Chapter 37



The desire of all nations shall come.


Haggai was an exemplary prophet. His name means, “festive” or “festival of the Lord.” He was sent of God, along with Zechariah and Malachi, to minister to his people after they returned from the 70 years of Babylonian captivity. As I said, Haggai was exemplary as a prophet of God. He spent no time at all talking about himself. He came as God’s messenger to his people. His singular authority was, “Thus saith the Lord.” His singular desire was the glory of God. The objects of his care were the people of God. He had to rebuke; but his rebuke was full of encouragement. He had to correct; but his correction was full of comfort. He was distinctively sent of God to stir up his people, to rouse their hearts, to inspire in them devotion and consecration to their God, his glory, and his worship.


The Background


The Jews had been captives in Babylon for 70 years, just as Jeremiah had prophesied. What a sad time those seventy years of exile and bondage were for those among the Jews who truly worshipped God. They missed the assembly of God’s saints in his house. While in Babylon, they hung their harps upon willows and said, “How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” (Ps. 137:1-4).


After the 70 years were fulfilled, Daniel, who prophesied in Babylon, tells us that God graciously delivered his people from Babylon and began bringing them back into their land. They came first under Zerubbabel, who is mentioned in the opening verse of Haggai. Zerubbabel was the captain of the remnant that came back from Babylon. He was appointed Governor of Judah. When they came to Jerusalem, they found the city in ruins. The walls were broken down and the temple was utterly destroyed.


The Lord sent them back specifically to rebuild the temple, to rebuild the city, and to re-establish true worship, the worship of God in the land. They began the work immediately. The first order of business was to rebuild the temple, the house of God, in Jerusalem.


At this time, they were still under Babylonian rule. But God had given them favor with the king and they were granted permission to do the work. So they started working. Imagine the enthusiasm with which they must have commenced their work. Soon, the foundation of the temple was laid. It was much smaller than the original temple Solomon had built; but the work went rapidly. In a short time, they had a row or two of stones laid on the foundation. But something happened. They quit working. These Jews who had returned with Ezra, some 50,000 of them, specifically to build the house of God, just quit. They did nothing for more than fifteen years. This is where Haggai comes in. He was sent of God, along with Zechariah and Malachi, to speak for God to his people (Ezra 5:1-2).


Four Messages


Haggai delivered four messages to Judah. These four messages are specifically dated by him. They cover a period of about eighteen months. But everything Haggai says in these four messages is written for our learning and admonition today (Rom. 15:4). His messages call for us to “consider” some things.


      He uses that word, “consider,” four times. In Haggai 1:5 he says, “Consider your ways,” telling Judah and us to give serious thought to the way we live. In verse 7 he repeats that admonition, “Consider your ways.” But here he is calling for us to seriously think about our present circumstances in the providence of God, showing clearly that there is a connection between the way we live in reference to God and the things we experience in the providence of God. Then, in chapter 2 (v. 15) the prophet calls for us to consider the house of God (the worship of God) in connection with the great barrenness we have experienced. In verse 18 of chapter 2 he again calls for us to consider the house of God (the worship of God), and the blessedness he promises in connection with it.


      Let’s look at Haggai’s messages to us as they are given in these two chapters, praying that God the Holy Spirit will inscribe upon our hearts the lessons he here teaches us.




Haggai’s first message (1:1-15) is a stern word of rebuke regarding indifference to the things of God. The house of God had been left in ruins for 15 years. Of course, the people had a very good, theologically sound reason for doing nothing. The 70 years Jeremiah had spoken of were not quite finished. The predestined date of deliverance and restoration had not yet come, and some of the Jews were still in Babylon. These fine men did not want to interfere with the sovereign purpose of God. I am not stretching things. This is exactly what they said. ― “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built” (Hag 1:2).


Being the faithful prophet he was, Haggai was not about to let them off the hook. Instead of saying, “Oh, I understand that. I had not thought of that. I see what you’re saying; and we certainly do not want anyone to think we are a bunch of Arminians.” No. Haggai sticks his finger right on the sore spot and pushes hard. ― "Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?" (v. 4).


In other words, the prophet says, “The real problem here is not that you are waiting on the Lord; but that you have other things that are of such consuming concern to you that you are indifferent to the things of God. Your love of the world has made you lukewarm toward Christ.”


He appeals to our sense of shame. God's house was in ruins,while they lived in comfortable homes. They had shamefully neglected the house of the Lord. Our Master addresses this very issue in Matthew 6:33. We ought to blush with shame any time we allow ourselves to be so influenced by concern for earthly, material things, even for what we think are necessary things, that that concern takes priority over the things of God (1 Cor. 6:19-20).


Now, let us learn the lesson. ― It is impossible to ignore Christ and the interests of his kingdom and glory, it is impossible to live in indifference to the things of God and prosper. We will suffer the consequences of such behavior. Ask Bro. Jonah. The Jews sowed much and reaped little, though they looked for and expected much. They ate, but they were not filled. They drank, but they were not satisfied. They put on clothes, but they were not warm. They received wages for their labor, but they had holes in their pockets. They gathered wood, but God's breath of judgment was upon everything. Everything they did came to nothing, because they were serving themselves, not God (1:6, 11). They made God, his worship, and his glory secondary to their own pleasure, comfort, and earthly concerns. Haggai’s message had its desired effect, and the house of God was built (1:14).




A month later, the work stopped again. So Haggai steps up to deliver his second message (2:1-9). The people had worked hard on the temple and finished it. But the restored temple appeared to be nothing compared to the great edifice Solomon built. Some of the people remembered the former temple, and wept (Ezra 3:12). They said, “This is nice, but it is not nearly as great and glorious as Solomon’s temple.” They compared the present to the past, and said to themselves, “We cannot reproduce what our fathers did, so let’s just do nothing. ― “Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?” (2:3). Haggai had a four-part message from God for the complainers:


1.      The Lord said, “I am with you” (v.4).

2.      Next, the Lord graciously assures his people of his continued presence, because of his steadfast covenant (v.5).

3.      Then the prophet spoke of greater things than their natural eyes could see, promising the coming of Christ and the glory that would fill his house (vv. 6-7, 9).


“For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts…The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.”


Certainly, this prophecy was, in measure, fulfilled when Christ came into the temple at Jerusalem as an infant. He who is the embodiment of the very glory of God was brought into the temple at Jerusalem. But the ultimate fulfillment referred not to the physical temple or to our Savior’s physical appearance in it, but to the church and temple of God that that temple represented and to the presence and glory of the Lord in it. The glory spoken of here is the glory that shall be revealed and shall be ours in the last day, when we are made partakers of his glory. The Holy Spirit makes this clear in Hebrews 12:25-29.


“See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.”


In verse 28 the apostle declares that we are presently receiving this kingdom and glory of which Haggai spoke.


Christ is the Desire of all nations. ― He is that One who alone is the embodiment of all those things every human heart desires (Gen. 49:10; Mal. 3:1). It is only in Christ (crucified, raised from the dead, ascended into heaven, and accepted) that sinners find righteousness with God, forgiveness of all sin, and that peace of conscience that flows from a well-grounded assurance of eternal life.


Let us never despise the day of small things. ― The Lord our God has promised that our labor is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58). We can never measure, by carnal means, the success of our labors in the kingdom of our God, and should never try to do so. We should never pine for former days, as if they were more desirable for us than the present. The day in which we live and serve our God and Savior is the very best day for us to do so. We ought to say regarding the day in which the Lord has placed us, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24).


We cannot do what others do, and are not responsible to do what they do. We cannot do what our forefathers did, and are not responsible for that. We can and must do what the Lord our God has given us the means and opportunity to do; and for that we are responsible. As we put our hands to the work, our God will both sustain us in it and enable us to accomplish it.


This fact ought to cheer the hearts of all those men who labor for Christ in obscure places with little apparent success, and those small assemblies of God’s saints scattered across the globe who are scorned by the world as meaningless and insignificant. No child of God and no assembly of God’s saints, faithfully doing what they can for Christ, ever has reason for discouragement. If, like that redeemed sinner described in Mark 14, we do what we can for him, like her, we shall be honored by him.


4.      In verse 8 the Lord God assures us that he has in his hand everything we need to do what he would have us to do. ― “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.”


Our God owns all things, and rules all things. He is both the Possessor of all things and the omnipotent “Lord of hosts,” the Ruler of all things. If only we (both individual believers and local churches) used what the Lord God has put in our hands as stewards in his house (time, talents, possessions, and opportunities) for the furtherance of the gospel, the building of his kingdom, and the glory of his name, rather than for our own gratification, we would never lack the means to do his work.




Haggai’s third message describes our utter inability to do anything acceptable to God because of our uncleanness (2:10-19). Apparently, many who worked feverishly in restoring the house and worship of God got the idea that they were making themselves holy by their contact with the temple. So Haggai takes us back to the law of Moses to show us that we cannot be accepted of God and cannot serve him acceptably, cannot do anything acceptable in his sight, except we be made clean (2:11-14).


In verses 15-17 the prophet tells us to consider the temple itself, from its very foundation. Our cleanness and acceptance with God is to be found in the person and work of Christ that was portrayed in all the sacrifices and priesthood connected with the temple. As the building of the temple was God’s work alone, so our salvation, our righteousness, is God’s work alone.


Again, he calls for us to consider all that was typically symbolized in the temple at Jerusalem, and keep our hearts focused on that, focused on Christ and his glory, and be assured of the blessedness found in and flowing to us from him (2:18-19).


There is a time to sow and a time to reap. Here, we are, as it were, just planting the seed. While the seed is in the ground, no one looks for the harvest. The harvest time is future. This is our sowing time. So let us sow. Soon, we shall reap. From that day, the Lord promises his blessing. Eternity shall be for God’s elect endless blessedness in the enjoyment of God’s glory in the salvation of our souls by Christ.


Coming Blessedness


Haggai’s last message was about that coming blessedness that awaits God’s people (vv. 20-23). He spanned the ages of time and speaks of Christ even more fully.


“And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying, Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.”


Zerubbabel is set before us here as a great type of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Governor of Judah and the Governor of the universe, ruling all things for his beloved Judah (Isa. 9:6). He is the One who shakes heaven and earth. He overthrows and subdues kingdoms. He is Jehovah’s Servant. He is the Signet, “the express image” (Heb. 1:1-3) of the Father. He is Jehovah’s chosen One. He is the One who builds his house.


The words of Psalm 2 and Zechariah 4 are echoed at the conclusion of Haggai's prophecy:


“Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession” (Psa 2:6-8).


“Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth” (Zec 4:6-10).