For thus said the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea…
In studying the Old Testament, it is deeply interesting to trace therein the gradual development of the Messianic hope. Three distinct stages are observable.
1. From the promise made at the Fall (Genesis 3:15) until the death of Moses. The indefinite promise respecting "the Seed of the woman" was made more definite in the promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:3), and was revealed still more explicitly in "the Prophet" who was declared by Moses as at length to arise, and who should be Law giver, Ruler, and Deliverer (Deuteronomy 18:15).
2. During the reigns of David and Solomon, the idea of the Kingship of the Messiah was developed, and this Divine royalty was the theme of the Messianic psalms.
3. From Isaiah to Malachi we have a yet further unfolding, the Incarnation and Passion of the world's Redeemer Being declared (see Lidden's Bampton Lectures on 'Our Lord's Divinity,' lect. 2.). The mission of Haggai had special reference to encouraging the temple builders in their arduous toil; but the verses now before us (vers. 6-9) connect him with this development of the Messianic anticipation, since only in the light of the Christian age can the full significance of his teaching as contained here be realized.
I. CONSIDER WHAT THIS PROPHECY PROBABLY SUGGESTED TO THE JEWS OF THIS SEER'S OWN TIME.
1. Freedom from the yoke of servitude. These returned exiles were under the power of the Persian monarch; and they would understand their seer (vers. 6, 7) to mean that political agitations would soon occur among the nations, and which their God would overrule to the effecting of their enfranchisement.
2. The temple they were rearing to become enriched with material wealth. "And the desire of all nations shall come," etc. (vers. 7, 8). "Chemdah signifies desire, then the object of desire, that in which a man finds pleasure and joy, valuables. Chemdath haggoyim is therefore the valuable possessions of the heathen, or, according to ver. 8, their gold and silver or their treasures and riches. The thought is the following: That shaking will be followed by this result, or produce this effect, that all the valuable possessions of the heathen will come to fill the temple with glory" (Keil and Delitzsch, on 'The Minor Prophets,' vol. 2:193, 194).
3. A time of settled peace and prosperity (ver. 9). This restricted apprehension of the meaning underlying the prophet's words would cheer the hearts of the builders and impel them to renewed endeavour.
II. CONSIDER THE PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THIS PROPHECY DURING THE LATER JEWISH AGE. We know that the national convulsions hinted at in the prophecy did arise - that Persia was subdued by Greece; that Greece was shaken into fragments at the death of Alexander; and that the Eastern world became the prey of Rome; and we know also that whilst these conflicts were going on the Jews prospered, and material wealth flowed into their temple, the heathen, with the decay of their systems, coming and consecrating their possessions to the Lord of hosts. Nor were tokens wanting of the partial fulfilment of the prophecy in its spiritual significance. "Rites and ceremonies retired more into the background; and prayer began to assume its true place in public worship. The religious knowledge of the people was kept up through the regular public reading and distribution of the Scriptures, which were early collected into their present canonical form. Synagogues were established, the people having learnt at Babylon that God's presence might be enjoyed in their assemblies in any place or circumstances. Thus there was kept alive throughout the nation a higher and purer type of religion than it had known in the days when the first temple with its outward splendour and gorgeous ritual excited the admiration of the people, but too seldom led their thoughts to the contemplation of the truths it expressed and prefigured" (McCundy; see Lange's 'Commentary on Haggai,' p. 19).
III. CONSIDER THE COMPLETE FULFILMENT OF THE PROPHECY IN THE CHRISTIAN DISPENSATION. The prophecy is Messianic. Underneath its letter there lies a deep spiritual meaning. The prophet saw, afar off, the day of Christ, and testified beforehand of the latter-day glory of the Lord and his Christ. We see its full accomplishment:
1. In the shaking of the nations by the power of the Divine Spirit.
2. The consecration by the good of all their gifts and endowments to the service of the Lord.
3. The realized spiritual presence of God in Christ with his Church, and which constitutes her true glory.
4. The inward rest and tranquillity all his people shall experience as his bestowment. - S.D.H.
Parallel VersesKJV: For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;