The prophets Haggai and Zechariah sent of God for encouragement
Whatever happens, they
have to go through that which puts faith to the proof;
but their path is ordered by the will of God, and their
faith relies upon Him. In this case they had to wait; but
God's time would come; and that, not by means of a mere
decree from the Gentile king: God raises up a much more
precious encouragement for them from another quarter.
Although the people had been subject to the Gentiles, God
was still supreme; His word is still of supreme authority
to His people, whenever He condescends to speak to them.
If necessary, He can dispose the hearts of kings to
uphold it. In every case His people are to follow it,
without seeking other motive, or other help. Haggai and
Zechariah are sent of God, and prophesy among the people.
These immediate communications from God were of infinite
value, as His word ever is; and although they did not
change the position of the people with respect to the
Gentiles, they were a touching proof that God was
interested in His people, and that, whatever might be
their afflictions, the God of Israel was above all that
had power to oppress them.
Want of faith the
true hindrance to building
I have said that the
people were obliged to wait. This was the case as soon as
they received the decree that forbade their continuing to
build. But many years had elapsed before this prohibition
came; and it seems evident to me, from examining the
prophecies which throw so much light on the contemporary
history, and from comparing their dates, that it was want
of faith in the remnant which was the true hindrance.
There were adversaries in the land who made them afraid,
and who thus prevented their building. It appears that
the Jews did not dare continue. Their adversaries hired
counsellors in the Persian court to frustrate the purpose
of the Jews. But the first thing was that the adversaries
weakened the hands of the people. It was not until two
reigns later that the prohibition was obtained; but the
Jews had left off building through fear of their
adversaries (compare chap. 4: 4, 21, and 5: 1, with
Haggai 1: 1, 2, 4; 2: 15). Neither was it because the
king's decree was brought them that they began again to
build, but because they feared Jehovah, and feared not
the king's command, as seeing Him who is invisible (Hag.
1: 12, 13). God was not any more to be feared in the
reign of Darius than in that of Cyrus or of Artaxerxes;
but the source of their weakness was their having
forgotten God. This makes manifest the great grace of God
in awakening them by the mouth of Haggai. God had until
then also chastened the people.