among the workers restoring the temple men who saw Solomon’s temple in all its glory. They had to admit there would be no comparison between the restored temple and the temple dedicated by Solomon some four hundred and forty years earlier at the feast of Tabernacles (1st King 8:2). A similar comparison was made when the foundation of the temple was laid about 15 years earlier (Ezra 3:8-13).
When comparisons are made we need to remember God’s view of what we do is not the same as man’s view (Zechariah 8:6; 1st Samuel 16:7). We need to remember when we do something that is pleasing in the sight of God our pride will not let us be satisfied with what we have accomplished unless it meets the standards of those whose abilities exceed ours. This comparison can have a discouraging effect.
Zerubbabel, Joshua, and all the people of the land are told by the Lord through Haggai:
Verse four - “But now take courage...and work”
It is true, from the viewpoint of man Zerubbabel’s temple will be inferior to Solomon’s temple. But Zerubbabel and Joshua must not let this discourage them. If they are discouraged it will effect the attitude of the people who are doing their best to restore the temple. We may think our best is not enough, but our best is all the Lord asks of us. If those who are overseeing the restoration project have a good attitude about the project the worker will have a good attitude.
The encouragement needed in the restoration of the temple, in doing the will of the Lord is the advice given to Zerubbabel;
Verse four - “I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts.”
The Lord of hosts made this same promise in chapter one verse thirteen. The presence of the Lord overcomes fears, disappointments, and discouragement. When we are in the dark days of life it is the presence of the Lord that turns the night into day. The people who were restoring the temple had hundreds opposing them, but they had the Lord of hosts with them. He will fight for them and intercede for them. If the Lord is for us, who can be against us? The extent of the presence of the Lord is revealed in verse five.
Verse five - “As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst, do not fear.”
Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the remnant of the people have nothing to fear. They have the Lord of hosts on their side, His Spirit is abiding in their midst, and He will keep the promises He made when Israel came out of Egypt. Although the Lord has punished them for their transgressions the promises He made when they came out of Egypt were not nullified.
The Lord dwells among His people by His Spirit, even though His Spirit is often grieved and provoked to withdraw from them for a season, He is now with them. It was the Spirit of the Lord of hosts that stirred up their spirits to come out of Babylon (Ezra 1:5). It was the Spirit of the Lord of hosts that stirred up the spirits of the people to resume the restoration of the temple (Haggai 1:14). Although the Lord is going to “Once more...shake the heavens and earth, the sea...and the dry land” Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people have nothing to fear. The Lord is going to do what He did when He brought His people out of Egypt.