Rebuilding the Temple
Forecast of the Glorious Temple Yet to Be
The first step, after returning from the Captivity, for the Jews, in the restoration of their national life in their homeland, was the rebuilding of the Temple.
Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
These three Prophets belonged to the period after Return from Captivity, the period told about in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther.
Haggai and Zechariah aided in building the Temple (520-516 B.C.). Malachi is thought to have been associated with Nehemiah nearly 100 years later, in rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem.
Chronology of the Period
536 B.c. 50,000 Jews, under Zerubbabel, return to Jerusalem.
536 B.C. 7th month, they build the Altar, and offer sacrifice.
535 B.C. 2nd month, work on Temple begins, and is stopped.
520 B.C. 6th month (September), 1st day, Haggai's Call to Build.
6th month, 24th day, Building Begins.
7th month (October), 21st day, Haggai's 2nd Appeal.
8th month (November), Zechariah's Opening Address.
9th month (December), 24th day, Haggai's 3rd and 4th.
11th month (February), 24th day, Zechariah's Vision.
518 B.C. 9th month (December), 4th day, Zechariah's Visions.
516 B.C. 12th month (March), 3rd day, the Temple is completed.
515 B.C. 1st month (Abril), 14th-21st days, Joyful Passover.
457 B.C. Ezra comes to Jerusalem, and makes certain reforms.
444 B.C. Nehemiah Rebuilds the Wall. Period of Malachi.
Haggai and His Book
Haggai may have been an old man who had seen the first Temple (2:3)?. His book is composed of four brief discourses.
Judah had been conquered, Jerusalem burned, the Temple demolished, and the people carried away to Babylon (606-586 B.C., as told in 2 Kings 24, 25). After 70 years Captivity, about 50,000 Jews, by the edict of king Cyrus, had returned to their own land (536 B.C.), and had begun to rebuild the Temple. But ere they had laid the foundation the work was stopped by their enemy neighbors.
Nothing further was done for 15 years. Meantime a new king, Darius, had ascended the Persian throne. He was kindly disposed toward the Jews. And, under the direct preaching of Haggai and Zechariah, work was resumed and the Temple completed in four years (520-516 B.C.). The Wall of Jerusalem was built about 70 years later by Nehemiah.
Chapter 1. Work on the Temple Begins
15 years earlier the foundation of the Temple had been laid (Ezra 3:10). But meantime nothing more had been done. The people had lost interest. God, speaking through Haggai, informs them that this was the reason for their poor crops. One of the most insistent Old Testament teaching is that National Adversity is due to National Disobedience to God.
Haggai's message had immediate effect. People accepted it as God's word, and within 24 days work was under way.
Chapter 2. Future Glory of God's House
Within another 27 days the old foundation had been cleared and reared sufficiently to reveal the outline of the building. Then Haggai came forward with his vision of the Temple's Future beside whose Glory Solomon's Temple itself would pale into insignificance.
This is distinctly a Messianic vision. Haggai's mind was on that Temple, which he was helping Zerubbabel to build. But his words were God's words; and God's mind, in a sense deeper perhaps than even Haggai himself realized, was on Another Temple, yet to be, of which Solomon's Temple and Zerubbabel's Temple were but dim pictures: the Church, built not of stones, but of Souls of the Redeemed. The Church, of Fedeless, Endless, Ineffable Glory, the Consummation of all God's wondrous works, is the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21), of which Haggai here dreamed.
"Shake the heavens and the earth" (6, 7). Though this may have has immediate reference to political convulsions, it is quoted in Hebrew 12:26 as the fading of earthly things in the dawn of Heaven's Eternal Kingdom.
"The desire of all nations" (7), may refer to the Messiah. Or, more likely, as RV, "precious things of all nations," which would go into the construction of God;s House, that is, precious Souls saved by the Messiah.
It was mid-winter (10). The earth had not yet had time to bear its crops. But the people had stirred themselves, and had put their hands to the task of building God's House; and God promises that henceforth their crops would be sure.
Haggai closes with a vision of Zerubbabel's crowning day. Zerubbabel represented David's Family (see under Zechariah 4).