1In the second year of Darius the king, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying,
2"Thus says the LORD of hosts, 'This people says, "The time has not come, even the time for the house of the LORD to be rebuilt."'"
Haggai ministered as a prophet of the Lord during the time of the Jews’ captivity in Persia. God gave him a message to give to Zerubbabel, the civil leader whom God has chosen to lead the work of rebuilding the temple, and to Joshua, the religious leader of the people. Persia had given the Jews freedom to worship and govern their own affairs, more or less, but they remained more interested in hoarding things for themselves rather than in building a house for the Lord. The people kept saying that the time had not yet come for them to rebuild them temple, but God had other desires.
3Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying,
4"Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?"
5Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, "Consider your ways!
6"You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes."
7Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Consider your ways!
8"Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified," says the LORD.
God’s house lay desolate while the people lived in paneled houses. God rebukes them and challenges them to consider their ways, which He obviously views as being in error. The people live in difficult economic conditions, ultimately as a result of their sin against God. They work hard to plant crops, but the harvest is meager. They don’t have much to drink, and their wages go into purses with holes. They don’t even have enough clothing to keep warm when it is cool. Yet they ignore God in their time of need, and God calls to them through Haggai to change their ways. God gives them direction to go get wood from the mountains so that they can rebuild the temple. He is not asking for the glorious temple of Solomon’s time but a mere house of wood. It is the people’s hearts that He is interested in. He knows that they don’t have much, but He wants them to give from what they have so as to demonstrate their faith and reverence for Him.
9"You look for much, but behold, it comes to little; when you bring it home, I blow it away Why?" declares the LORD of hosts, "Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house.
10"Therefore, because of you the sky has withheld its dew and the earth has withheld its produce.
11"I called for a drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on what the ground produces, on men, on cattle, and on all the labor of your hands."
God explains that He is behind the poor economic conditions and the difficult conditions for growing crops. He is not blessing them with rain and produce, but He has cursed the land, the cattle, the people, and their provisions, even all the work of their hands. This is because He loves them and recognizes that they need to repent and worship Him. He has been merciful to them even in their captivity, yet still they ignore the One Who has preserved them. Each of the people had a house, but God didn’t have a house. This needed to change.
12Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him And the people showed reverence for the LORD.
13Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke by the commission of the LORD to the people saying, " 'I am with you,' declares the LORD."
God had given the people direction, and finally they listened. The leaders of the people along with the rest of the people obeyed God and His Word, thereby showing reverence and respect for the authority of God. Their fear of the Lord led them to act wisely (Proverbs 1:7). The Lord through Haggai (who is emphasized as the messenger of the Lord and commissioned of the Lord, which gives gravity to what He says as being the very Word of the Lord and indeed a true prophet of God) says that He is with the people, implying that He will help them with the task and that He will bless them as a result of their obedience. His favor is once again with the people. This demonstrates His merciful nature and His patience and lovingkindness toward Israel and to all His children.
14So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God,
15on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month in the second year of Darius the king.
God had first spoken through Haggai on the first of the month, and now it was the twenty-fourth of the month. It took the people twenty-four days to obey, but still God delighted in seeing them repent. He is indeed very merciful and patient. Once the people agreed to have faith, God moved in their spirits to have strength to get to the task at hand. All God asks of us is that we trust Him and revere Him. He will enable and strengthen. As He told to Zerubbabel in Zechariah 4:6, “Then he said to me, ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of hosts.’” It is by the power of God that the work of God is accomplished as the people of God put their faith in God.