- Locate the passage
This is Haggai’s second message. It is delivered on October 17, 520 BC, less than one month after the work of rebuilding the temple began.
Hortatory oracle of blessing introduced by narrative prose
- Determine the structure of the passage
(v. 1) Narrative setting and introduction
(v. 2) God’s instructions concerning the message Haggai is to deliver
(v. 3-9) God’s message for Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people
(v. 3) God asks three questions
(v. 4-5) God’s gives three commands
Be strong (Zerubbabel, Joshua, and people)
For I am with you . . .
According to the covenant . . .
My Spirit remains in your midst
(v. 6-9) God promises greater glory and peace for His temple
- Exegete the passage
The problem the people are facing is discouragement. The people in their 70’s could remember Solomon’s temple that had been destroyed 66 years earlier. Now that they are three weeks into the rebuilding effort it has become clear to them that the rebuilt temple is going to be far inferior to the temple they once knew. God responds to their discouragement with a word of encouragement.
Notice “yet now” in (v. 4). A clear call to move from past reflection to present action. The people were looking backwards. God now calls them to look forwards with three commands. “Be strong” is emphasized via repetition. “Work” is reinforced with the reminder that God is with them in the present as He’s been with them in the past. By the time “fear not” comes it is as if there is an implied “therefore” preceding it.
God has already supplied warrants from the past and present for His commands to be strong, work, and fear not. Yet now, God turns in (v. 6-9) to give warrant from what He’s going to do in the future. The people should not worry about any lack of splendor regarding the rebuilt temple. The Lord is the Lord of Hosts and all resources are at His disposal. One day He will shake the heavens, earth, sea, dry land, and nations for the sake of the glory of His temple. All resources of heaven and earth belong to Him! In fact, the future glory is going to be even better than the former! A promise that will find its ultimate fulfillment in and through the work of Christ.
- Let the structure of the text drive the sermon
I. Narrative setting and introduction (v. 1-2)
II. God asks three questions to address the problem (v. 3)
a. Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? (v. 3a)
b. How do you see it now? (v. 3b)
c. Is it not as nothing in your eyes (v. 3c)
III. God gives three commands in response to the problem (v. 4-5)
a. Be Strong (v. 4)
b. Work (v. 4b-5)
c. Fear Not (v. 5b)
IV. God makes three promises to eliminate the problem (v. 6-9)
a. I will shake the heavens, the earth, the sea, the dry land, and the nations (v. 6-8)
b. The latter Glory of this house will be greater than the former (v. 9a)
c. In this place I will give peace (v. 9b)