Haggai 1:1-2. 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.
God keeps an almanac, and the date on which he speaks is always important. There is a set time for each of his messages to come to men, and God would have them give heed to every message as soon as it is delivered to them. If they do not, he keeps count of the days of their delay; and therefore he is particular in causing his servants to record the exact date when his message was delivered: “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.” Oh that God would make this very day notable in our history by speaking to the hearts of many here! Notice, too, that God also takes care to direct his messages to those for whom they are intended. The word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel and to Joshua. God knows to whom his message is specially addressed today, and he will not let it miss its mark. Oh, that someone here would cry unto him, and say, “Lord, speak to me, as thou didst to Zerubbabel; and not to me only, but to such-and-such another, as thou didst to Joshua.” “Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say.” So that the Lord notes what people say, and in due time he reminds them of what they have said. Sometimes, he makes men eat their own words; but, if not, he at least recalls them to their remembrance: “This people say, The time is not come, the time that Jehovah’s house should be built.” Delay has always been one of the strongest of Satan’s temptations even with God’s own people, who far too often say, even concerning his work which they know ought to be done, “The time is not come.” How much more would be done for God if we would all do at once what ought to be done! We could then go on to something else, and make our lives still more useful and fruitful. But we delay so long the carrying out of one good purpose that there remains no opportunity for another. If any of you Christian people are tempted to put off some service for God which lies upon your heart, I pray you to remember your Lord’s words, and to imitate his prompt action, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.”
Haggai 1:3-4. Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?
“There seems to be time enough for you to enjoy the luxuries of life, but not time for you to rebuild the temple of the Lord; time enough for you to get rich, but not time for you to serve God; time enough for you to spend your labour upon anything for yourself, but not upon the house of your God!” What a rebuke was this to those who professed to be the Lord’s people!
Haggai 1:5. Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; consider your ways.
“Just look back a little, and see what have already been the consequences of looking to yourselves, and not to your God; have you gained anything by so acting?
Haggai 1:6. Ye have sown much, and bring in little;
“You have sown much to yourselves, but little to God; what has your sowing brought in to you?”
Haggai 1:6. Ye eat, but ye have not enough;
“Those of you who do seem to prosper are not content with what you have. Peace of mind does not come with it; you are not happy.”
Haggai 1:6. Ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink;
“You are as thirsty as ever after all your drinking from the earthly cistern, yet you still crave for more of that drink which can never quench your soul’s thirst.”
Haggai 1:6. Ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put into a bag with holes.
How often does this happen! Yet what folly it is for a man to work hard, and earn wages, and then put the money into a bag with holes, and so lose it all!
Haggai 1:7-9. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.
Again I beg you to note what a stern rebuke this was, yet how richly was it deserved! God had done great things for his people; he had brought them back from Babylon to Jerusalem, and their first concern should have been to rebuild the temple which had been destroyed. But every man was more concerned for his own house than for the house of the Lord, and, therefore, no good could come of whatever they did, or whatever they had. “I did blow upon it,” said the Lord; and when God blows upon whatever a man has, or upon whatever a man does, he soon blows it away, as the marginal reading says.
Haggai 1:10-11. 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, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.
We are dependent upon God for everything, and sometimes he makes use of the ordinary laws of nature to be a chastisement to those who forget him. If we will not be reminded of him by his mercies, we shall be reminded by his judgments; and if, as stewards, we do not make a proper use of that which he entrusts to us, he can easily take it all away.
Haggai 1:12. Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, 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 did fear before the LORD.
What a blessing it is when faithful testimony is thus received! Sometimes it happens that people get angry, and hate the preacher who too plainly rebukes them for their sins; but when the Spirit of God works within them, they take heed to what is said, and receive the preacher’s message as from God himself.
Haggai 1:13. Then spake Haggai the LORD’S messenger in the LORD’S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD.
Haggai was the Lord’s messenger, so he did not utter his own words; but he “spake in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith Jehovah.” He was with them, so they were with him; and it is the same with us if we are true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, for he says to us, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world;” and if we have the presence of God, we have all that we need.
Haggai 1:14-15. And the LORD stirred up the Spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, in the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.
God takes note of the time when his people work for him; he records, in his almanac, the day, the month, the year, for he loves to see his people actively engaged in his service.