As with the whole of scripture, the Law and the Prophets — even the so-called “minor prophets,” such as Haggai and Zechariah —provide a future picture of the coming King of all kings, Jesus Christ, and an eternal Temple not made with hands.
Around 520 BC, the Lord is speaking to His people through the prophet Haggai. The message is clear: return to the first work of building the Temple of the Lord and glorifying God!
- The Lord exposes their sin of apathy and self-serving lifestyle and explains that this is why the work of their hands are being cursed by Him, rather than blessed. Chastisement for disobedience.
- Haggai warns the people to turn (repent) from first building/serving their own lives and rather to lay down their lives for the sake of rebuilding the Temple of the Lord.
- Upon the people hearing and turning their hearts, the Lord comforts His repentant people with the reassuring words of “I am with you!”
- The physical Temple is rebuilt five years later
- The prophetic fulfillment of Haggai is finally exposed when Jesus inaugurates the eternal foundation of the Living Temple of the Holy Spirit, His Body on earth. (John 15:18-21)
A historical reading of Haggai shows us how the people of the Haggai’s day allowed the cares of this life to choke out the work of serving the Lord. (Matthew 13:22)
Much like today, people were busy with their own lives, their own houses, fulfilling their own needs over the needs of the Lord and others. (Luke 9:57-62, Romans 15:1-3)
But a spiritual reading of Haggai reveals a coming Kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28) and a Temple that will be rebuilt on an eternal foundation of Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus Himself as the Cornerstone.
When the Messiah came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. The whole building, being put together by Him, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord. You also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit (Eph 2:17-21)
The Message for Us
Jesus warned us in His parable of the Sower that, if we’re not careful to redeem the time and keep our hand to the plow (not returning to self-serving our own life), the cares of this life can and will grow up as dangerous weeds that not only choke out our fruitfulness, but will ultimately cost us our relationship with the Lord. Those who do not stay alert and ready, loving and serving our Precious Lord who has redeemed us could hear:
“You wicked and lazy servant… take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:26-30)
But those who hear and do His says are those who will not be turned away in that Day. They will hear the Lord say:
“Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Matthew 25:21
Zechariah is the next book after Haggai, and God spoke on the same subject through Zechariah just two years after Haggai. Read these books by first asking the Spirit to help you to understand both the historical narrative and, more importantly, the SPIRITUAL message for us today and how these texts prophesy the Messiah and the Living Temple.
Then be diligent to read the Gospels and the letters of Apostles to see who this all unfolded and is STILL being worked out in anticipation of the second coming of our Lord Jesus!
A very powerful statement is found in Zechariah that is magnified for us today. In speaking to Zerubbabel, the Lord encourages him that the temple will not be built by the power and spirit of man alone, but ultimately by God’s Power, His Spirit!
So he answered and said to me:
“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel:
‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’
Says the Lord of hosts.
‘Who are you, O great mountain?
(a mustard seed of faith moves mountains)
Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!
And he shall bring forth the capstone
With shouts of “Grace, grace to it!”’”
Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
“The hands of Zerubbabel
Have laid the foundation of this temple: his hands shall also finish it.
Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.
For who has despised the day of small things?
For these seven rejoice to see
The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
They are the eyes of the Lord,
Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth.”
THIS IS THE TAKE AWAY — a) By Grace we are saved b) to do the work of God c) by the POWER of the Holy Spirit in us, d) for His GLORY and His KINGDOM! Amen!!!
An in-depth prophet, historic, and textual study of Haggai and the Kingdom of God in Christ
Timeline & Setting
Babylon is conquered by Cyrus, Jews allowed to return to Jerusalem
The LORD speaks to the returned exiles of Babylon through Haggai
The LORD speaks to the returned exiles of Babylon through Zechariah
The temporal Temple is rebuilt under the hand of Zerubbabel and Joshua
Christ fulfills the prophetic promise of an eternal foundation being laid (Christ and the Apostles) upon with His people are encouraged to “rebuild” the Temple (His Body on earth) as living stones, thus glorifying God.
Consider Your Ways
Haggai’s prophetic message from the Lord starts and ends with this admonition, “Consider your ways!” Look at the progression:
Now therefore, thus says the Lord Almighty: “Consider your ways!” Haggai 1:5
As opposed to Paul who gladly spent and was spent for others (2 Corinthians 12:15), they were gladly spending on themselves. The Lord reveals in plain day their sins of apathy and neglect toward the things of God. Incidentally, this is the same sin of Sodom: “Now this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom:she and her daughters had pride, plenty of food, and comfortable security, but didn’t support the poor and needy…” (Ezekiel 16:49)
Thus says the Lord Almighty: “Carefully consider your ways!” Haggai 1:7
As if the Lord is saying, ‘With great care and sobriety think about what you’ve been doing, how you’ve been living, who and what your focus has been on. Consider the path you’ve been walking as you have no excuse because I’ve made it very plain to you. You are without excuse.’
Mercy. This is the mercy of God. Rebukes are merciful. They function as a warning for us to turn away from a life that is leading toward selfishness and to turn toward a life that serves God with all we have; serving others as we abide in Him.
Then, the Lord continues to explain why they are lacking in almost every area of life: famine, drought, poverty, and division or the sword. This will be true in our life if we are not being faithful to God. We could work all the time but still never have enough. We could try to pray and read the Bible, but spiritually be dry and malnourished. Why? Because we might be serving ourselves or refusing to obey something the Lord has asked of us. Do yourself a favor and honor God at the same time. Love, believe, trust, and obey!
Brother or sister, if a clear word has been spoken into our life and you are unwilling to listen and do what the Lord requires, you will suffer until we are obedient again. Think Jonah.
“And now consider…” Haggai 2:15
Toward the end of the letter, the Lord completes the warning with a plea to consider once again or to think about their selfish activities and the consequences those choices brought. The Lord names the curses that came because of disobedience: barrenness, blight, and hail. And the most astonishing thing is this: “And yet you did not turn to Me,” says the Lord. What’s the next command from God? “Establish your hearts from this day forward…” In other words, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” This is what was preached by both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ, announcing the inauguration of the fulfillment of the eternal Kingdom ruled by the King of all kings.
Although this book has historical significance, Haggai is more importantly a picture, type, and prophecy of the coming Kingdom of God, with Joshua (Jesus/Yeshua) as both King and Priest (read Zecharia).
How do we know Haggai is speaking of the Spiritual Temple?
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Cor 6:19-20
The apostles brought so much of the Old Testament to life by exposing the prophecies to the New Covenant. We can know for certain the Lord, through Haggai, is speaking of a future Kingdom because the writer of Hebrews quotes Haggai 2:6-7 in Hebrews 12:22-29:
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.
“See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but NOW He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”
Who are the Choice Portions of all the Nations?
“and I will shake all nations, and the choice portions [desired pieces] of all the nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory,” saith the Lord Almighty.
Jesus spoke a parable about those with a “good heart” receiving the Kingdom. A good, willing, repentant, yielding heart is whom the Lord desires. And in whom the Lord delights, He gives freely gives eternal life and an abundant entrance into the Kingdom of God.
But those who “love (agape) darkness [sin] rather than light [righteousness/obedience] because their deeds are evil” (John 3:19) are turned away unless or until they yield and bow the knee and allow Jesus to be Lord over ALL their life.
Job (24:13) says something very similar:
“There are those who rebel against the light; they do not know its ways nor remain in its paths.”
This word “know” in the Hebrew text says:
- look intently at
- recognize or acknowledge
- get acquainted with
- care for, or respect
You see, it is not that they didn’t have any idea and were innocent of the Truth. Rather those who love darkness did know, at least in part, and not only did nothing about it, but actively went away from what is right in the sight of God. This is why we must be careful to not be deceived into thinking we “don’t know” what the will of the Lord is, when in reality we DO know, but choose not to obey.
Plus, we have an interesting verse in the New Testament that has this same sentiment as rendered in the NASB:
Where most bibles today render the verse “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”, the NASB translates “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
You could say it this way, “Peace among men of goodwill, of a willing, humble heart.” Jesus said, He came not to bring peace (to all men) but a sword.
Unclean Because of the Work of their Hands (or Lack, thereof)
“…and whosoever shall approach them, shall be defiled because of their early burdens: they shall be pained because of their toils; and ye have hated him that reproved in the gates”. Haggai 2:14
At first I had to ask the Lord “what are their early burdens?” Why are they defiled because of this thing? And then the Lord helped me to see that His people had forgotten their First Love (Rev 2:4). They were no longer seeking FIRST His Kingdom, rather they were giving the leftovers of their time, energy, money, and heart to God… or they were giving nothing at all!”
Solomon understood this principle when he wrote this wise Truth:
There is one who scatters, yet increases more;
And there is one who withholds more than is right,
But it leads to poverty.
The generous soul will be made rich,
And he who waters will also be watered himself.
The principle in both the Old and New Testaments are to give the FIRST FRUITS of all that you have to the Lord and His Temple and His work and His Kingdom, but these people were spending the FIRST FRUITS of their labor upon themselves. Their “early burdens” were a means of taking care of themselves over God’s work and others.
And Jesus spoke to this issue on many occasions, such as “give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).
But most notably Jesus spoke about the man who had much and his life was one of abundance. And so, he thought to himself that he would build bigger storehouses to store all of “his stuff”. But Jesus calls him a fool and exposes that the man was storing up for himself FIRST rather than being generous toward God. (Luke 12:16-21)
But when speaking of generosity toward God and man, it is not just our checking account that God is concerned with. It is first our generous heart toward the ways of God; our generous forgiveness and love toward those who have wronged us; our generous deeds toward those who are NOT our friends or those we “get along with”.
It’s about being a generous wife, a generous husband, even toward our imperfect, possibly irritating spouses. It’s about being a generous dad and mom toward rebellious, unthankful children. Generous in reaching out to them, blessing them, not withdrawing our love but pouring it out upon them. And of course, this love can and will look like boundaries, rules, correction, etc. (“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” Prov 13:24 and “For whom the Lord loves He chastens” Prov 3:12/Heb 12:6).
What Pleases God
“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2 Cor 5:9-10
God is not pleased with those who give lots of money or gobs of time to “church activities” but withhold their heart (love, forgiveness, compassion, even rebuke) and hand (help, discipleship) from God and neighbor and even enemy. Rather, God is pleased with a life laid down for His purposes; a life imitating Jesus. He is pleased with you and I being that “living sacrifice” to God on His altar; on His terms, not ours.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12:1-3
The psalmist echoes this sentiment the fruit of our labors, burdens and toiling, if not found first in building upon the Lord:
“Unless the Lord builds the house, they lab in vain who build it. Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)
It is ALL vanity of vanities without the Lord as our Cornerstone and Capstone (Alpha & Omega; the Author and Finisher of our faith), and the doctrine/teachings of the Apostles and Prophets as the foundation of living, actionable faith.
Is our Faith and Love Alive?
- Am I a Living Stone or a dead stone?
- Am I desirous of giving my best – my first fruits – to Jesus or am I taking care of me, myself, and I, first and foremost?
- Am I generous in my love, forgiveness, and care toward my spouse, my family, my children, my parents, my neighbors, those who don’t know Christ, etc.?
- Am I generous toward those who don’t love me?
“…And you have hated him who rebukes in the gates”
The last phrase of Haggai 2:14 reproves:
”…and you have hated him who rebukes in the gates”.
First, the “gates” of a city are where legal, civic, business, and judicial matters took place. Those in the gates personify wisdom, justice, and justice or righteousness. In a city, the ones who sit in the gates would’ve been wise men, or women, such as Deborah — elders, judges, prophets, etc.—with some recognized governance or authority to make business and judicial decisions, even marry (Ruth 4:1-11), and direct various affairs of the city or people, or in the case of a prophet to cry out a warning from the Lord. Wisdom cries at the gates (Proverbs).
Jesus and the Apostles setup “gatekeepers” in the Kingdom of God and in the Body of Christ to govern His Kingdom in righteousness, lawfulness, and with His wisdom.
Back to Haggai’s message from the Lord. As it was in Jeremiah and Ezekiel’s time and even today, so it was in Haggai’s day. The people hated instruction and did what was “right” in their own eyes. To be clear, they didn’t just despise the message, the hated the messenger. And God calls such who despise rebuke as fools and sinners:
“Whoever hates rebuke walks in the steps of a sinner, But he who fears the Lord will return to Him with his heart.” (Wisdom of Sirach 21:6)
“My son, do not despise the instruction of the Lord, Neither grow weary under His reproof (rebuke). For whom the Lord loves He instructs, And chastises every son He receives.” (Proverbs of Solomon 3:11-12)
“…the way of life is reproof and instruction” (Proverbs of Solomon 6:28)
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7 NKJV)
So who is this person who rebukes in the gates today, in Christianity? He (or she) is a prophet, blowing a warning trumpet to turn from sin and obey The Lord. It’s a picture of pastors, teachers, apostles, prophets, evangelists and faithful brothers and sisters speaking the Truth in love – “warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Col 1:28)
“To whom shall I speak and testify (give warning)? Will it be heard? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, and they cannot hear. Behold, the word of the Lord was an insult to them, and they do not wish to hear it. Thus says the Lord: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask about the eternal pathways of the Lord. See what the good way is and walk in it. Here you will find purification for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ I set watchmen over you. Listen to the sound of their trumpet. But they said, ‘We will not listen.’ Therefore the Gentiles heard, and those who shepherd their flocks. Hear, O earth. Behold, I will bring evils upon this people, the fruit of their turning away, because they did not heed My words, but rejected My law.” (Jeremiah 6:10, 16-19)
“Son of man, I made you a watchman for the house of Israel, and you will hear a word from My mouth and shall threaten them from Me: However, if you warn the lawless, and he does not turn from his lawlessness, nor from his way, that lawless man shall die in his unrighteousness; but you delivered your soul. But if you explicitly warn the righteous man not to sin, and he does not sin, the righteous man shall live, because you explicitly warned him; and you will deliver your own soul.” (Ezekiel 3:17, 19, 21)
“As for you, son of man, the sons of your people are talking about you by the walls and at the gateways of the houses. They speak as a man speaks to his brother, saying, ‘Let us gather and hear the words that proceed from the Lord.’ So they come together before you as people do, and they sit before you to hear your words, but they will not do them, because a lie is in their mouth, and their heart pursues their own defilements. For you are to them as a sweet, well-tuned song, and they will hear your words, but will not do them.” (Ezekiel 33:28-30)
The Last Word – “Be Strong.. and Work; for I AM with You”
“Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the Lord; ‘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 Almighty. ‘And My Spirit remains among you; take courage!’ ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and peace of soul for a possession to everyone who builds and raises this temple.’” (Haggai 2:4-5, 8-9)
Here are the promises of what we are putting our hand it in working for the King of all kings, the Kingdom that has no end, and the only Temple that is not made with hands:
- The Lord is our strength and our provision
- The Lord wants us to take courage, not to fear
- All our riches and possession are, in fact, the Lord’s, not ours
- The glory of this Temple of the Lord (our bodies and the Body of Christ) will be greater than any previous physical temple
- The builders of this Temple of the Lord and His workers receive the best, highest pay: “Peace of soul for a possession to everyone who builds and raises this temple”
And Jesus, the Branch, the Priest and King of this new Temple of the Church said something very similar before His ascension:
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore [BE STRONG] and make disciples of all the nations [AND WORK], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [I AM WITH YOU], even to the end of the age.” Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV)
Septuagint (LXX) vs Masoretic (MS) Comparison
Minor differences exist between to two texts. However, in keeping with the reliability of the LXX, we find more agreement with the apostolic text.
The MS adds a parenthetical “it is a little while longer” to the text. The apostle and writer of Hebrews knows nothing of this addition when he quotes this verse in Hebrews 12:26
In the MS we find an additional remark concerning the exodus which we do not find in the Septuagint: “According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt,”
The verses read slightly different between the two textual families and therefore cast different shadows.
MS reads: “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.”
LXX reads: “and I will shake all nations, and the choice portions [desired pieces] of all the nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord Almighty.
I believe the LXX is more in keeping with what we read from the NT, in that Jesus spoke a parable about those with a “good heart” receiving the Kingdom. A good, willing, repentant, yielding heart is whom the Lord desires. (This is explained in further detail on p. 5)
And in Haggai 2:14, this time it is the LXX that has something that the MS is lacking
MS reads: Then Haggai answered and said, “‘So is this people, and so is this nation before Me,’ says the Lord, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.
LXX reads: Then Haggai answered and said, ‘ “So is this people, so is this nation before Me,’ says the Lord, ‘and so are all the works of their hands. Whoever comes near them shall be unclean because of their early burdens; they shall be distressed because of their toils; and you have hated him who rebukes in the gates.