Haggai 2

The Word Made Fresh

1On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the LORD’s word came by the prophet Haggai, and told him to 2speak to the governor, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak, and to the people who remained:

3“Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, along with the people who remain. Ask them, 3‘Is anyone left among you that saw the LORD’s house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Like nothing?’ 4But now,” says the LORD, “is the time to be encouraged, Zerubbabel. Now is the time to take courage, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. And all of you who live in the land, now is the time to have courage, for I am the LORD Almighty, and I am with you 5just as I promised when I brought you out of Egypt. Don’t be afraid; my spirit is with you.”

6The LORD Almighty says, “Once again, and it won’t be long, I will shake the sky and the earth and the sea around the dry land. 7And I will shake the nations so that their treasures will come. I will fill this house with majesty. 8The silver and gold belong to me, 9and this house will be more majestic than the old one, and I will bring prosperity to this land.”

10In the second year of Darius’ reign, on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, the LORD’s word came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 11 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ask the priests to make a ruling. 12If someone has meat that has been blessed, and carries it in the fold of their garment, and then touches bread or soup or wine or oil or anything to eat, will it become spiritually pure?”

The priests answered, “No.”

13Then Haggai said, “If anyone who touches a dead body, then touches any of these things, do they become impure?”

The priests answered, “Yes, they are rendered impure.”

14Then Haggai said, “The LORD says that’s the way it is with the people here and the whole nation around. Everything they make and offer is impure. 15But now think of what is about to happen: before you even placed one stone upon another for the LORD’s temple, 16what was your situation? Whenever you thought there were twenty stones in a heap, there were only ten. Whenever you went to draw fifty gallons of wine there were only twenty.” 17The LORD says, “I saw to it that everything you worked to gain was cheapened by blight and mildew and hail, but you didn’t return to me. 18But now look, since the day the foundation of my temple was laid on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, 19is any grain left in the barn? Do the grape vine and the fig tree and the pomegranate bush and the olive tree still bear nothing? From this day on I will bless you.”

20The LORD’s word came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month. 21“Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I am about to shake the heavens and the earth. 22I will overthrow thrones in the national capitals. I will destroy their power and defeat their chariots and riders. The horses will fall with their riders, each one a victim of the sword of a comrade. 23On that very day I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and appoint you as my personal authority. I have chosen you,” says the LORD Almighty.


1-9: The date works out according to our calendar today to be October 17th. They have been building for nearly a month, and apparently without much progress for some of the older ones who remember the temple of Solomon have been complaining that the new temple just doesn’t measure up. God sees that the time has come to offer some encouragement and sends it through Haggai. Don’t worry about the lack of silver and gold, he tells them, because silver and gold belong to God and in time God will provide.

10-19: We skip forward two months. The people are again discouraged. The foundation is laid, and still the people struggle with bare subsistence in the land. Haggai uses an interesting comparison. In their minds a thing could be in one of three conditions; holy, common, or unclean. If the holy touched the common it did not render the common holy; but if the unclean touched the common it rendered the common unclean. Therefore, the people being unclean, all they have to offer becomes unclean. Haggai seems to think this explains why they are still suffering shortages of grain and fruit and wine. But God is about to turn that order of things on its ear; from that day on they will be blessed, God promises.

20-23: We never learn whether that prophecy is fulfilled. Haggai’s narrative ends with a word of special encouragement to Zerubbabel that he is indeed the one God has chosen to lead them.


God acts, but seldom in a hurry, which can be frustrating to us when we’re facing difficulties. Life is a complex, many-faceted endeavor. That is why patience is a virtue. God always comes through, but in God’s time, not necessarily in ours.