Haggai 1
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
The Bible student, with a view to the clear understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures, should fix in his mind the order of the prophetical writings. These books of prophecy may appropriately be arranged under three heads.

1. Those which stand related to the Assyrian period, including the books of Jonah, Joel, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, and Nahum.

2. Those connected with the Babylonian period, including Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Obadiah.

3. Those associated with the return from the exile: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. The introduction of this brief prophecy by Haggai suggests to us -

I. THE CHANGES MARKED BY THE REVOLVING WHEEL OF TIME. We are able, through this opening verse, to fix the exact date of this prophecy. It was "in the second year of Darius the king" that Haggai fulfilled this special mission, i.e. B.C. 521. Hence upwards of a century had passed away since Zephaniah had declared so faithfully the terrible Divine judgments which should overtake the nation on account of its guilt. His words had proved strictly true, and had been very literally and completely fulfilled. The land had been rendered utterly desolate; its cities had been entirely destroyed; its temple reduced to a heap of ruins; and its people carried away into exile. No King of Judah was referred to by Haggai in commencing his book, for the simple reason that the throne had fallen, and he had to recognize the authority of a Persian sovereign, and to speak of his favoured land as a province of a foreign power (ver. 1). The dispersion, however, had in a measure been followed by the regathering. Zephaniah had prophesied respecting the return of "a remnant," and his prophecy had, in a sense, now been fulfilled, for Cyrus permitted the Jews to colonize their own land, and a number had availed themselves of this permission, and had now spent some years in the bad given to their fathers, seeking to repair the waste and desolation which the march of events and the lapse of time had wrought.

II. THE WILL OF GOD AS COMMUNICATED THROUGH HUMAN INSTRUMENTALITY. The returned exiles commenced well. Their first concern had reference to the rebuilding of the house of the Lord, and with all possible speed they laid the foundation of the second temple. They were, however, weak and poor; they laboured amidst untold difficulties and discouragements, and it is not surprising that, their hearts becoming downcast and depressed, their ardour declined and their zeal languished. They needed stimulus; they required some message from the Lord their God declarative of his will and purpose; and this need was supplied, for they heard "a voice from heaven" speaking unto them through Haggai and Zechariah (Haggai 1:1, 2; Zechariah 1:1). In every age God has communicated his will and intention through the instrumentality of man. He has made holy men, full of human sympathies, the medium of Communicating his purposes. His agents in this instance, as ever, were admirably chosen. Haggai was advanced in life; he had probably seen the former temple; he was a link connecting the old with the new, and brought to bear upon the difficulties of the times a ripened and matured experience; whilst Zechariah was young, and with all the enthusiasm and warmth of youth. They worked together in perfect harmony and for the common good, their prophecies being at times admirably interwoven. There are two elements in the Bible - the Divine and the human. God speaks to us in every page, and he does so all the more emphatically, in that he addresses us through men who possessed throbbing hearts and who passed through experiences like our own.

III. THE RAISING UP IN THE ORDER OF PROVIDENCE OF EFFICIENT LEADERS TO DIRECT GREAT MOVEMENTS. "The word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, Governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josadech, the high priest (ver. 1). Zerubbabel, of royal descent from David, and Joshua, who was in the priestly line, had secured the confidence and esteem of the Jewish community in the land of captivity; and the former had won the regard of Cyrus, the Persian monarch; so that when the time for the return came, leaders, esteemed alike by the Jews and their foreign rulers, were prepared to guide the movement and to carry it through successfully. God's work shall never fail through lack of suitable agents to do his bidding, but he will raise up a bright succession of leal-hearted men to carry on his cause, until the ruin and desolation wrought by sin has been completely repaired, and the topstone of the temple of redeemed humanity be brought forth" amidst rapturous praise. - S.D.H.

In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, Governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built." Haggai is the first of the three prophets who lived and taught after the restoration t the Jews from the Babylonian captivity. It is generally supposed that he returned with the Hebrew exiles under Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest, in the year B.C. 536. He prophesied in the reign of Darius Hystaspes, who ascended the Persian throne s.c. 521. He and Zechariah were employed by Jehovah to excite and encourage the Jews to the rebuilding of the temple. This book consists of four messages, which were delivered in three months of the year B.C. 620, and all refer to the work of temple restoration. His style, being somewhat interrogatory, has much vigour and vehe mence. The grand subject of this whole chapter is duty - duty revealed, duty postponed, duty vindicated. Those two verses direct us to the revelation of duty. Here we have:

1. The time of its revelation. Every duty has its time, every true work has its hour. Woe to us if that hour is neglected!

2. The organ of its revelation. "Came the word of the Lord by Haggai. God speaks to humanity through individual men whom in sovereignty he appoints. In all ages there are certain great men through whom God speaks to the world. They are his messengers.

3. The order of its revelation. Haggai had to deliver the message to men nearest to him, with whom he was most identified, and the men, too, who had the most power in influencing others. To the greatest man in the state, Zerubbabel; to the greatest man in the Church, Joshua. I make two remarks as suggested by this subject.

I. DUTY IS THE BURDEN OF DIVINE REVELATION. The great purpose of Haggai's mission was, in the name of God, to urge his countrymen to the fulfilment of a work which was morally incumbent on them, viz. the rebuilding of the temple. It was the purpose of God that the temple should be rebuilt, and he required the Jews to do that work. He could have restored the structure by a miracle or by the hands of others; but he imposed the building of it on the Jewish people for reasons best known to himself. What was the burden of Haggai's mission is in truth the burden of the whole Divine revelation - duty. It contains, it is true, histories of facts, effusions of poetry, discussions of doctrine; but the grand all-pervading substance of the whole is duty; its grand voice teaches, not merely to believe and feel, but to do; it regards faith and feeling as worthless unless taken up and embodied in the right act. It presents the rule of duty, it supplies the helps to duty, it urges the motives to duty. This fact shows two things.

1. That the Bible studies the real well bring of man. According to our constitution, our strength, dignity, and blessedness consist, not merely in our ideas and emotions, but in our settled character. But what is character? Not an assemblage of beliefs and emotions, but an assemblage of acts add habits.

2. That unpractised religion is spurious. There is the religion of creed, of sentimentality, of sacerdotalism, of routine. These are all spurious; it is the doer of the Word that is blessed; it is the doer of the Divine will that God approves. "Every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not," etc. (Matthew 7:26).

II. DUTY IS INCREASED BY SOCIAL ELEVATION. This is implied in the circumstance that Haggai went directly with the message from God to the most influential men in the state, to "Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, Governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest." The former was one of the head men in the state, the commander-in-chief at the head of the Jews in their return from their captivity in Babylon; the latter was the head man in the Church, he was the high priest. It was the duty of all the Jews to set to the work; but the obligation of these men, on account of their high position, had an increased force. These men had greater opportunities of knowing the Divine will, and greater facilities for carrying it out. The influence of men in high position is a great talent that God requires to be used. This fact serves two purposes.

1. To supply a warning to men in high places. The man who is in a high position, and disregards his great responsibilities, is more an object of pity than envy. "Unto whom much is given, of him much will be required." Elevated positions in life invest men with an immense social power - power which God intended to bless, but which is often used to curse men.

2. A lesson to ministers. Let the ambassadors of Heaven carry their messages first, if possible, to men in authority. Do not be afraid; none need your message more; none, if they receive it in faith, can render you better assistance in the great work of spiritual reformation. It is common to lecture the poor on duty. How seldom the Divine voice of duty is made to ring into the hearts of men in authority and power! - D.T.

This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built. There are several ways of accounting for the delay which occurred in the work of re-erecting the temple in Jerusalem.

1. In part it arose from the returned exiles being preoccupied in seeking to secure to themselves material prosperity.

2. Then they were daunted by the opposition they had to encounter as they engaged in this work. The powerful neighbouring tribes, being alike antagonistic to the restoration of Jerusalem as the centre of the pure and unadulterated worship of God, combined to place obstacles in the way of the repairers of the breaches.

3. Further, they had grown somewhat accustomed to being without the structure. Comparatively few of them had seen "the first house."

4. It is to be feared also that they had lost, through the changes they had experienced, that strong sense of the need of the Divine abiding presence in their midst. Influenced by such considerations as these, and forgetful that "good is best when soonest wrought," they kept postponing carrying out the great undertaking to which they had pledged themselves, and excused themselves by saying, "The time is not come," etc. (ver. 2). This habit of delay is far too general, and is not limited to any age or race. It prevails widely today as in all past times; and in no respect more so than in matters affecting man's relation to God. Time was when man was wholly devoted to his Maker's praise. God formed him in his own image, holy, spotless, pure; but he mournfully fell. He who had been the temple of God became a moral waste. "Ichabod" became inscribed upon the once consecrated spiritual man.. Every power of the soul became corrupt, every propensity became drawn to that which is evil. "The gold became dim, and the most fine gold changed." And the voice of God calls us to the glorious work of rebuilding tills temple. He has presented to us, in the perfect life of his own Son, the pattern after which we should seek to raise in ourselves the superstructure of a holy life, and offers us his gracious aid so that we may build into our character the noble materials of truth and virtue, wisdom and love. And it is just at this point that the temptation to delay meets men.

1. They are not insensible to the claims of God, nor are they altogether indifferent about attending to these, but they say, "The time is not come," etc. (ver. 3).

2. They are immersed in other matters at present:

(1) the cares of the world;

(2) the pursuit of riches;

(3) the pleasures of life, absorb them; they are preoccupied just now; they say, "The time is not come" (ver. 3).

3. They reason that there is the whole future yet before them, and that ample opportunity will be given them in due course. So they go on robbing themselves of "aspirations high and deathless hopes sublime."

"Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene." S.D.H.

It must not be supposed that, for purposes of revelation, there was any suspension of the powers of the men who were honored of God in being the medium of communicating a knowledge of his will; rather there was the retention of their own individual peculiarities and natural gifts, the Divine Spirit operating through these, and turning them to the most profitable account. One beauty of the Bible lies in the fact that, whilst upon the writings of each of its contributors there is unmistakably the impress of the operation of the Spirit of God, there is likewise throughout the whole clear indications of the preservation of those natural endowments which the respective writers possessed, and hence the remarkable variety in style and form of presentation meeting us in the Holy Word, and which constitutes one great charm of the volume. Viewing this particular book of Scripture from this human standpoint, biblical writers have described it as being inferior in respect of literary merit as compared with other prophetical writings; and it must be granted that we find lacking here "the poetical swing" and "the finished beauty" characteristic of "the curlier prophetical diction." The circumstances, however, under which he gave utterance to his message will account for this. It did not devolve upon him to any extent, as it had done upon his predecessors, to make prophetic announcements concerning the future age; his simple mission was to stimulate and stir a lethargic people to renewed action, to reprove them for their neglect of solemn duty, and to impel them to fulfil their trust. And whatever there may be lacking here of poetic genius, the picture presented to us of this noble-hearted man standing "in grey-haired might" amidst the ruins of Jerusalem, and, strong in conviction that the favour and blessing of Jehovah was the great essential in order to the happiness of his people, urging them to knowledge him in all their ways, and without further delay to rear his sanctuary, is one truly beautiful, and which we could have ill spared from these holy records. Consider his stirring appeal.

I. HIS SUMMONS TO REFLECTION. "Consider your ways" (vers. 5, 7); i.e. "Set your heart upon your ways" - your conduct, actions, designs, purposes. Thoughtlessness is the source of so much evil. Men do not always intend to do wrong or to fail in respect of duty, but they do not "give heed." They allow their minds to wander into other courses, and to be preoccupied with other matters.

"Evil is wrought by want of thought,
As well as want of heart." It is in view of men's highest interests, then, that God by his providential dealings, or the ministry of his servants, or the inward voice of conscience, says to them at times, "Consider your ways." We should consider:

1. Whether our ways are true and right.

2. How they stand affected to the claims which God has upon us.

3. The motives by which we are being influenced.

4. The results to which our actions are tending, whether the sowing is such as will yield a harvest of good.

The momentous importance of the admonition is seen in its repetition here. Man is wondrously free. He can choose good or evil. This freedom increases his responsibility, and the sense of this should lead to frequent self-examination. "Let each man prove his own work" (Galatians 6:4).

II. THE WEIGHTY CONSIDERATIONS HE URGED UPON THEIR ARRESTED ATTENTION. Their great excuse for the unwarrantable delay which had taken place in the work of the temple was the hardness of the times; and in his stimulating address Haggai kept this excuse before his mind, and completely exposed to them its hollowness and swept it away by setting before them two important facts.

1. He brought home to them a sense of their own inconsistency. Hard though the times were, the fact remained that in these hard times they had built for themselves durable dwellings, and had enriched these with costly adornments; and surely if they could do all this for themselves, they might have done something by way of proceeding with the erection of the house of the Lord (ver. 4). Clearly they had lacked not so much the ability as the disposition to do their duty.

2. Admitting the severity of the times, Haggai pointed out that the way in which to have improved these would have been by their discharging more faithfully their duty to their God. In vivid language he described the depressed state of things then prevailing (ver. 6), but his contention was that God had visited them with such adverse experiences in retribution. They had forgotten his claims, and had selfishly cared only for their own interests; and lie, knowing their hearts and observing their ways, had withheld from them the dews of heaven, and had caused drought to prevail, that by failure and loss they might be led to reflection and to a truer and more devoted life (vers. 9-11). When the times are hard - trade slack and commercial depression prevailing - men too often begin retrenchment by withholding from God his due, and long before they sacrifice a single luxury of life will they plead inability to sustain his cause. Wiser far would it be for them to give full recognition to him and to his claims, and, whilst thus honouring him, to look to him for his blessing and the renewal of the temporal blessings of his providence.

III. THE PROMPT ACTION, IN VIEW OF THESE THOUGHTS, UPON WHICH HE SO STRONGLY INSISTED. "Go up to the mountain," etc. (ver. 8). This stirring appeal of the prophet was made on "the sixth month, in the first day of the month" (ver. 1), i.e. the new moon's day. That day was a special day amongst the people. A festal sacrifice was offered (Numbers 28:11-15), and a solemn assembly of the people at the sanctuary took place (Isaiah 1:13; 2 Kings 4:23). On this occasion, therefore, we may suppose the people as gathered together on the site of the temple, the bare foundations of which silently testified against their inertness, and the prophet appearing amongst them, addressing words of stem reproof to them, and then bidding them without longer delay go to the mountains and fetch the cedars, and build forthwith the house for God. Such he declared to be the will of God, obedience to which, on their part, would yield pleasure to the Most High, and bring glory to his Name, and would result in the promotion of their own temporal and spiritual well being (ver. 8). - S.D.H.

Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your celled houses, and this house lie waste. The seventy years of the Babylonian captivity had passed away. The Babylonian empire had fallen; and Cyrus, the founder of the Persian empire, gave the Jews permission to return to their land, slid commanded them to rebuild the temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem. Hence fifty thousand captives, with their menservants and maidservants, went forth, led by Zerubbabel and by the high priest Joshua, to their own lands. Forthwith on their arrival they commenced restoring the altar of burnt offering and re-establishing. the sacrifical worship, and began to lay the foundation of the new temple. The Samaritans speedily inferrered and impeded their progress. Because the chiefs of Judah would not accept their cooperation in the undertaking they set themselves to the work of obstruction. They made the hand of the people of Judah idle, as we read, in frightening them while building, and hiring counsellors against them to frustrate their design, so that the work at the house of God at Jerusalem ceased and was suspended until the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia (Ezra 4:24). Hereupon the zeal of the Jews so cooled down that they relinquished the work altogether, and simply began to provide for their own necessities and to build their own houses, Hence Heaven employs Haggai to rouse them, again, from their, wickedness. The subject of verses is the adjournment of duty The time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built. They do not question the desirableness or the obligation of the work. This indeed seems to be assumed. During the Captivity, we are told elsewhere that they. hanged their harps upon the willows, and wept when they remembered Zion." Often, perhaps, in those circumstances did they resolve, should they ever be restored, to rebuild that temple which was the glory of the land; but now that they are there on the spot, and the ruins lying before them, their ardour is cooled, and they say, "The time is not come." We see three evils coming out here, which, perhaps, are always connected with the adjourment of duty,

I. COWARDICE. They did not say," We will not build the temple, we Will leave it to remain in ruins;" they were too cowardly for that, Their consciences rendered them incapable of making, such a decision. Men who neglect duty are too cowardly to say, "We will never attend to it, we will never study the Scriptures, worship God."

1. Sin is cowardice.

2. Sin is cowardice because conscience, the truly heroic element, is ever against it.

II. SELFISHNESS. What was it that prompted them to adjorn this duty? The answer is at hand, Selfishness. "Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?" They set to work for their own private interests. Virtually they said, "We must build houses for ourselves first, for all is in ruin about us; we must cultivate our own land first; we must attend to our own business, and after all that is completed we will see to the temple."

1. Selfishness is a perversion of self-love.

2. Selfishness is fatal to self-interest.

III. PRESUMPTION. "The time is not come." How did they know that? Were they judges of time and seasons? Had they the hardihood to suppose that circumstances can set aside or modify our obligations? "Go to, now, ye that say, Today and tomorrow" (James 4:13).

1. Such presumption is always guilty. It implies that we know better than our Maker about times and season.

2. Such presumption is always perilous. It treads upon an awful precipice. - D.T. They were selfish motives that brought secular disasters to the Jews now. The verses teach us that duty is vindicated by the Divine government. We offer two remarks here.

I. THAT THE DIVINE GOVERNMENT RECOGNIZES THE SELFISH MOTIVES THAT ACTUATE MEN. Men are governed in everything by motive. Motive is the mainspring that keeps the world in action; motive is the fountain from which all the streams of life proceed; motive is the germ from which springs every branch and leaf of the great tree of character. We judge each other from appearance; God, from motives. God sees theft, blasphemy, and all other crimes where they have never been expressed in words or acts. This Divine inspection of motives argues three things.

1. The necessity of moral reformation in the world. If all pertaining to human life springs from motive, and the motives of the world are depraved, then the grand necessity of the world is reformation. Knowledge, civilization, refinement, social older, mercantile prosperity, wholesome legislation, - these will be of no real service where the motives are bad. Hence the great Reformer has said, "Ye must be born again." To accomplish this reformation is the great aim of the gospel. It is the fire to burn up false motives, it is the axe to strike the upas at the roots.

2. The necessity for attending more to the spiritual than the formal in the Church. It is not conformity to standards of faith, however scriptural, attention to rituals, however aesthetic and impressive, the repetition of prayers, however beautiful in language, devout in sentiment, and correct in doctrine; it is not, in fact, in any externalism that religion consists or that God delights; it is in holy motive. "Neither circumcision.., nor uncircumcision," etc. (Galatians 5:6). In all true worship man is at once the temple, the sacrifice, and the priest. When will the time come that men shall regard the Church, not as a piece of timber carved into certain forms by the hand of art, remaining the same from age to age, but as a living tree, working itself by the power of its own life into living forms with every season that passes, over it?

3. The possibility of solemn disclosures on the last day. Here men conceal their real hearts from each other. We only know each other after the flesh. Sometimes here Providence takes off the mask from those whom we thought friends, and we recoil from their hideousness with horror. At the last day all will be uncovered. "The hidden things of darkness will be brought to light" (1 Corinthians 4:5). What a revelation on that day!

II. THAT THE DIVINE GOVERNOR AVENGES THE SELFISH MOTIVES OF ACTION. "Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little." The passage shows two ways in which God opposes the labour of selfish men.

1. He neutralizes the results of their labour. "I will blow upon it." The man may realize the means which he thought would make him happy; God will hinder it from doing so. One selfish man may get wealth in abundance; another may acquire vast treasures of knowledge; another, immense power in society; yet in all cases there may be unhappiness, because God "blows" upon the whole. In fact, nothing can make a selfish man happy.

2. He renders ineffective the materials of their labour. Labour always employs three things - agent, instrument, and materials. The materials of labour are here specified - "light," "air," "water," "earth." On these men operate. Out of these we weave our clothing, of them we construct our dwellings. God acts upon these and renders them all ineffective for happiness. "Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land."

(1) God directs the universe; not necessity, not chance.

(2) God directs the universe for mind.

(3) God directs the universe so as to meet the state of every heart. "To the pure all things are pure." - D.T.

The temple was designed to be the centre of hallowed influence to the Jewish nation. It was the recognized dwelling place of God, the shrine where, in bright symbol, his glory, was specially revealed. The pious Jew rejoiced to repair to it, and wherever his lot might be cast he looked towards it with ardent and longing desire. The desecration of it by the introduction of idolatrous practices into its courts had materially contributed to the nation's collapse. It was of the utmost importance, therefore, that the work of its restoration should be pressed forward with all zest, now that the captives bad been permitted to return, and at first it seemed as though this course would have been pursued, but unhappily they soon allowed their zeal to flag, and year after year passed by and nothing was done. The house of the Lord lay "waste." The Divine Teacher, when he came to usher in a new dispensation, declared that God is a Spirit, and is to be worshipped "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23, 24). He taught that place has but little to do with worship, and that there is no spot we may not consecrate by our praises and prayers, and render to us "hallowed ground." Still, he constantly resorted to the temple, and we read of his apostles how that they went up to the temple "at the hour of prayer" (Acts 3:1). The erection and maintenance of Christian sanctuaries is most thoroughly in harmony with his will, and is calculated to promote the truest interests of the race. Close all such sanctuaries, and

(1) good men would be left to sigh for the holy fellowship they had lost;

(2) spiritual darkness would steal over the land;

(3) the streams of true benevolence would rapidly diminish;

(4) men in general, losing sight of the common relationship they sustain to the Eternal, would also overlook the interest they ought to feel in each other's weal;

(5) iniquity would pass unreproved, and vice unchecked. As lovers of God, our country, and our fellow men, we do well to sustain Christian sanctuaries, and not to allow them to "lie waste." Notice, "the house of the Lord" may "lie waste" -

1. IN THE SENSE OF THE MATERIAL STRUCTURE BEING NEGLECTED. There should be correspondence in respect of beauty and adornment, comfort and cleanliness, between the houses in which we live and the sanctuary in which we meet for worship, and where this is lacking, the want indicates a wrong state of mind and heart.

II. IN THE SENSE OF ITS PECUNIARY RESOURCES BEING OVERLOOKED, AND THERE BEING THUS STRAITNESS IN RESPECT TO MEETING THE EXPENSES NECESSARILY INCURRED IN ITS MAINTENANCE. Giving should be regarded as an act of worship. "Bring an offering, and come into his courts" (Psalm 96:8). Contributions for the maintenance of the worship of God ought not to be regarded in the light of charitable gifts, but as the discharge of bounden obligation.

III. IN THE SENSE OF ITS SEATS BEING UNOCCUPIED. There is far too much of "waste" in this respect. The growing habit of attending only one of the services on the sabbath, and none during the week days, needs to be checked Personal influence should be brought more to bear upon the inhabitants of a locality with a view to securing their presence. "Come, let us go up to the house of the Lord" (Psalm 122:1).

IV. IN THE SENSE OF THE EXERCISES CONDUCTED THEREIN BEING MARKED BY BALDNESS AND INEFFICIENCY. The services should be marked by culture, variety, heart; the worshippers should throw their whole souls into all its engagements, and render each part of the service "heartily" and as "unto the Lord."

V. IN THE SENSE OF PAUCITY OF SPIRITUAL RESULTS. With a view to the prevention of this, let us "pray for Jerusalem," that its services may yield comfort to the mourning and guidance to the perplexed, and that through these the cold in heart may regain the fervour of their "first love," and "the dead in trespasses and sins" be quickened to a new and heavenly life. "Save now, O Lord; O Lord, we beseech thee send us now prosperity" (Psalm 118:25); "Repair the waste places of Zion" (Isaiah 58:12); "Build thou the walls of Jerusalem" (Psalm 51:18). - S.D.H.

The human spirit is so backward in respect to the performance of the duties and the fulfilment of the obligations it is under in relation to the higher life, that it requires stimulus, and acts of renewed dedication to the service of God cannot fail to be spiritually helpful. There are moments in life when we become specially impressed as God's servants with a sense of his claims to our most devoted service, and when holy emotions rise within us, moving us to a more unreserved consecration of ourselves to his service. And we do well to make these impressions permanent by placing upon them the stamp of holy. resolution. It is wonderful how soon, if we do not take this course, these impressions and emotions vanish. We should therefore foster all holy impulses, and take advantage at once of all emotions and aspirations which would constrain us to render to the Lord our God a truer service than we have rendered in the past. Such impressions are buds we should not nip, sparks of heavenly fire we should not extinguish, the breathings of God's own Spirit, from the influence of which it is at our peril that we remove ourselves. The interest in these closing verses (12-15) lies in that they present to us a bright example of this wise course being pursued. The earnest address of the aged seer touched the hearts of his hearers; they became painfully conscious of past omission and shortcoming and neglect of duty, and were led to consecrate themselves anew to the service of him who had brought them up out of captivity and to their own land.


1. It was the spirit of obedience. "They obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet" (ver. 12).

2. It was the spirit of reverential fear. "And the people did fear before the Lord" (ver. 12). "Whom God would make strong for his service he first subdues to his fear."

3. This obedient and devout spirit was cherished by all. Zerubbabel the governor, Joshua the high priest, and all the remnant of the people alike made this full surrender of themselves to the service of their God (ver. 14).


1. The Divine favour was experienced. Haggai was again commissioned to speak to them in the name of the Lord, and to say to them for God, as his messenger, "I am with you, saith the Lord" (ver. 13). The abiding sense of God's presence with them had made the heroes of their nation the men they were. Moses could face the whole Israelitish tribes when they were murmuring against him and against Aaron; David could confront the mail-clad Goliath; Daniel could be steadfast in the performance of his religions duties despite the lions; Ezekiel could utter burning denunciations against ungodly nations; - because they realized in their inmost hearts the consciousness of the presence and power of God. And now this same presence was pledged to them, and in the Divine might they would be able to overcome every obstacle. The promptness with which this assurance was given is instructive. "God is waiting to be gracious, and will meet the returning wanderer even before his hand has begun the work of service."

2. The spiritual life was quickened. "The Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel," etc. (ver 14). He gave new life to them all, so that they were ready with zeal and alacrity and with holy courage to do his bidding.

3. The good work was advanced. "And they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God" (ver. 14) - S.D.H.

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