HAGGAI 1:1 – 2:23 and REVELATION 18:9–24
Haggai is the first of the post exile prophets. The period of his ministry is limited to the year 520 BC which is about 16 years after the initial return from Babylonian captivity. The other post exilic prophets would be Zechariah and Malachi. The messages of these prophets are quite different from the other prophets seeing that they place emphasis on Restoration as opposed to coming judgement. Their prophetic messages carry far more meaning for the last days then for the days they were living in. Haggai prophesied approximately 70 years after Zephaniah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Haggai witnessed the fall of the Babylonian empire to the Medes and Persians. There were two primary people commissioned with the work of the rebuilding of the temple. It was Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel who happened to be a prince of Judah. (He was a descendant of David) It is another type of the king/priest relationship that God is looking for at the time of the 2nd coming (Rev 1:6, 5:10). We discover more about these two men from the early chapters of the Book of Ezra (Ezr 3-4).
The initial foundation of the temple was laid in 535 BC but was hindered when the sons of Esarhaddon sought to interfere with the process (Ezra 4). They feigned interest in assisting with the work but they did so with evil intent. Joshua and Zerubbabel discerned their intentions and stopped them. The sons of Esarhaddon petitioned the king which resulted in a ceasing of the work for about 16 years. It was near the end of this 16 year period when Haggai began his prophetic ministry. It was due to the prophetic ministries of Haggai and Zechariah that the work of rebuilding the temple was able to commence (Ezra 5:1-5). The work of this temple was completed in 516 BC.
These two prophets (Haggai and Zechariah) also brought in a restoration of the Feast of Tabernacles. This is one of the reasons why Haggai figures prominently today. The revival to come will be a celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles that will return to the church. There are several names given to this Feast. Two of them are Restoration and Ingathering; two primary experiences that the church of the last days will come to know.
The ministry of Haggai lasted only 15 weeks which was a very short period when compared to several of the other prophets; Hosea and Daniel had ministry that lasted for 60 years. The main thing is to be faithful with the task and calling that God has given. The primary theme of Haggai is Restoration.
The Book of Haggai can be broken down into 5 different messages:
1) Consider your ways and build your house. (1:1-12)
2) I am with you (1:13-15)
3) The greater Glory (2:1-9)
4) I will bless you (2:10-19)
5) Shaking the heaven and the earth (2:20-23)
In verse one we note that Zerubbabel and Joshua were commissioned to lead the people from Babylon to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. There were forces at work that were trying to stymie the rebuilding effort. It is seen in every area of restoration. The enemy was stirred when Nehemiah sought to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. He seeks to employ different tactics here as well. The people become easily discouraged and the enemy seeks to employ every tactic to stop the restoration effort.
In verses 3-6 the Lord rebuked the people due to their putting more time and effort in their own houses as opposed to the welfare of the house of God. They were putting themselves before the Lord. If the people would put God first they would see a release of God’s blessing upon their lives (vs 3-6). The Lord allowed for economic disasters to come upon his people because they were putting themselves first. This is why we must be careful today. If we are in ministry then we need to assess how we live. The Lord desires to bless His people but God must be first and foremost in one’s life.
Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
If we can learn to put God’s kingdom first in all we do we will see His blessing. The Lord allowed for economic ruin to come upon His people so that they would turn unto Him and cry out for relief. These were early lessons that the early restorers needed to learn (vs 10-11). This is the mercy of God at work in seeking to get a hold of our attention.
The blessing of godly leaders is seen in verse 12. Under the guidance of Haggai, Zerubbabel and Joshua the people came back to the place of fearing the Lord. It is essential to serve as a good example to others. If we seek to live under the anointing of the Fear of the Lord it will have an effect on others. The Lord then speaks through Haggai that if the people turn to the Lord he will turn back unto them (vs 13). The fruit of their example resulted in the stirring up of the people to be about the work of rebuilding. The dedication and example of these leaders motivated the others to labour hard for the glory of the Lord. We will later see this with Nehemiah. He had a mind to work and this ethic inspired the people to do the same. Those who serve as leaders during a period of Restoration will be those who work hard. The zeal of the Lord is a worthy prayer to bring before the Lord. It is a zeal that seeks to leave nothing undone.
The prophet Haggai will speak of a greater glory that is to come. There was a partial fulfilment of this at Pentecost but there yet remains something even greater. There were mixed emotions at the dedication of the restored temple. The younger ones rejoiced because they were no longer subjected to captivity. The older among them wept because they had seen Solomon’s temple and this new one could not compare. It is interesting to note that these older ones never saw Solomon’s temple in its full glory. What they would have seen is a temple that had lost much of its former glory and yet it was still greater than what they saw here. In spite of this the Word of the Lord encourages Joshua and Zerubbabel to press on in the work for the Lord was with them (vs 4-5). The spirit remained among them in the work which was a quote from Isaiah 59:21. We should pray that the Spirit of God remains and abides with us and with our churches.
There is a shaking that will take place in the heavens, seas and land that will result in the desire of all nations coming to the house of the Lord. There is a coming glory that will fill the house of the Lord and it seems to coincide in some way with judgement. This is consistent with Isaiah 60 regarding the Glory of the Lord filling the earth around the same time there is gross darkness.
There will be a literal temple constructed during the millennium. The prophet Ezekiel speaks of this temple in chapters 40-48. It will be this temple that will far exceed the glory of Solomon’s temple. There is also another truth to draw from these verses. The glory of the latter day church in the lead up to the 2nd coming will be greater than that of the early church. The early church was indeed glorious but it will be exceeded by the glory of the last day church. The church is about to enter the feast of Tabernacles and with it will be a great glory and ingathering of souls. This is not to be confused with the glorious temple that will be established at the time of the millennium. It is exciting to read the accounts of what happened at Solomon’s temple as well as the exploits of the early church. The prophesy of Haggai makes clear that the glory to come will be far greater than that of the early church and Solomon’s temple.
In verses 10-14 we see several of the Jews who were restored yet still walking in uncleanness. Many of those in the priestly ministry were not setting a good example for the people. Haggai was looking to address these issues quickly after just coming out of captivity so that it does not become an ingrained problem. Fortunately, there was a quality of leadership who could accept the responsibility by interceding on the people’s behalf. One of the hallmarks of a true restoration priest is their ability to accept responsibility of the sins of the people. This is what the Lord is seeking to develop within His church today.
The Lord is still allowing for the Jews to experience troubles because many of them were still not turning back to the Lord. The age old problem of spending more time on their own homes and lives instead of the Lord is still one of the primary problems. A related series of verses could well be the 3 sets of excuses that were given in Luke 15. This is the account where an invitation was given to attend a wedding feast but many began to use all kinds of excuses. It sounds good at first but when weighed against the opportunity being presented to them it can be seen differently. Those rejections are an example of excuses that will disqualify many from the marriage supper of the Lamb. Those accounts from Luke 15 must be seen in that light. The invitation is being extended to all, what is the response?
The Lord in the end does want to bless those who hear and respond to His call. In the initial stages the Jews refused to build the temple so God had to deal with them. They repented and served under godly leadership in the rebuilding work which brought about God’s blessing. This is God’s heart in seeking to bless those who put Him first. This of course is predicated on first learning to trust Him.
This book closes with a warning of a great overthrowing of thrones and kingdoms. It is a picture of the last day battle at Armageddon. There is the promise given to Zerubbabel that will not find its fulfilment until the time of the millennium. If Jerusalem would have remained in power as a nation Zerubbabel would have been on the throne. The Lord gives precious promises to him that will be realized beyond his earthy years. He will have a vital role in the millennial reign of Christ. Our eyes must be fixed upon eternity. We so thank the Lord for the blessings and favour that we come to know in this life. Still, it is the life to come that should be the focus of our attention; to live our lives from God’s eternal perspective. This is one of the blessings that we find in the post exilic books of Haggai, Zachariah and Malachi. The focus of these books point to the last days. The sobering truth is that we are now about to enter into the years that these men spoke of. Help us O Lord to have ears to hear and hearts that obey.
The devastation that will come upon mystery Babylon and Babylon itself will have the other leaders of the world stand afar off in amazement and in great fear. We also see a lamentation among the merchants as they come to recognize the economic fallout of that which is taking place. The once proud entities of Babylon have been destroyed in an hour or in a short period of time. This all flows with what Daniel wrote over 2600 years earlier. He wrote and saw the fall of Babylon in the visions and dreams that he was given. He also wrote about Darius the Mede who would take Babylon. Interestingly, he mentioned the age of Darius as being 62 when this takes place. This is significant seeing that are 62 generations from Adam to Christ. There is a period of 62 weeks that are isolated in Daniel 9:26 which points to the death of Jesus. This sends the message that the time of the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ is near. (See Daniel 9:24-26 commentary for a more comprehensive explanation)
The fallout from the attacks upon Babylon are further expressed in verses 11-16. This account is further enhanced when looking upon the judgements that came upon Tyre as seen in Ezekiel 27. The prince of Tyre gives a vivid portrayal of the heart of Satan as seen at the time of his (Lucifer’s) rebellion in heaven (Ezek 28:14-17). The riches of Babylon and all it represents will be destroyed in a very short period of time. There will be great fear that will grip the hearts of men but the question is will they repent? There is emphasis upon a city in verses 18-19. Is this city related solely to modern day Babylon (Iraq) or are there implications for other cities in the world that might experience great judgements? I personally feel that there will be other cities on fire that are not specifically related to the portions of land referred to in these verses. The influence of the antichrist may reach in some context to other shores. The lament over a great city falling as seen in verses 17-19 suggests something far more than just Iraq. The terrorism network that is becoming more visible by the day truly has a global reach and impact.
At the time the judgements are being released there is the sound of rejoicing in heaven by the apostles and prophets for the avenging of those who took the lives of the saints (vs 20). The scene of a mighty angel casting down a millstone upon Babylon is given in verses 21. It will be a violent overthrow of Babylon. We must not forget that Babylon is a city and system that has its roots back to Genesis. It represents everything that is contrary to God because the roots of Babel put man at the center of all things. Babylon is the vehicle Satan sought to use in humanizing a defiant rebellion against God. It represents the heart and core of Satan and what he sought to achieve in heaven. This is why there is such a violent overthrow of Babylon as seen in these closing verses of chapter 18.