Today we will consider the book of Haggai. He is one of the prophets through whom God spoke during the rebuilding of the Temple (see Ezra 5:1, 6:14). In particular, we saw yesterday that even though the Jews were under an injunction to cease building from the Persian king (see Ezra 4:21), God spoke through Haggai to tell them to resume construction. The first chapter of the book of Haggai records this very prophecy.
We see that Haggai prophesied during the second year of Darius (1:1 – see Ezra 4:24). In verse 2, God says that these people – the returned exiles – say that it is not time to build the Temple. They were heeding the word of man rather than God. So God asks them why the command from the king not to rebuild any part of the city has not stopped them from building their own houses (v. 4). And because they have heeded man and not God, and have sought their own comfort over obedience, they have missed God’s blessings (v. 5-6, 9-11). So He commands them to build the Temple (vv. 7-8).
The people heed the command of God (v. 12). So God was with them (v. 13). And God does more than stir up the spirit of the governor, the High Priest, and the people (v. 14), we know that He sovereignly stirred up the hearts of the Persian kings to make it happen (see Ezra 6:14). God is sovereign over the budling of His Temple.
Chapter 2 is a prophecy from about a month after the building began (2:1 – see 1:15). Haggai is sent to the governor, the High Priest, and the people God asks who remembers Solomon’s Temple (v. 3). As we saw, those who remembered that Temple wept when the foundation was laid because of its relative lack of glory (see Ezra 3:12). But God tells them not to be fooled by the more humble Temple – even in a more humble Temple, God is with the people by His Spirit (vv. 4-5). This is a pointer to Christ Who humbled Himself as the true Temple (John 2:19-21) to be with His people, and still is by His Spirit (see John 16).
Verses 6-9 speak of the work of Christ at His Second Coming. He will return in glory and will reign as King over all (including all nations – v. 7). He will be in the midst of His people forever and bring them eternal peace. God is here signaling that the physical Temple is not the place of His presence. His people are. And in a little while, He would physically be among them in the person of Christ, and then spiritually by His Spirit, and then both at His Second Coming.
The next prophecy is for the priests (vv. 10-11). God asks the questions about cleanness and uncleanness through physical contact (vv. 12-13) as a metaphor for the heart of the people. What is done outwardly is made unclean by a sinful heart (v. 14). It was the heart of the people that kept them from God’s presence and His blessing (vv. 15-18). The Temple foundation was laid (physically) and yet God did not bless them. But from this day forward He will (v. 19), because the foundation of the Temple (His presence) is the heart of His people (see Mark 7:21-23).
The book ends with a prophecy about Zerubbabel. This is not unrelated to the previous two prophecies of this chapter. God again speaks about the work of Christ across His two comings. The shaking of the creation (v. 21 – see v. 6) and the overthrowing of nations (v. 22) speak spiritually of Christ’s First Coming, and physically of His second. The “on that day” of verses 23 is the day of the completion of God’s plan of salvation (and judgment) at the Second Coming. Zerubbabel will be long gone by that day. He is here a type of Christ. He is the metaphoric undoing of the removal of the Davidic line from ruling His people (see Jer 22:24). This is tying in the previous two prophecies and placing them in the context of Messianic hope. God’s promise has not been broken by the sins of Israel!