Zerubbabel is the governor of Judah at the time Haggai spoke his prophecy, a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah. There are plenty of references to him in their books. Haggai is referred to by Ezra (5:1; 6:14) as being “the prophet” who was present. Haggai is sent by the Lord to strengthen the will of the people in rebuilding the temple. There is not enough zeal among the people to complete the rebuilding work. The prophet says, “Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes?” (2:3).
What is the reason for this? A lack of vision? A lack of spiritual vision has always been serious. The prophet rebukes them for their lack of endeavor, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? … Consider your ways!” (1:4,5).
In today’s language we could say, ‘Consider your priorities, how you use your time and spend your money’! God says, “my house … lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house” (verse 9). Then the prophet gives a strong message to the leaders and the people; “Yet now be strong O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts” (2:4).
A parallel message for followers of Christ is emphasized in the New Testament, “… be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” Paul says (2 Timothy 2:1). And Peter says, “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God …” (1 Peter 2:5).
Finally, we see how Haggai is given a picture of the ultimate time which has a far greater temple! We appear to be on the brink of this age! “I will shake all nations,” the LORD tells him, “so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory … the latter glory of this house shall be greater … And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts” (2:7,9).
Let us all be strong in the ways the LORD sees true strength, for we have the wonder of His grace. As Paul says in first Corinthians, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (verse 13).