Help from Haggai, Verses 2. 10-23
J. B. Hewitt, Chesterfield
A MESSAGE OF RECOVERY AND DETERMINATION, 2. 10-19. This fourth message has to do with cleansing and blessing. It is a corrective message on responsibility; right conduct is important to God. This severe message was intended to dispel false expectations.
Their Impurity,w. 11-13, an appeal to the law. By a ritual comparison, the prophet reminded them that the neglected temple was an insult to God, and rendered all their worship unclean. A holy thing does not communicate its holiness to whatever touches it, but, on the contrary, what is unclean contaminates what it touches. Their ceremonial carelessness in spite of conforming to legal requirements was unacceptable to God. Sodom left its mark on Lot, and defilement is transmittable. God looked at the heart, and their motives were not pure.
Their Impatience,vv. 14-19, an application of the law. Holiness is not contagious, but uncleanness is. "So is this people", v. 14. Uncleanness might be contracted in many ways. Contact with a dead body was a common one, Num. 19. 11, and communion with God was impossible until the contamination had been ceremonially removed. Their lack of zeal for God had vitiated all their religious services. There must be true repentance; the inward unrighteousness contaminates all, Psa. 51.6, 7, 10; 66. 18. Their present obedience would bring material prosperity, but they must give God time.
An appeal for consideration, v. 15. They were asked to reflect upon the past state of affairs. Everything seemed to be cursed. The pollution of nature, the result of their sin, could not be immediately set right, 1.11. The discipline of God brought blight, yet they were quite indifferent, v. 17. We should be deeply concerned about the lack of blessing in our assembly, and ask ourselves, "Is it I?". We dare not be indifferent to barrenness as Israel was, v. 17. Their affliction was due to the punitive hand of God laid upon them in chastisement. His governmental dealings are to bring the soul back to God. It was effectual in David's case, Psa. 51, but completely ineffective in this case.
Their Inspiration,v. 19b, an announcement of grace. From this day onwards, there will be blessing and prosperity instead of failure. Study the "I will's" of encouragement given to these defeated saints. Seeing that they were now obedient, their fortunes would change and God would bless them. Like the Philippian saints who obeyed the mind of God during Paul's absence, may we obey from the heart the mould of teaching delivered to us, Phil. 2. 12; Rom. 6. 17.
A CONFIRMING MESSAGE OF REWARD, 2. 20-23. This final message of assurance is addressed particularly to Zerubbabel, to lift him out of fear and depression.
The Divine Plan,"I will shake the heavens and the earth", v. 21. Jehovah here guarantees the overthrow of all their enemies: in the approaching convulsions, God's kingdom will stand. The Jews were still anxious about the future. Although assured that their religion would still exist, they might fear for their civil liberties. The message is addressed to their civil leader, and therefore the representative of the people in their civil capacity. These convulsions look beyond any empire in Zerubbabel's day to the more distant future, and still await their full accomplishment. Zerubbabel may be taken as a type of the Messiah. Here we have a picture of the future tribulation days, and the second advent of our Lord Jesus. The day of the coming Conqueror will mean thrones will be overthrown, military forces completely routed, and terrible confusion created among them.
The Divine Purposecannot be hindered by the military might of all the nations of the earth, v. 22. The kingdom of Messiah will be set up. He is the "stone" that smites the image and destroys it, Dan. 2. 44-45.
The Divine Promise,v. 23. The title "Jehovah of hosts" occurs fourteen times in the two chapters. It would indicate Jehovah as Ruler and consequently Creator of the highest material objects and spiritual agencies. It is connected only with the marshalled myriads of heaven.
The armies of the nations, gathered up to besiege the holy city, will be destroyed by the Son of man in all His glory and power. In that day, Zerubbabel as representative of the people and of the royal line of David would be made a signet ring, the symbol of authority, Gen. 41. 42; Esther 3. 10; 8. 2. It was prized accordingly, and jealously guarded as a very precious object, Jer. 22. 24. The Lord Jesus is pictured here as being invested with all rule and authority, and God will set Him on the holy hill of Zion. All the promises made to Abraham and repeated to Isaac and Jacob will be fulfilled, Gen. 12. 1-3; 15. 5; 22. 17, and other verses in Genesis. The covenant made is everlasting, 17. 7, unconditional and irrevocable.
The nation of Israel, chosen by God, will come into blessing. The seal and signet make Israel absolutely secure. Their blessings are for the earth; ours are heavenly, linked with the Son of God coming to receive us unto Himself, John 14. 3; 1 Thess. 4. 14-18.
May we capture the enthusiasm of Haggai in serving the Lord: H - had a message from God, 1. 13. A - authority from God, 1.2. G - gladdened the hearts of the saints, 1. 13; 2. 4. G -guided them in the ways of God, 1. 7-8; 2. 4. A - assured them of God's presence with them, 1. 13; 2. 4. I -instrumental in getting work done for God, 1. 12.