"1In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lordcame by the hand of Haggai the prophet: 2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? 4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, 5 according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. 6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.’”
Haggai's second prophecy is recorded in these verses. It was given some twenty-seven days after the recommencement of the work (1:15), and is clearly a word of exhortation and encouragement. Our understanding of it must be something like this: At the end of chapter 1 we see the people of God resuming the work of rebuilding the Temple with a new spirit of enthusiasm and dedication. But it could be readily understood that for at least some of them, this might have been a fairly marginal experience, with not very much reserve of inspiration. And to work on a slight and slender margin for twenty-seven days can be fairly testing. In such circumstances it is very easy for discouragements to be allowed to loom up in the background of the mind. There were some, it would seem - and this seems to be how we should interpret 2 and 3 - who, looking at the rebuilding, were casting their minds back to the glories and magnificence of the former Temple, and were comparing the new, very modest building before them very unfavourably with that of the past. And their spirits began to go down once more. It was in this context that the prophet gave a new word of encouragement from the Lord. This is something that raises a very major issue, and we have much to learn from it, as the following Notes will show.