Haggai 2 Bible Commentary

John Darby’s Synopsis

(Read all of Haggai 2)
The following commentary covers Chapters 1 and 2.

God Himself with His feeble people in His glory to fill the house

But the testimony of God graciously takes into account also, the natural effects of the mean appearance of that which they could do for Him, for God thinks of everything that concerns His people. He was as faithfully their God now as at the best period of their history. The proof of it was indeed stronger. He was with them. The word that went forth from His mouth when He brought them up from Egypt He would maintain. His Spirit should remain among them. They were not to fear. But, while sustaining the faith of this feeble remnant by His tender mercy, He goes much farther. If He could not manifest Himself among them, on account of their fall and of the establishment of another order of things, the time would come for His own intervention by His own power. He would shake all things, because the creature could not sustain the weight of His glory, and would establish this glory by His power, and would fill His earthly dwelling-place with His glory.

Not only should the earth be shaken—this had often happened; but the enemy who exercised the power of darkness had always led men to corrupt everything afresh, and to degrade all that God had established in blessing. But now, the heavens and the earth, the sea—authority on high, and all that was organised below, all established order, and all that floated unorganised in the world—and all the nations, should be shaken; and the object of desire to all nations should come; and the house which they were now rebuilding with so much trouble, which was so contemptible in comparison with its former glory, should be filled with glory by the Lord.

The true glory of the house

The expression which I have rendered by "the object of desire shall come" is very difficult to translate. It appears to me that, looking at the context, I have given the sense, [1] and that the Spirit of God designedly expressed Himself in vague terms, which, when the mind apprehended the true glory of the house, would embrace the Messiah. The object of the passage is to certify that the house shall be filled with glory. [2] Meanwhile outward glory should be granted it. The silver and the gold were Jehovah's. But the nations, overthrown, oppressed, and oppressing one another, not knowing where to look for happiness, strength, and peace, shall find in that One who alone should establish the glory of Jehovah and bestow true peace—in a word, shall find in Christ alone blessing and deliverance; and He shall be the glory of the house which the poor remnant were building.

The greater latter glory of the house

The latter glory of the house should be even greater than the former. It is not "the glory of the latter house"; the house is always considered as the same house. God will fill it with more glory at the end than at the beginning, and the peace of Jehovah Himself shall have its seat there. This shall be accomplished in the last days. He who shall fill it with glory has indeed come; but, even while making eternal peace for our souls, the world was in such a state that He was obliged to say to the people, "Think not that I am come to bring peace, but a sword." Having shaken all nations, He will, coming in His glory, set peace in the earth. [3]

Holiness and belssing consequent on recognition of God's presence

Two other prophecies close the Book of Haggai, relating, like the rest of its contents, to the house. The people, who neglected Jehovah, had become, as it were, profane. That which is holy cannot sanctify profane things; but an unclean thing defiles that which is holy; for holiness is exclusive with respect to evil. The presence of evil destroys holiness by the very fact of its presence, unless the holiness be of that nature which, by its own existence, excludes all that is contrary to it—such as the nature of God. But when God is admitted and acknowledged, He can bless by the power of His presence. Thus, from the day that the people even sought to recognise and to realise that presence among them, blessing proceeded from it.

All things to be shaken: the place of the true Seed of David in that day

The second prophecy returns to the shaking of all things. In that day, the governor of Judah, the heir of David, should be as a signet on the hand of Him by whom all things were shaken. While encouraging the people at the time of the prophecy—a time when they so greatly needed it—this prophecy, in naming Zerubbabel, has Him in view who, when God will shake the heavens and the earth, shall be the true seed of David and the heir of his crown according to God—the Christ of God, the Elect from among the people.

The judgment of the nations who will come up against Jerusalem

The judgment mentioned in verse 22 appears to me, not the judgment of the throne of the beast, but that of the nations who, at that day, will come up against Jerusalem. All that sets itself up against the rights of Jehovah established according to His counsels at Jerusalem (rights that were identified with the house they were building) should be overthrown. No doubt this is true, in general, of the kingdom of the beast: but the conditions of its existence are quite different. God had put Jerusalem under the power of the head of this empire. The crimes that draw down judgment upon him, are yet more audacious and intolerable than those of which the nations are guilty.

The object of Haggai's prophecy

In sum, the object of this prophecy is to connect blessing on the earth with the house; and to shew that, mean as it might be, its latter glory should be greater than the former. God, in establishing all in glory according to the counsels of His grace, would introduce something much more excellent than that which had been committed to man, and established by his means. This is connected with the shaking of all things by His mighty hand, and with the establishment of David's heir as the object of God's love, and the vessel of His power.

The Gentile empire's authority acknowledged as given by God

It will be observed that the Spirit of God, although He is present to bless His people, to encourage them, and to connect them with God in the worship that was to be offered Him in His house, yet acknowledges the authority of the Gentile empire. These prophecies are dated according to the years of the reign of the Gentile king. It is His will that the things of God be rendered to God, and the things of Caesar to him who then held the place of Caesar. It was God who had placed him there. We shall thus understand the perfect wisdom of the Lord in His reply (Mark 12: 17), and the way in which the word is its expression.

Malachi's pronouncement of judgment on the result in Israel of God's grace

Malachi neither places nor establishes anything as Haggai does, and Zechariah. He only pronounces judgment upon the result in Israel of that which God had done in grace, by re-establishing the remnant; shewing how little the worship, by which He had connected Israel with Himself, had been maintained in such a manner as to glorify Him.

[1] Diodati's Italian version, which is considered very accurate, agrees with the English. De Wette renders it, "The precious things." But it is not what is very generally used for mere costly things, though the same root. This is Chemdath, that Chamudoth. The difficulty is that "shall come" is in the plural. Perhaps this is De Wette's motive for saying "things," taking Chemdath, as "vahu" comes first, as a description of the things that come. The Italian has la scelta verra, the chosen object (the choice one) of the nations shall come.

[2] If not, and the sense is to be governed by the following verse, it would refer to the desirable things of the Gentiles, which would glorify the house; but I prefer what is in the text.

[3] It is remarkable that in Luke, when Christ rides into Jerusalem, it is said: "Peace in heaven" (Luke 19: 38). For it is indeed, when Satan is cast down thence after the final war with the heavenly powers, that blessing upon earth can be really established. Up to then it has been always corrupted and spoiled by the power of evil, or spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. Then that will be for ever over. Satan may come up on earth if permitted, as an adversary, but his heavenly power as spiritual wickedness is for ever over. The prince of the power of the air is gone, his place was found no more in heaven.