1 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Haggai, saying, 2 "Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying, 3 'Who is left among you who saw this house in her first glory? And how do you see it now? Is it not in your eyes as nothing in comparison? 4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel,' says the LORD. 'Be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,' says the LORD. 'Work, for I am with you,' says the LORD of hosts. 5 'According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.' 6 For thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the dry land, 7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come. And I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD of hosts. 8 'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' says the LORD of hosts. 9 'The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former,' says the LORD of hosts. 'And in this place I will give peace,' says the LORD of hosts."
10 On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 11 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Ask the priests concerning the law, saying, 12 "If someone bears holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt touches bread, pottage, wine, oil, or any food, shall it be holy?"'" And the priests answered and said, "No." 13 Then Haggai said, "If someone who is unclean by a dead body touches any of these, shall it be unclean?" And the priests answered and said, "It shall be unclean." 14 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 that which they offer there is unclean. 15 And now, I pray you, consider from this day onward, before stone was laid upon stone in the temple of the LORD. 16 Since those days were, when someone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten. When someone came to the press-vat to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty. 17 I smote you with blasting, with mildew, and with hail in all the labors of your hands, yet you did not turn to me,' says the LORD. 18 'Consider now from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD'S temple was laid, consider it. 19 Is the seed yet in the barn? Indeed, the vine, the fig-tree, the pomegranate, and the olive-tree have not brought forth. From this day I will bless you.'"
20 And again the word of the LORD came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying, 21 "Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, 'I will shake the heavens and the earth. 22 I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen. I will overthrow the chariots and those who ride in them, and the horses and their riders shall come down, each by the sword of his brother. 23 In that day,' says the LORD of hosts, 'I will take you, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel,' says the LORD, 'and will make you as a signet, for I have chosen you,' says the LORD of hosts."
This chapter contains three sermons or prophecies, delivered by the prophet to the people of the Jews. The design of the first is to encourage them to go on with the building of the temple, though it might seem to come greatly short of the former temple, as to its outward form and splendor. The time of the prophecy (verse 1), an order to deliver it to the governor, high priest, and all the people (verse 2). A question is put concerning the difference between this temple and the former; between which it is suggested there was no comparison; which is assented to by silence (verse 3), nevertheless, the prince, priest, and people, are exhorted to go on strenuously in the work of building; encouraged with a promise of the presence of the Lord of hosts, and of his Word, in whom he covenanted with them at their coming out of Egypt, and of the blessed Spirit, and his continuance with them (verses 4-5), and, the more to remove their fears and faintings, it is declared that in a very short time a most wonderful thing should be done in the world, which would affect all the nations of the earth; for that illustrious Person would come, whom all nations do or should desire; and, not only come into the world, but into that temple they were building, and give it a greater glory than the former; indeed, a greater glory than if all the gold and silver in the world were laid out upon it, or brought into it; which being all the Lord's, could have been easily done by him; but he would give in it something infinitely greater than that, even the Prince of peace, with all the blessings of it (verses 6-9). Then follows the second sermon or prophecy, the time of which is observed (verse 10), and it is introduced with some questions concerning ceremonial uncleanness, by an unclean person's touching holy flesh with the skirt of his garment; and other things, which is confirmed by the answer of the priests (verses 11-13), the application of which is made to the people of the Jews, who were similarly unclean; they, their works, and their sacrifices (verse 14), and these are directed to consider, that, during the time they had neglected to build the temple, they were attended with scarcity of provisions; their fields and vineyards being blasted with mildew or destroyed by hail, and their labors proved unsuccessful (verses 15-17), but now, since they had begun the work of building, it is promised they should be blessed with everything, though they had nothing in store, and everything was unpromising to them; which is designed to encourage them to go on cheerfully in their begun work (verses 18-19). The chapter is concluded with the last discourse or prophecy, the date of which is given (verse 20), an instruction to deliver it to Zerubbabel (verse 21), foretelling the destruction of the kingdoms of the heathen; and the setting up of the kingdom of the Messiah, of whom Zerubbabel was a type, precious and honorable in the sight of God (verses 22-23).
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 1:12-2:5:
Grant, Almighty God, that as we are not only alienated in mind from you, but also often relapse after having been once stirred up by you, either into perverseness, or into our own vanity, or are led astray by various things, so that nothing is more difficult than to pursue our course until we reach the end of our race,— O grant that we may not confide in our own strength, nor claim for ourselves more than what is right, but, with our hearts raised above, depend on you alone, and constantly call on you to supply us with new strength, and so to confirm us that we may persevere to the end in the discharge of our duty, until we shall at length attain the true and perfect form of that temple which you command us to build, in which your perfect glory shines forth, and into which we are to be transformed by Christ our Lord. Amen.
[v.7] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "We may understand what [Haggai] says of Christ, 'Come shall the desire of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory.' We indeed know that Christ was the expectation of the whole world, according to what is said by Isaiah (Isaiah ch. 60). And it may be properly said, that when the desire of all nations shall come, that is, when Christ shall be manifested, in whom the wishes of all ought to center, the glory of the second Temple shall then be illustrious."
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 6-9:
Grant, Almighty God, that since we are by nature extremely prone to superstition, we may carefully consider what is the true and right way of serving you, such as you desire and approve, even that we offer ourselves spiritually to you, and seek no other altar but Christ, and relying on no other priest, hope to be acceptable and devoted to you, that he may imbue us with the Spirit which has been fully poured on him, so that we may from the heart devote ourselves to you, and thus proceed patiently in our course, that with minds raised upwards we may ever go on toward that glory which is as yet hid under hope, until it shall at length be manifested in due time, when your only-begotten Son shall appear with the elect angels for our final redemption. Amen.
[v.11] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "Whenever God bids pastors to be heard whom he sets over his Church, his will is... that he himself should be heard through their mouth. In short, whatever authority is exercised in the Church ought to be subjected to this rule—that God's law is to retain its own pre-eminence, and that men blend nothing of their own, but only define what is right according to the Word of the Lord."
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 10-14:
Grant, Almighty God, that inasmuch as we come from our mother's womb wholly impure and polluted, and afterward continually contract so many new defilements,— O grant that we may flee to the fountain which alone can cleanse us. And as there is no other way by which we can be cleansed from all the defilements of the flesh, except we be sprinkled by the blood of your only-begotten Son, and that by the hidden power of your Spirit, and thus renounce all our vices,— O grant that we may so strive truly and sincerely to devote ourselves to you, as daily to renounce more and more all our evil affections, and to have nothing else as our object, but to submit our minds and all our affections to you, by really denying ourselves, and to exercise ourselves in this strenuous effort as long as we are in this world, until we attain to that true and perfect purity, which is laid up for us in your only-begotten Son, when we shall be fully united to him, having been transformed into that glory into which he has been received. Amen.
[v.23] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "God addresses Zerubbabel here, that in his person he might testify that he would bless the people whom he intended to gather under that sacred leader; for though Zerubbabel never had a kingdom, nor ever wore a crown, he was yet of the tribe of Judah; and God designed that some spark of that kingdom should exist, which he had raised in the family of David. Since, then, Zerubbabel was at that time a type of Christ, God declares here that he would be to him as a signet—that is, that his dignity would be esteemed by him... The meaning, then, of the similitude is, that Zerubbabel, though despised by the world, was yet highly esteemed by God. But it is evident that this was never fulfilled in the person of Zerubbabel. It hence follows that it is to be applied to Christ. God, in short, shows, that that people gathered under one head would be accepted by him; for Christ was at length to rise, as it is evident, from the seed of Zerubbabel (Matthew 1:12-13; Luke 3:27)... But this reason is to be especially noticed—'Because I have chosen you.' For God does not here ascribe excellencies or merits to Zerubbabel, when he says that he would hold him in great esteem; but he attributes this to his own election. If, then, the reason be asked why God had so much exalted Zerubbabel, and bestowed on him favors so illustrious, it can be found in nothing else but in the goodness of God alone. God had made a covenant with David, and promised that his kingdom would be eternal (1st Kings 2:4; Psalm 89:3-4, 132:11-12); hence it was that he chose Zerubbabel after the people had returned from exile (Matthew 1:12); and this election was the reason why God exalted Zerubbabel, though his power at that time was but small. We indeed know that he was exposed to the contempt of all nations; but God invites here the attention of the faithful to their election, so that they might hope for more than what the perception of the flesh could conceive or apprehend; for what he has decreed cannot be made void; and in the person of Zerubbabel he had determined to save a chosen people; for from him, as it has been said, Christ was to come."
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 15-23:
Grant, Almighty God, that as we are still restrained by our earthly cares, and cannot ascend upward to heaven with so much readiness and alacrity as we ought,— O grant, that since you extend to us daily so liberal a supply for the present life, we may at least learn that you are our Father, and that we may not at the same time fix our thoughts on these perishable things, but learn to elevate our minds higher, and so make continual advances in your spiritual service, until at length we come to the full and complete fruition of that blessed and celestial life which you have promised to us, and procured for us by the blood of your only-begotten Son. Amen.