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At a crossroad but I AM is still here

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Introduction

Haggai 2:1–9 NKJV
1 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying: 2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying: 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing? 4 Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the Lord; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts. 5 According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ 6 “For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; 7 and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. 8 ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. 9 ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
In the temporal cultural society that we live in today, we need to have some stability. We need to have faith and trust-and stability in a Power that is greater than our physical power.
There has to be a place we can go for stability and someone that we believe will make change will take place.
The Lord has to be the person and Church has to be the place.
As we can see and feel that Congress and Government will not be able to fix our problems they just compound the situation.
Isaiah 41:10 NKJV
10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Isa
Williams Brothers
Heartaches,I've had my shares of heartaches, but I'm still here Trouble, I've seen my share of troubles, but I'm still here Bruises, I've taken my lumps and bruises, but I'm still here Loneliness, I've had my share of loneliness, but I'm still here
Chorus Through it all I've made it through Another day's journey God kept me here I've made it through Another day's journey God kept me here
Lied on, many times I've been lied on, but I'm still here Burdens, I had to bare so many burdens, but I'm still here Dark days, I've had my share of dark days, but I'm still here Disappointments, I've had so many disappointments, but I'm still here
Chorus
Chorus It's by the grace of God, that I'm still here today He was always there, no matter what came my way I felt the presence of him, in my time of need
Chorus It's by the grace of God, that I'm still here today He was always there, no matter what came my way I felt the presence of him, in my time of need
It's by the grace of God, that I'm still here today He was always there, no matter what came my way I felt the presence of him, in my time of need
Call the Roll
Jarius Daughter
3 Hebrew Boys
Lazarus from the Grave
Congregation knowing the Lord is still here
Haggai 2:1–9 NKJV
1 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying: 2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying: 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing? 4 Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the Lord; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts. 5 According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’ 6 “For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; 7 and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. 8 ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. 9 ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
Haggai was a prophet to the Jews wo had returned from the Exile in Babylon. His First task was to force them to see where their hearts and priorities really lay.
He urged them to do what they should have done from the start: rebuild the temple with a willing heart. To these admonitions he added the promise of God to be with them. With this promise, the people could return to their first enthusiasm and carry out the GOd’s purpose for them.
Hag

Commentary

[1:15b–2:1*] The 21st day of the 7th month therefore must be understood, not as October 28, 521 (see p. 74 above), but as October 17, 520. Four weeks had past since the beginning of work on the temple foundations. Haggai may have had a double reason for speaking a third time. The great eight-day autumn festival (see pp. 73f. above) was always also an occasion for remembering the day when Solomon brought the ark into the first temple, and hence the day of that first temple’s consecration; cf. 1 Kings 8:1–3*, 65f*. In addition, we may conclude from what Haggai says that the first weeks, and the experience of laborious and tedious work on the ruins, had spread discouragement and listlessness. The prophet seizes the traditional opportunity offered by the feast to counter the acute decline of enthusiasm.

[2:2*] The Haggai chronicler tells us that these sayings were addressed not only to the responsible leaders of the community, Zerubbabel and Joshua, as was the case in Haggai’s first discourse (1:1*). He now also names as recipients “the remnant of the people” (that is to say, the homecomers from the gola; see pp. 51f. above). It is these people who are called to undertake the building. This was not yet the case in 1:1*. According to 1:12a*, 14*, they have shown themselves to be obedient listeners to the prophetic call, and its willing followers, and are the people who have been really legitimated out of “the entire people of the land” (cf. 2:4* and p. 73 above). It is noticeable that here there is no longer any talk about the “whole” (כל) remnant, as there is in 1:12a*, 14*. This already bothered the Septuagint (see textual note to 2c). But the simple phrase שׁארית העם, “the remnant of the people,” is normal usage (Zech. 8:6*, 11*, 12*; Neh. 7:71*; cf. Mic. 5:7*; 7:18* and H. W. Wolff, Micha, BK XIV/4, 205).

[2:3*] Haggai’s sayings begin again, as in 1:4* and 2:15f.*, in address style, as he challenges the attitude of his listeners. Even more markedly than before, three questions, with a triple 2nd person plural address, display a passionate attempt to make contact (בעיניכם … חלא—מה אלם—מי בכם). In each of the three questions what is under discussion is a single theme: the temple (הבית הזה, “this house”), as in 1:4* and 2:15*—or here, more precisely, its “glory” (כבודו—אתו—כמהו). The first question challenges the people who can still remember Solomon’s temple; the second asks about the present state of affairs; the third inquires about the consequence.

Who are “the ones who are left”? They are the survivors who were old enough for pictures of Solomon’s temple to have been indelibly imprinted on their minds before the temple burned down in 587, and who now, in the year 520, are still able to participate in the crowd gathered round Haggai. They must therefore have been more than 70 years old. The governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua were certainly not among this number, since they were both born in exile (see pp. 38ff. above). Whether Haggai himself was one of these old people does not emerge from his questions. The second and third of these questions show that he was reckoning with a small group of elderly eyewitnesses; otherwise these questions would be pointless. Ezra 3:12* seems to take up and develop Haggai’s first question: this report describes the elderly group as being composed of “priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house with their own eyes.” According to Ezra 3:10–13*, these people wept over the beginnings of the building work, whereas the younger ones were jubilant.

Haggai is moved by the question about the כבוד, the “glory,” of the old temple. Here he is not talking about the entry of “Yahweh’s glory” (cf. 1 Kings 8:11*; Exod. 40:34f.*; cf. Hag. 1:8* אכבד, “I will glorify myself”). Here כבוד simply means the splendor of the temple building, just as the word כבוד can be used for the “glory” of a tree (Ezek. 31:18*) or a forest (Isa. 10:18*), like the forests of Lebanon (Isa. 60:13*), or can mean the “magnificence” and “beauty” of a rich man’s house (Ps. 49:16f.*; cf. 2 Chron. 32:27*). If the present ruins—on which the work of a few weeks had made but little impression—were compared with the former glory of the temple, the result was deeply depressing—indeed, nothing at all. With הלא, “is not?” the questioner claims the attention of his listeners and reckons with assent. He refers to the observations of the old people themselves (“in your eyes”). A comparison follows with כְּ … כְּ; see textual note 3a. Targum Rashi translates: “It” (the temple) and “nothing” are alike (L. Tetzner, Rabbinische Kommentare, 30). Zechariah too (4:10*) knows all about the depressing assessment of “small beginnings.” Later the building of the walls is subjected to similar mockery: “Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish?” (Neh. 3:34*). Haggai knows the difficulty of every new start. The questions he puts show his sympathy. But he is aware of, and resists, the danger of letting the bleak and disconsolate findings of the elderly undermine the vigor and enthusiasm of the people who are working on the building.

[2:4*] With ועתה (“but now,” v. 4*), he confronts the “now” of the pitiable situation (v. 3*) with a new “now” of encouragement. Here ועתה positively acquires the flavor of an “in spite of that” or a “nonetheless.” In Isa. 64:7*, similarly, the phrase introduces an act of confidence, in defiance of an adverse situation (H. A. Brongers, VT 15 [1965] 295; cf. also earlier Hag. 1:5*; 2:15*). A triple divine saying justifies this “nonetheless” of encouragement (twice נאם־יהוה, “saying of Yahweh,” in 4aα*, γ* and a closing נאם־יהוה צבאות, “saying of Yahweh Sebaoth” in bβ*; see p. 100 below, excursus).

On the revision of the scene-sketch in v. 4*, see pp. 72f. above.

Here Zerubbabel is not addressed as “governor of Judah,” as if his authority were derived from the Persian king (cf. in contrast 1:1*, 14*; 2:2*). He is addressed simply by name (cf. 1:12*; 2:23*). As the man who listens to Yahweh’s voice (1:12a*) and as the person who, as Yahweh’s servant, enjoys his particular confidence (2:23*), he is responsible before all others for the enthusiasm of the temple building team. The high priest is only at his side in a secondary capacity. But the assurance is addressed above all to the assembled community, which has already been addressed in v. 3* (see p. 77 above).

Whom does Haggai mean with “the people of the land in their entirety”? The meaning of this expression apparently shifted in the course of history. In preexilic days, עם־הארץ (“the people of the land”) meant the upper class, citizens in the fullest sense—the people who were landowners and political leaders; cf. 2 Kings 11:14ff.*; 21:24*; 23:30* and E. Würthwein, Der ‘amm ha’arez im Alten Testament (1936) 53. In the postexilic period, on the other hand, Ezra 4:4* means by עם־הארץ the enemies of the עם־יהודה, “people of Judah,” or “the enemies of Judah and Benjamin” (4:1a*). This עם־הארץ (“people of the land”) is distinguished particularly from the בְּנֵי הַגּוֹלָה, “the sons of the gola” (4:1b*), who took up the building of the temple under Zerubbabel and Joshua and who here too are termed the “remnant” (שְׁאָר “remnant,” that is, of the heads of families, Ezra 4:3*). The people belonging to this עם־הארץ were descended from the non-Israelites who had been settled there by the king of Assyria after the fall of the Northern Kingdom (Ezra 4:2b*; cf. 2 Kings 17:24–41*). The people who are described here as the עם־הארץ would have liked to help build the temple, but they were rejected because they were for the most part of heathen origin (Ezra 4:2–3*). Haggai’s “people of the land” must have been somewhere between these two meanings of the phrase (see p. 73 above). According to Hag. 2:4*, we can certainly not exclude the returned exiles under Zerubbabel (and Joshua) from the group working on the temple, if we assume that 2:1* offers an explanation more or less in accordance with the facts. On the other hand, in the light of preexilic linguistic usage, we must suppose that old, established Judaeans from Jerusalem, Judah, and Benjamin were also included (cf. also Zech. 7:2*, 5*), perhaps even together with such descendants of 8th-century Assyrian settlers as “had joined them and separated [themselves] from the pollutions of the peoples of the land” (Ezra 6:21*). At all events, Haggai himself points beyond an all-too-narrow interpretation, when he emphatically addresses “the entirety” of the people of the land. Perhaps the language he uses is a sign that he himself belonged to a family which had been able to remain in the country in 587; cf. S. Amsler, CAT XIc (1981) 33; W. Rudolph, KAT XIII/4 (1976) 42; P. R. Ackroyd, Exile (1968) 162; R. A. Hulst, “גּוֹי/עַם, Volk,” THAT, II, ed. E. Jenni and C. Westermann (19843), 300f.

With his encouraging call, therefore, Haggai turns to the wider group of people concerned with the building of the temple—that is, to both homecomers and old, established Judaeans. חזק (imperative qal), “stand fast” or “be strong,” demands that they summon up all their strength and do not lose heart. Many speeches begin with this same call (2 Sam. 13:28*; Isa. 35:4*; Ps. 31:24*). It especially often introduces words of encouragement before the people go off to war (Deut. 31:6f.*; Josh. 10:25*; 2 Sam. 10:12*), particularly in Deuteronomic writings and the Chronicler (Josh. 1:9*; 2 Chron. 19:11*; 32:7*). Especially worth noting are the words of David to Solomon in Chronicles on the preparation of the temple ministry (1 Chron. 28:10*, 20*). Just as David once exhorted his son Solomon, so Haggai now buoys up all the people of the land (and Zerubbabel as well?). Both David and Haggai demand resolute action. The set phrase חזק ועשׂו (“Be strong and do it”) is not unusual, either in the singular or in the plural (1 Chron. 28:10*, 20*; Ezra 10:4* and frequently). Haggai’s encouragement wrests the people out of their depressive passivity and leads to the vigorous activity that is imperative for the work required. In hard fact, what is meant is simply the continuation of work on the temple. (The addition in 5aα* is different; cf. textual note 5a–a.)

[2:5*] Haggai knows that one’s own strength and energy is soon at an end. He therefore gives a double reason (כי, “because,” at the beginning of 4b* and 6a*) why the people should be resolute and persevering: in the first place, Yahweh’s promise of support (4b*, 5aβ*, b*), secondly, the promise of his worldwide intervening acts in the imminent future (6–9*).

First of all the prophet repeats Yahweh’s promise: “I am at your side.” This assurance was already given at the close of the first scene-sketch (1:13*). For the interpretation see p. 50 above. Now Haggai counters the אין (“nothing”) of the old people with Yahweh’s אני (“I”)—the despairing “nothingness” of things as they appear, over against the “I” of the God who is present among his people.

This assurance of support is common, in a number of linguistic variations, but it is given a particular exposition in 5aβ*. This exposition talks about Yahweh’s “Spirit,” in which his “I,” his self, becomes efficacious. In the Chronicler’s history—but even earlier as well, in Isa. 42:1*; 48:16*; 59:21*; Ezek. 11:5*—Yahweh’s “Spirit” is indissolubly and exclusively connected with the prophetic proclamation (cf. 2 Chron. 15:1*; 18:23*; 20:14*; 24:20*; Neh. 9:20*, 30*; also W. A. M. Beuken, Studien [1967] 57f.). רוח (“spirit”) as human will power (1:14*) can become the victim of dejection (2:3*); but Yahweh’s “Spirit” is animating vigor, strengthening presence, and encouraging authority; see pp. 52f. above). This “Spirit” is enduring and constant (on עמד, “stand,” “remain enduringly,” cf. Exod. 9:28*; 2 Kings 6:31*; Ps. 33:11*) and by way of the prophets its workings are felt in the midst of the community, as they are at present, through the prophet Haggai, who encourages the despondent; cf. the saying to Zerubbabel in Zech. 4:6*. So the lament of the people (touched on in v. 3*) can be followed by the classic saving cry: “Fear not!” (Lam. 3:57*), the cry which is so often linked with the assurance of help, as it is here (cf. for example Isa. 41:10*; 43:1f.*). The late addition 5aα* (see textual note 2:5a–a) elucidates the promise of the Spirit, and of support, with the word of the covenant (Torah?) given at the exodus from Egypt (cf. Jer. 31:31f.*).

[2:6f.*] Yahweh’s enduring support, then, is the first ground for encouragement, and it is considerably reinforced by a series of promises. The first of these is clearly marked off from the others by the introductory and closing messenger formula (6aα* and 7bβ* respectively). The messenger saying itself is dominated by Yahweh’s first person address (“I”: 6b*, 7aα.bα*). Only one result clause (7aβ*) intervenes in Yahweh’s own proclamation of what he is going to do. But it is just this clause that emphasizes the link between this saying and the main theme of the scene: the path from the pitiably small beginnings the people have experienced hitherto to the future glory of the temple (cf. 7bα* with 3* and 9a*).

[2:6*] The promise provides the reason for an imminent expectation. It is true that imminent expectation is almost the rule in prophecy, but here the “soon-ness” of the fulfillment is markedly emphasized by an unusual four-term formula; see textual note 6a–a and H. W. Wolff, BK XIV/1, 18 (Eng., Hosea [19864] 17). The briefness of the waiting time reduces the discontent (v. 3*), heightens the encouragement (v. 4a*), and lends further support to Yahweh’s promise of help (vv. 4b*, 5b*).

What is it that is supposed to happen so soon? Worry about the temple building is going to be swallowed up in a worldwide cataclysm. Yahweh himself proclaims what he is going to do. With רעשׁ hiphil (the causative form), he reports his immediately impending intervention. The word רעשׁ initially means “earthquake” (1 Kings 19:11f.*; Amos 1:1*; Zech. 14:5*; cf. the verbal use in Judg. 5:4*; Isa. 13:13*; Ps. 18:7*). רעשׁ qal, however, is not used only in reference to the earth. It soon comes to be applied to the heavens as well (Joel 2:10*; 3:16*; cf. Judg. 5:4*; Ps. 68:8*). This is the case primarily in the description of theophanies: heaven and earth tremble “before Yahweh.” For the reminiscence of themes connected with the holy war, see pp. 102f. below. When writers talk about the heavens quaking or trembling, they are thinking specifically of thunder and lightning, tempests and cloudbursts, as well as earthquakes and flood tides, as Ps. 77:16–18* shows. In Ezek. 38:20* the sea and everything in it, as well as the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the earth, all quake “at Yahweh’s presence” when there is “a great shaking in the land of Israel” (19b*). In Haggai, uniquely, “sea and dry land” are put beside “heaven and earth.” And here the “quaking” is no longer merely the effect of Yahweh’s coming. Yahweh himself is now the actual author of the cosmic cataclysm (רעשׁ hiphil 6b*, 7a*). Yahweh makes the world quake—that is, he “shakes” the cosmos. רעשׁ hiphil is a rare form and, when it occurs, almost always has as its object historical forces, not natural ones—that is, “the nations” (7aα*, as Ezek. 31:16*), “the kingdoms” (Isa. 14:16*), or “the (defeated) land of Israel” (Ps. 60:2*). Haggai says that Yahweh shakes “all nations,” just as he shakes the cosmic regions. Before Israel’s God, nature and history, the political world and the natural environment cannot be divided. He shakes the one with the other.

Yet, surprisingly, when Haggai proclaims that Yahweh is going to “shake” the world, this is not intended to be seen as something deranging, let alone as something that destroys. It is an upheaval that leads to salvation, to a new order, which will put aside many anxieties about the building of the temple. It is astonishing how universal the upheaval is, and how particular its goal. Tumultuous military campaigns on the part of the nations of the world turn into pilgrimages to Jerusalem. The uprising of all the nations, incited and carried through by Yahweh, is going to lead to the redistribution of “the treasures of all the nations”; see textual note 7a. What treasures are we supposed to think of? As well as the silver and gold of the following verse, we may remember other texts similar in content, such as Isa. 60:13* (which talks about costly woods, which come from Lebanon and are intended to grace the Jerusalem sanctuary) and Nah. 2:10* (silver and gold in the form of splendid appointments and vessels: כְּלִי הֶמְדָּה, “precious vessels”; cf. Hos. 13:15*). The “precious vessels” which Nebuchadnezzar carried off to Babylon were those belonging to the temple (2 Chron. 36:10*; cf. also Ezra 7:15f.*). Among the treasures owned by Hezekiah, 2 Chron. 32:27* mentions precious stones and spices, as well as gold and silver. According to Haggai, these precious things are to be brought from all the nations for one purpose only: the Jerusalem temple. It is Yahweh himself who is going to “fill this house” with such “glory.” Here as in 2:3* (see p. 77 above) כבוד means the magnificence and beauty which—when the processions from the nations arrive—will abolish all the grief and care that has prevailed hitherto; cf. Isa. 66:12* (כְּבוֹד גּוֹיִם, “splendor of the nations”).

In Haggai’s day, there was no lack of quite distinct ideas, whenever there was talk about revolutions in the world of the nations, or about costly gifts for the sanctuary in Jerusalem. The Persian kings Cyrus and Darius I intended that the expense of rebuilding the Jerusalem temple should be refunded from the royal treasury (Ezra 6:4*, 7f.*). According to Behistun §14, Darius, continuing Cyrus’s policy, wished “to rebuild the sanctuaries which Gaumâta, the magus, had destroyed; I gave back to the people the farmsteads, the cattle and the servants that Gaumâta had robbed them of.” The Darius texts also convey an idea of what could be termed a worldwide rebellion in Haggai’s day (see excursus, pp. 74–76 above). But Haggai calls upon neither Jerusalem nor Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, to rebel (cf. Bickerman’s view, p. 24, and p. 75 above). It is Yahweh, Israel’s God himself, who proclaims the great upheaval. God himself is going to fill the temple with “glory” in some marvelous way—a glory far beyond everything which the builders are now so painfully missing. In this context it is quite unimportant whether the reports about revolutionary unrest in the Persian empire are one year old or two. What Haggai is announcing is not intended to extend the list of recalcitrant “lying kings.” Darius’s purpose was to stabilize an empire inevitably limited in time. The glorious completion of the temple is a very different goal. Haggai’s purpose is also to encourage his people by setting before their eyes the acts of his God and by making them attentive to his word of promise. To reckon with the closeness of Yahweh’s all-comprehending power, and with his refashioning will, is the truly reasonable attitude; and it is this that brings real encouragement.

[2:8*] Yahweh’s power of disposal over all the treasures of the world is justified and impressed on the people’s minds in the briefest of declarations. “Silver and gold” are the quintessence of all material values (Hos. 2:8*; Ezek. 7:19*; Prov. 22:1*; Eccles. 2:8*). The repeated pronoun לי (“mine”) which introduces the two terse nominal clauses shows where the emphasis of the statement lies (see textual note 2:8a and cf. Ps. 24:1*). This “sentence of challenging rigor” proclaims above the nations Yahweh’s “sole right of possession” (G. von Rad, EvTh 8 [1948/49] 446 = Gesammelte Studien, 222). At the same time it strengthens the confidence of the disheartened. In this connection it must be stressed that what is being expressed here is not greed on Israel’s part, or some kind of Jewish egoism; it is the sovereign claim of Yahweh, who turns to his impoverished people in their necessity. He does not merely act in the spheres of spirituality and eschatology. He shows that he is also the Lord of all earthly possessions and all this-worldly values. This, surely, is what his people is supposed to remember, even in their pitiful and miserable circumstances (v. 3*)—or then most of all. The saying has all the impact of a tenet of faith.

[2:9a*] Thus Israel also learns to hope. For since Yahweh is the owner of everything that is of value, he has the power to change present conditions completely. The people should therefore compare the glory of Solomon’s temple, not merely with the present ruins, but with what Yahweh is going to bring about in the future. Haggai picks up Deutero-Isaiah’s comparison between the former (first) things and the future (last) things. But he does so in order to point, not to the correspondence between them (41:4*, 21f.*; 42:9*; 44:6*; 48:12*), but to the astonishing changes that are going to come about—the change to the new thing with which the future will transform everything that has hitherto existed (cf. Isa. 43:18f.*). Thus Yahweh’s rule over the nations and their treasures will help the temple to arrive at a beauty hitherto unknown, so that it will be glorious to look upon. The prophet does not shrink from talking only about the outward glory first of all (on כבוד “glory,” see p. 77 above); for he is vividly aware of the quite practical difficulties which are weighing so heavily on the people and making them despondent (cf. v. 3*). The prophet’s promise does not try to bypass or gloss over the troubles of the present, but counters them at precisely the point where they are to be found.

Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi: An Introduction and Commentary 2. October 520: Take Heart and Work (2:1–9)

OCTOBER 520: TAKE HEART AND WORK (2:1–9)

It was nearly a month after work started when Haggai was given a new word from the Lord. We can guess that during the intervening weeks efforts were concentrated on clearing the site of rubble, redressing stone that was fit for use, testing for safety the walls that still remained (for we know that even after bombing a surprising amount of a stone building may remain standing), and organizing teams of workmen for their particular tasks. Such preparations on a sixty-year-old ruin, without any mechanical aids, would tax the endurance of even the most enthusiastic; hence the need of encouragement. But there was another factor.

Progress would have been delayed during the seventh month by the major festivals on which no work would be allowed. In addition to sabbath rest days, the first day of the month was the Feast of Trumpets, and the tenth the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:23–32). Then on the fifteenth day the Feast of Booths began, when the whole population moved out of their homes to live in leafy shelters for a week in memory of the exodus wanderings. It was also an occasion of rejoicing in the harvest, through which, year by year, they proved God’s faithfulness to his promises (Lev. 23:33–36, 39–44; Deut. 16:13–15). It would be understandable if the enthusiastic, longing to see some evidence of progress, were impatient with holy days.

1, 2. As though to reassure such people Haggai delivered his second major sermon on the last ordinary day of the Feast of Booths. The twenty-second day of the month was a solemn rest-day (Lev. 23:39). Once again he was instructed to address Zerubbabel and Joshua, who are again given their full official titles, but this time the remnant of the people are included (cf. the commentary on 1:12).

3. The revered elders who remembered the temple before its destruction must often have spoken nostalgically of its splendour. Some of them no doubt took part in the abortive attempt to rebuild in 538 BC (Ezra 3:8–13). Past disappointment was making them gloomy about the present and future. The new temple would never be like the old; they had no resources to pay skilled craftsmen from abroad, as Solomon had done, and they could not begin to think of covering the interior with gold (1 Kgs 6:21, 22). In spite of the work they had already put in there was nothing to show for it. Unfavourable comparison between the present and the past undermined all incentive to persevere.

4, 5. Be strong (AV, RV; take courage, RSV) was the command repeated many times to the earlier Joshua (Deut. 31:7; Josh. 1:6, 7, 9, 18) and to Israel (Deut. 31:6; Josh. 10:25), as they went into the land for the first time. One of these passages might even have been the theme of the day’s meditations at the end of this week during which the events of the exodus had been commemorated (verse 5). There is an echo of Haggai’s oratory in the threefold command in verse 4. All you people of the land means here and in Zechariah 7:5 all the ordinary people as opposed to the leaders. Contrast this with the meaning of the phrase in Ezra 4:4, where it refers to the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin (verse 1).

There is a striking parallel between Haggai’s exhortation and the words of Jesus in Mark 6:50, ‘Take heart, it is I; have no fear.’ The personal presence of the Lord gives courage, determination, and the conviction that he will not permit his cause to fail. If the exile had seemed to annul the covenant, here was the sure word that, just as God had been present with his people during all the events of the exodus (Exod. 29:45), so he was with them still by his Spirit. My Spirit abides among you (abode among you, RV). Both translations are justified. The Hebrew participle, which denotes continuous action, includes both past and present within its meaning. God had been present even in apparent disaster, and he made his presence known the moment they repented.

Some commentators have considered verse 5a to be a gloss; indeed it is omitted from the text in NEB and JB, which follow LXX here. The Hebrew means ‘the matter which I covenanted with you when you went out of Egypt’, but it is not the usual idiom, and, moreover, the clause interrupts the sense, separating the parallel statements ‘I am with you’ and ‘My Spirit abides among you’. A scribe’s marginal reference to Exodus 29:45, 46 may have become incorporated into the text.

6, 7. The Lord proceeds to make his purpose more explicit. Once again, in a little while does not quite convey the meaning. The prophet is saying ‘Wait, just one little while’. The interval will not be long before the Lord begins to shake all creation. The verb is the Hiphil participle, which conveys that the Lord will cause a series of shakings. Earthquake had early become a symbol for God’s supernatural intervention, especially after the severe one in the eighth century, by which the prophecy of Amos is dated (Amos 1:1), and from which he found imagery for his message (8:8; 9:15). Isaiah took it up (Isa. 2:13–21; 13:13; 29:6), as did Joel (3:16) and Ezekiel (38:20). Earthquakes come without warning and there is no escaping their terrors. Haggai foresees the whole universe in such a series of convulsions that every nation will gladly part with its treasures. These will be brought to add beauty upon beauty to the temple until it is filled with splendour. Unspectacular service in a time of financial stringency played its part in God’s final purpose (cf. Isa. 60:5–22). He was never short of funds.

And the desire of all nations shall come (AV). This familiar translation with its messianic expectations has rightly been abandoned in the more recent translations. The reason is that, whereas the Vulgate (and hence AV) has a singular subject, the Hebrew verb is plural and requires a plural subject: the treasures (desirable things, RV) of all nations shall come in. Thus the Gentiles are seen to have a part to play in the achievement of God’s purposes by bringing their wealth in homage to him.

8. In the days of Solomon gold had been so plentiful that silver counted for little (1 Kgs 10:21). By the sixth century it was the Persians who had inherited the world’s wealth, but they too would pass it on eventually, and the ultimate owner was the One who made it, the Lord of hosts. Since he owned it he was well able to transfer it as and when he willed. A demonstration of this occurred about this time. Opponents who hoped to bring the building to a halt were ordered to pay in full the cost of the temple from the royal revenue in their own taxation district (Ezra 6:8–12). This financial provision probably arrived just after Haggai’s daring claim that their God owned all wealth and would meet their need. Later Herod the Great and his successors were to lavish wealth on the temple. Parts of this structure still remain, identifiable by the huge, smooth stones used. Its pinnacles glistened with gold to greet One who was ‘greater than the temple’.

9. The latter splendour of this house shall be greater than the former was literally true under the Herods (Mark 13:1), but chiefly because the Lord of the temple came (Matt. 12:6) and superseded it (John 2:13–22). And in this place (māqôm) will I give peace (šālôm) (AV, RV). Since the name Jerusalem probably means ‘city of peace’, the prophet is making a play on the word, and at the same time connecting it by assonance to māqôm, place, a word which in certain contexts has a cultic meaning (e.g. Deut. 12:5, 14; 14:23, etc.; Neh. 1:9; Jer. 17:12; Ezek. 43:7). Šālôm (still used as a greeting ‘may you have peace’) sums up all the blessings of the messianic age, when reconciliation with God and his righteous rule will ensure a just and lasting peace. The temple was the source from which all blessing would flow (Ezek. 47:1) to make Jerusalem the centre of the world’s well-being, the ‘city of peace’. Since salvation in the end-days was so involved with the temple, its rebuilding could not possibly be neglected.

Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi: An Introduction and Commentary 2. October 520: Take Heart and Work (2:1–9)

OCTOBER 520: TAKE HEART AND WORK (2:1–9)

It was nearly a month after work started when Haggai was given a new word from the Lord. We can guess that during the intervening weeks efforts were concentrated on clearing the site of rubble, redressing stone that was fit for use, testing for safety the walls that still remained (for we know that even after bombing a surprising amount of a stone building may remain standing), and organizing teams of workmen for their particular tasks. Such preparations on a sixty-year-old ruin, without any mechanical aids, would tax the endurance of even the most enthusiastic; hence the need of encouragement. But there was another factor.

Progress would have been delayed during the seventh month by the major festivals on which no work would be allowed. In addition to sabbath rest days, the first day of the month was the Feast of Trumpets, and the tenth the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:23–32). Then on the fifteenth day the Feast of Booths began, when the whole population moved out of their homes to live in leafy shelters for a week in memory of the exodus wanderings. It was also an occasion of rejoicing in the harvest, through which, year by year, they proved God’s faithfulness to his promises (Lev. 23:33–36, 39–44; Deut. 16:13–15). It would be understandable if the enthusiastic, longing to see some evidence of progress, were impatient with holy days.

1, 2. As though to reassure such people Haggai delivered his second major sermon on the last ordinary day of the Feast of Booths. The twenty-second day of the month was a solemn rest-day (Lev. 23:39). Once again he was instructed to address Zerubbabel and Joshua, who are again given their full official titles, but this time the remnant of the people are included (cf. the commentary on 1:12).

3. The revered elders who remembered the temple before its destruction must often have spoken nostalgically of its splendour. Some of them no doubt took part in the abortive attempt to rebuild in 538 BC (Ezra 3:8–13). Past disappointment was making them gloomy about the present and future. The new temple would never be like the old; they had no resources to pay skilled craftsmen from abroad, as Solomon had done, and they could not begin to think of covering the interior with gold (1 Kgs 6:21, 22). In spite of the work they had already put in there was nothing to show for it. Unfavourable comparison between the present and the past undermined all incentive to persevere.

4, 5. Be strong (AV, RV; take courage, RSV) was the command repeated many times to the earlier Joshua (Deut. 31:7; Josh. 1:6, 7, 9, 18) and to Israel (Deut. 31:6; Josh. 10:25), as they went into the land for the first time. One of these passages might even have been the theme of the day’s meditations at the end of this week during which the events of the exodus had been commemorated (verse 5). There is an echo of Haggai’s oratory in the threefold command in verse 4. All you people of the land means here and in Zechariah 7:5 all the ordinary people as opposed to the leaders. Contrast this with the meaning of the phrase in Ezra 4:4, where it refers to the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin (verse 1).

There is a striking parallel between Haggai’s exhortation and the words of Jesus in Mark 6:50, ‘Take heart, it is I; have no fear.’ The personal presence of the Lord gives courage, determination, and the conviction that he will not permit his cause to fail. If the exile had seemed to annul the covenant, here was the sure word that, just as God had been present with his people during all the events of the exodus (Exod. 29:45), so he was with them still by his Spirit. My Spirit abides among you (abode among you, RV). Both translations are justified. The Hebrew participle, which denotes continuous action, includes both past and present within its meaning. God had been present even in apparent disaster, and he made his presence known the moment they repented.

Some commentators have considered verse 5a to be a gloss; indeed it is omitted from the text in NEB and JB, which follow LXX here. The Hebrew means ‘the matter which I covenanted with you when you went out of Egypt’, but it is not the usual idiom, and, moreover, the clause interrupts the sense, separating the parallel statements ‘I am with you’ and ‘My Spirit abides among you’. A scribe’s marginal reference to Exodus 29:45, 46 may have become incorporated into the text.

6, 7. The Lord proceeds to make his purpose more explicit. Once again, in a little while does not quite convey the meaning. The prophet is saying ‘Wait, just one little while’. The interval will not be long before the Lord begins to shake all creation. The verb is the Hiphil participle, which conveys that the Lord will cause a series of shakings. Earthquake had early become a symbol for God’s supernatural intervention, especially after the severe one in the eighth century, by which the prophecy of Amos is dated (Amos 1:1), and from which he found imagery for his message (8:8; 9:15). Isaiah took it up (Isa. 2:13–21; 13:13; 29:6), as did Joel (3:16) and Ezekiel (38:20). Earthquakes come without warning and there is no escaping their terrors. Haggai foresees the whole universe in such a series of convulsions that every nation will gladly part with its treasures. These will be brought to add beauty upon beauty to the temple until it is filled with splendour. Unspectacular service in a time of financial stringency played its part in God’s final purpose (cf. Isa. 60:5–22). He was never short of funds.

And the desire of all nations shall come (AV). This familiar translation with its messianic expectations has rightly been abandoned in the more recent translations. The reason is that, whereas the Vulgate (and hence AV) has a singular subject, the Hebrew verb is plural and requires a plural subject: the treasures (desirable things, RV) of all nations shall come in. Thus the Gentiles are seen to have a part to play in the achievement of God’s purposes by bringing their wealth in homage to him.

8. In the days of Solomon gold had been so plentiful that silver counted for little (1 Kgs 10:21). By the sixth century it was the Persians who had inherited the world’s wealth, but they too would pass it on eventually, and the ultimate owner was the One who made it, the Lord of hosts. Since he owned it he was well able to transfer it as and when he willed. A demonstration of this occurred about this time. Opponents who hoped to bring the building to a halt were ordered to pay in full the cost of the temple from the royal revenue in their own taxation district (Ezra 6:8–12). This financial provision probably arrived just after Haggai’s daring claim that their God owned all wealth and would meet their need. Later Herod the Great and his successors were to lavish wealth on the temple. Parts of this structure still remain, identifiable by the huge, smooth stones used. Its pinnacles glistened with gold to greet One who was ‘greater than the temple’.

9. The latter splendour of this house shall be greater than the former was literally true under the Herods (Mark 13:1), but chiefly because the Lord of the temple came (Matt. 12:6) and superseded it (John 2:13–22). And in this place (māqôm) will I give peace (šālôm) (AV, RV). Since the name Jerusalem probably means ‘city of peace’, the prophet is making a play on the word, and at the same time connecting it by assonance to māqôm, place, a word which in certain contexts has a cultic meaning (e.g. Deut. 12:5, 14; 14:23, etc.; Neh. 1:9; Jer. 17:12; Ezek. 43:7). Šālôm (still used as a greeting ‘may you have peace’) sums up all the blessings of the messianic age, when reconciliation with God and his righteous rule will ensure a just and lasting peace. The temple was the source from which all blessing would flow (Ezek. 47:1) to make Jerusalem the centre of the world’s well-being, the ‘city of peace’. Since salvation in the end-days was so involved with the temple, its rebuilding could not possibly be neglected.

Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi: An Introduction and Commentary 2. October 520: Take Heart and Work (2:1–9)

OCTOBER 520: TAKE HEART AND WORK (2:1–9)

It was nearly a month after work started when Haggai was given a new word from the Lord. We can guess that during the intervening weeks efforts were concentrated on clearing the site of rubble, redressing stone that was fit for use, testing for safety the walls that still remained (for we know that even after bombing a surprising amount of a stone building may remain standing), and organizing teams of workmen for their particular tasks. Such preparations on a sixty-year-old ruin, without any mechanical aids, would tax the endurance of even the most enthusiastic; hence the need of encouragement. But there was another factor.

Progress would have been delayed during the seventh month by the major festivals on which no work would be allowed. In addition to sabbath rest days, the first day of the month was the Feast of Trumpets, and the tenth the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:23–32). Then on the fifteenth day the Feast of Booths began, when the whole population moved out of their homes to live in leafy shelters for a week in memory of the exodus wanderings. It was also an occasion of rejoicing in the harvest, through which, year by year, they proved God’s faithfulness to his promises (Lev. 23:33–36, 39–44; Deut. 16:13–15). It would be understandable if the enthusiastic, longing to see some evidence of progress, were impatient with holy days.

1, 2. As though to reassure such people Haggai delivered his second major sermon on the last ordinary day of the Feast of Booths. The twenty-second day of the month was a solemn rest-day (Lev. 23:39). Once again he was instructed to address Zerubbabel and Joshua, who are again given their full official titles, but this time the remnant of the people are included (cf. the commentary on 1:12).

3. The revered elders who remembered the temple before its destruction must often have spoken nostalgically of its splendour. Some of them no doubt took part in the abortive attempt to rebuild in 538 BC (Ezra 3:8–13). Past disappointment was making them gloomy about the present and future. The new temple would never be like the old; they had no resources to pay skilled craftsmen from abroad, as Solomon had done, and they could not begin to think of covering the interior with gold (1 Kgs 6:21, 22). In spite of the work they had already put in there was nothing to show for it. Unfavourable comparison between the present and the past undermined all incentive to persevere.

4, 5. Be strong (AV, RV; take courage, RSV) was the command repeated many times to the earlier Joshua (Deut. 31:7; Josh. 1:6, 7, 9, 18) and to Israel (Deut. 31:6; Josh. 10:25), as they went into the land for the first time. One of these passages might even have been the theme of the day’s meditations at the end of this week during which the events of the exodus had been commemorated (verse 5). There is an echo of Haggai’s oratory in the threefold command in verse 4. All you people of the land means here and in Zechariah 7:5 all the ordinary people as opposed to the leaders. Contrast this with the meaning of the phrase in Ezra 4:4, where it refers to the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin (verse 1).

There is a striking parallel between Haggai’s exhortation and the words of Jesus in Mark 6:50, ‘Take heart, it is I; have no fear.’ The personal presence of the Lord gives courage, determination, and the conviction that he will not permit his cause to fail. If the exile had seemed to annul the covenant, here was the sure word that, just as God had been present with his people during all the events of the exodus (Exod. 29:45), so he was with them still by his Spirit. My Spirit abides among you (abode among you, RV). Both translations are justified. The Hebrew participle, which denotes continuous action, includes both past and present within its meaning. God had been present even in apparent disaster, and he made his presence known the moment they repented.

Some commentators have considered verse 5a to be a gloss; indeed it is omitted from the text in NEB and JB, which follow LXX here. The Hebrew means ‘the matter which I covenanted with you when you went out of Egypt’, but it is not the usual idiom, and, moreover, the clause interrupts the sense, separating the parallel statements ‘I am with you’ and ‘My Spirit abides among you’. A scribe’s marginal reference to Exodus 29:45, 46 may have become incorporated into the text.

6, 7. The Lord proceeds to make his purpose more explicit. Once again, in a little while does not quite convey the meaning. The prophet is saying ‘Wait, just one little while’. The interval will not be long before the Lord begins to shake all creation. The verb is the Hiphil participle, which conveys that the Lord will cause a series of shakings. Earthquake had early become a symbol for God’s supernatural intervention, especially after the severe one in the eighth century, by which the prophecy of Amos is dated (Amos 1:1), and from which he found imagery for his message (8:8; 9:15). Isaiah took it up (Isa. 2:13–21; 13:13; 29:6), as did Joel (3:16) and Ezekiel (38:20). Earthquakes come without warning and there is no escaping their terrors. Haggai foresees the whole universe in such a series of convulsions that every nation will gladly part with its treasures. These will be brought to add beauty upon beauty to the temple until it is filled with splendour. Unspectacular service in a time of financial stringency played its part in God’s final purpose (cf. Isa. 60:5–22). He was never short of funds.

And the desire of all nations shall come (AV). This familiar translation with its messianic expectations has rightly been abandoned in the more recent translations. The reason is that, whereas the Vulgate (and hence AV) has a singular subject, the Hebrew verb is plural and requires a plural subject: the treasures (desirable things, RV) of all nations shall come in. Thus the Gentiles are seen to have a part to play in the achievement of God’s purposes by bringing their wealth in homage to him.

8. In the days of Solomon gold had been so plentiful that silver counted for little (1 Kgs 10:21). By the sixth century it was the Persians who had inherited the world’s wealth, but they too would pass it on eventually, and the ultimate owner was the One who made it, the Lord of hosts. Since he owned it he was well able to transfer it as and when he willed. A demonstration of this occurred about this time. Opponents who hoped to bring the building to a halt were ordered to pay in full the cost of the temple from the royal revenue in their own taxation district (Ezra 6:8–12). This financial provision probably arrived just after Haggai’s daring claim that their God owned all wealth and would meet their need. Later Herod the Great and his successors were to lavish wealth on the temple. Parts of this structure still remain, identifiable by the huge, smooth stones used. Its pinnacles glistened with gold to greet One who was ‘greater than the temple’.

9. The latter splendour of this house shall be greater than the former was literally true under the Herods (Mark 13:1), but chiefly because the Lord of the temple came (Matt. 12:6) and superseded it (John 2:13–22). And in this place (māqôm) will I give peace (šālôm) (AV, RV). Since the name Jerusalem probably means ‘city of peace’, the prophet is making a play on the word, and at the same time connecting it by assonance to māqôm, place, a word which in certain contexts has a cultic meaning (e.g. Deut. 12:5, 14; 14:23, etc.; Neh. 1:9; Jer. 17:12; Ezek. 43:7). Šālôm (still used as a greeting ‘may you have peace’) sums up all the blessings of the messianic age, when reconciliation with God and his righteous rule will ensure a just and lasting peace. The temple was the source from which all blessing would flow (Ezek. 47:1) to make Jerusalem the centre of the world’s well-being, the ‘city of peace’. Since salvation in the end-days was so involved with the temple, its rebuilding could not possibly be neglected.

Old Testament XIV: The Twelve Prophets 2:8 Silver and Gold Belong to God

2:8 Silver and Gold Belong to God

SUN WORSHIP OF MANICHAEANS CONDEMNED. AUGUSTINE: But this is not the fault of gold and silver. Let us suppose that someone of tender heart has found a treasure. The kindness of his heart works, does it not, so that hospitality is shown to strangers, the starving are fed, the naked clothed, the needy assisted, captives redeemed, churches are built, the weary are refreshed, the quarrelsome pacified, the shipwrecked set on their feet again, the sick cured—material resources distributed on earth, spiritual ones stored up in heaven? Who does all this? The good and kindhearted person. What does he do it with? Gold and silver. Whom is he serving when he does it? The one who says, “Mine is the gold and mine is the silver.” Now, brothers, I think you can see what a great mistake it is, what lunacy indeed, to project onto the things which people misuse the offense of the people who misuse them. If gold and silver, after all, can be blamed simply because people warped by avarice and neglecting the commands of the Creator are carried away by an abominable kind of lust for these things that he brought into being, then let us blame every single creature of God, because, as the apostle says, some perverse people “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.” Let us also blame this sun, which these same Manichaeans, as we all know, not understanding that it is a creature, never cease to worship and adore as though it were the Creator—or at least some sort of part of him. SERMON 50.7.

MONEY ITSELF IS NOT EVIL. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM: Riches, gold and silver, are not the devil’s as some think, for “the whole world of riches is for the faithful man, but for the unfaithful not a farthing.” But nothing is more faithless than the devil. God through the prophet says plainly, “Mine is the silver, and mine is the gold.” Only use it well and there is nothing blameworthy in silver; but when you abuse a good thing and are then unwilling to blame your own conduct, you impiously put the blame on the Creator. One can even be blessed by money. “I was hungry, and you gave me to eat”4—undoubtedly by the use of money; “I was naked and you covered me”—assuredly by the use of money. Consider too that money can be a door to the heavenly kingdom. “Sell,” he says, “what you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven.”6 CATECHETICAL LECTURE 8.6.

THE TESTAMENTS CONTRASTED. AUGUSTINE: Surely the glory of the house of the New Testament is greater than that of the old because it was built of better materials, namely, those living stones that are human beings renewed by faith and grace. Yet precisely because Solomon’s temple was renovated—was made new—it was a prophetic symbol of the second Testament which is called the New. Accordingly we must understand the words God spoke by Haggai’s mouth, “And I will give peace in that place,” as referring to the place for which the temple stood. Since the restored temple signified the church, which Christ was to build, those words can mean only “I will give peace in that place [the church] which this place [the rebuilt temple] prefigures.” (All symbols seem in some way to personify the realities of which they are symbols. So, St. Paul says, “The rock was Christ,” because the rock in question symbolized Christ.) Not, however, until the house of the New Testament receives its final consecration will its greater glory in relation to the house of the Old Testament be made perfectly clear. This will take place at the second coming of him whom the Hebrew text calls “the desire of all nations.”9 Obviously his first coming was not desired of all nations, for unbelievers did not even know whom they should desire to come. In the end too, as the Septuagint puts it with equal amount of prophetic meaning, “the chosen of the Lord shall come from all nations.” Then, truly, only the chosen shall come, those of whom St. Paul says, even “as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” CITY OF GOD 18.48.

Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi: An Introduction and Commentary 2. October 520: Take Heart and Work (2:1–9)

OCTOBER 520: TAKE HEART AND WORK (2:1–9)

It was nearly a month after work started when Haggai was given a new word from the Lord. We can guess that during the intervening weeks efforts were concentrated on clearing the site of rubble, redressing stone that was fit for use, testing for safety the walls that still remained (for we know that even after bombing a surprising amount of a stone building may remain standing), and organizing teams of workmen for their particular tasks. Such preparations on a sixty-year-old ruin, without any mechanical aids, would tax the endurance of even the most enthusiastic; hence the need of encouragement. But there was another factor.

Progress would have been delayed during the seventh month by the major festivals on which no work would be allowed. In addition to sabbath rest days, the first day of the month was the Feast of Trumpets, and the tenth the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:23–32). Then on the fifteenth day the Feast of Booths began, when the whole population moved out of their homes to live in leafy shelters for a week in memory of the exodus wanderings. It was also an occasion of rejoicing in the harvest, through which, year by year, they proved God’s faithfulness to his promises (Lev. 23:33–36, 39–44; Deut. 16:13–15). It would be understandable if the enthusiastic, longing to see some evidence of progress, were impatient with holy days.

1, 2. As though to reassure such people Haggai delivered his second major sermon on the last ordinary day of the Feast of Booths. The twenty-second day of the month was a solemn rest-day (Lev. 23:39). Once again he was instructed to address Zerubbabel and Joshua, who are again given their full official titles, but this time the remnant of the people are included (cf. the commentary on 1:12).

3. The revered elders who remembered the temple before its destruction must often have spoken nostalgically of its splendour. Some of them no doubt took part in the abortive attempt to rebuild in 538 BC (Ezra 3:8–13). Past disappointment was making them gloomy about the present and future. The new temple would never be like the old; they had no resources to pay skilled craftsmen from abroad, as Solomon had done, and they could not begin to think of covering the interior with gold (1 Kgs 6:21, 22). In spite of the work they had already put in there was nothing to show for it. Unfavourable comparison between the present and the past undermined all incentive to persevere.

4, 5. Be strong (AV, RV; take courage, RSV) was the command repeated many times to the earlier Joshua (Deut. 31:7; Josh. 1:6, 7, 9, 18) and to Israel (Deut. 31:6; Josh. 10:25), as they went into the land for the first time. One of these passages might even have been the theme of the day’s meditations at the end of this week during which the events of the exodus had been commemorated (verse 5). There is an echo of Haggai’s oratory in the threefold command in verse 4. All you people of the land means here and in Zechariah 7:5 all the ordinary people as opposed to the leaders. Contrast this with the meaning of the phrase in Ezra 4:4, where it refers to the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin (verse 1).

There is a striking parallel between Haggai’s exhortation and the words of Jesus in Mark 6:50, ‘Take heart, it is I; have no fear.’ The personal presence of the Lord gives courage, determination, and the conviction that he will not permit his cause to fail. If the exile had seemed to annul the covenant, here was the sure word that, just as God had been present with his people during all the events of the exodus (Exod. 29:45), so he was with them still by his Spirit. My Spirit abides among you (abode among you, RV). Both translations are justified. The Hebrew participle, which denotes continuous action, includes both past and present within its meaning. God had been present even in apparent disaster, and he made his presence known the moment they repented.

Some commentators have considered verse 5a to be a gloss; indeed it is omitted from the text in NEB and JB, which follow LXX here. The Hebrew means ‘the matter which I covenanted with you when you went out of Egypt’, but it is not the usual idiom, and, moreover, the clause interrupts the sense, separating the parallel statements ‘I am with you’ and ‘My Spirit abides among you’. A scribe’s marginal reference to Exodus 29:45, 46 may have become incorporated into the text.

6, 7. The Lord proceeds to make his purpose more explicit. Once again, in a little while does not quite convey the meaning. The prophet is saying ‘Wait, just one little while’. The interval will not be long before the Lord begins to shake all creation. The verb is the Hiphil participle, which conveys that the Lord will cause a series of shakings. Earthquake had early become a symbol for God’s supernatural intervention, especially after the severe one in the eighth century, by which the prophecy of Amos is dated (Amos 1:1), and from which he found imagery for his message (8:8; 9:15). Isaiah took it up (Isa. 2:13–21; 13:13; 29:6), as did Joel (3:16) and Ezekiel (38:20). Earthquakes come without warning and there is no escaping their terrors. Haggai foresees the whole universe in such a series of convulsions that every nation will gladly part with its treasures. These will be brought to add beauty upon beauty to the temple until it is filled with splendour. Unspectacular service in a time of financial stringency played its part in God’s final purpose (cf. Isa. 60:5–22). He was never short of funds.

And the desire of all nations shall come (AV). This familiar translation with its messianic expectations has rightly been abandoned in the more recent translations. The reason is that, whereas the Vulgate (and hence AV) has a singular subject, the Hebrew verb is plural and requires a plural subject: the treasures (desirable things, RV) of all nations shall come in. Thus the Gentiles are seen to have a part to play in the achievement of God’s purposes by bringing their wealth in homage to him.

8. In the days of Solomon gold had been so plentiful that silver counted for little (1 Kgs 10:21). By the sixth century it was the Persians who had inherited the world’s wealth, but they too would pass it on eventually, and the ultimate owner was the One who made it, the Lord of hosts. Since he owned it he was well able to transfer it as and when he willed. A demonstration of this occurred about this time. Opponents who hoped to bring the building to a halt were ordered to pay in full the cost of the temple from the royal revenue in their own taxation district (Ezra 6:8–12). This financial provision probably arrived just after Haggai’s daring claim that their God owned all wealth and would meet their need. Later Herod the Great and his successors were to lavish wealth on the temple. Parts of this structure still remain, identifiable by the huge, smooth stones used. Its pinnacles glistened with gold to greet One who was ‘greater than the temple’.

9. The latter splendour of this house shall be greater than the former was literally true under the Herods (Mark 13:1), but chiefly because the Lord of the temple came (Matt. 12:6) and superseded it (John 2:13–22). And in this place (māqôm) will I give peace (šālôm) (AV, RV). Since the name Jerusalem probably means ‘city of peace’, the prophet is making a play on the word, and at the same time connecting it by assonance to māqôm, place, a word which in certain contexts has a cultic meaning (e.g. Deut. 12:5, 14; 14:23, etc.; Neh. 1:9; Jer. 17:12; Ezek. 43:7). Šālôm (still used as a greeting ‘may you have peace’) sums up all the blessings of the messianic age, when reconciliation with God and his righteous rule will ensure a just and lasting peace. The temple was the source from which all blessing would flow (Ezek. 47:1) to make Jerusalem the centre of the world’s well-being, the ‘city of peace’. Since salvation in the end-days was so involved with the temple, its rebuilding could not possibly be neglected.

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