The Book of Haggai - "Searchlights from the Word" by G. Campbell Morgan.
Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your cieled houses, while this House lieth waste?
For the first time (except in the case of Daniel) a prophetic book is dated by Gentile dynasties. Israel's days are counted by reigns outside the Covenant. The remnant was restored to Jerusalem from captivity, but was still subject to Gentile powers. In these two chapters we have four messages, each carefully dated. They were all directed to one end, that namely of bringing these people to build the House of God, which, notwithstanding the fact that they had been restored over fifteen years, yet lay in incompleteness. In his work Haggai was helped by Zechariah; and they were successful, for the House of Jehovah was built. The first of Haggai's addresses is found in this chapter. Its positive note was a call to 'arise and build; its method was that of combating the mental attitude which had prevented the building. These particular words constituted the prophet's answer to that mental mood. The people were waiting for the right time, and saying that the right time was not yet come. The prophet revealed the falsity of the attitude by this question. They were not waiting for some special time, some psychic moment, for the building of their own houses. Into that, they were putting physical energy. The psychic condition needed for the building of the House of God was that of minds determined to employ physical energy enough to do it. How persistent is this folly of waiting for psychic moments to do Divine work, when the one thing needed is immediate action. The truth was, and is, in all such cases, that action is the outcome of desire. To desire the House of Jehovah is to build it. What we need is true apprehension of relative values.
The latter glory of this House shall be greater than the former.
In this chapter there are three messages, all of which were called forth by moods of the people which threatened to prevent their accomplishment of the great work. The first message aroused them, and under the leadership of Zerubbabel the governor and Joshua the high priest, they started well. After about seven weeks came the feast of Tabernacles with its necessary cessation of work. During that period they were assailed by the lamentations of those who bemoaned the poverty of the House they were building, in comparison with the glorious House which had been destroyed. Such lamentation tended to dishearten them, and to correct this the prophet made this great declaration. Here again is a persistent peril. Men are constantly tempted to think meanly of the work they are doing as they compare it with the glories of past achievements. It is an utterly false and unwarranted thing to do. To that House, lacking in some material splendour which had characterized the former one, there was to come the Desire of all nations, and so a spiritual glory which the former House never knew. Let us lay the lesson to heart. We may be working better and greater things than we know. It is always futile to judge the value of God-appointed tasks by the appearance of the hour in which they are done. If they are indeed appointed by Him, that is enough for us to know; and more, that is the assurance that they are better than the past, for God is ever moving towards the higher, the grander, the nobler; and will do so, until He has wrought out the final perfection of His will.