I will shake the heavens and the earth - Calmet supposes that the invasion of Cambyses, and his death, are what the prophet has in view by this shaking of the heavens and the earth: but this invasion and defeat happened three years before they had begun to work at the temple; and how could it be made a matter of interest to Zerubbabel? Calmet answers this, by translating the words in the past tense; and shows that the fact was recalled to Zerubbabel's attention, to fix his confidence in God, etc. Bp. Newcome says we may well understand this and the twenty-second verse of the calamity undergone by Babylon in the reign of Darius; of the Macedonian conquests in Persia; and of the wars which the successors of Alexander waged against each other: others under stand it of the Romans.
I will shake - Haggai closes by resuming the words of a former prophecy to Zerubbabel and Joshua, which ended in the coming of Christ. Even thus it is plain, that the prophecy does not belong personally to Zerubbabel, but to him and his descendants, chiefly to Christ. There was in Zerubbabel‘s time no shaking of the heaven or of nations. Darius had indeed to put down an unusual number of rebellions in the first few years after his accession; but, although he magnified himself on occasion of their suppression, they were only so many distinct and unconcerted revolts, each under its own head. All were far away in the distant East, in Babylonia, Susiana, Media, Armenia, Assyria, Hyrcania, Parthia, Sagartia, Margiana, Arachosia. The Persian empire, spread “probably over 2,000,000 square miles, or more than half of modern Europe,” was not threatened; no foreign enemy assailed it; one impostor only claimed the throne of Darius. This would, if successful, have been, like his own accession, a change of dynasty, affecting nothing externally.
But neither were lasting, some were very trifling. Two decisive battles subdued Babylonia: of Media the brief summary is given “the Medes revolted from Darius, and having revolted were brought back into subjection, defeated in battle.” The Susianians killed their own pretender, on the approach of the troops of Darius. We have indeed mostly the account only of the victor. But these are only self-glorying records of victories, accomplished in succession, within a few years. Sometimes the satrap of the province put the revolt down at once. At most two battles ended in the crucifixion of the rebel. The Jews, if they heard of them, knew them to be of no account. For the destroyer of the Persian empire was to come from the West Daniel 8:5, the fourth sovereign was to stir up all against the realm of Grecia Daniel 11:2, and Darius was but the third. In the same second year of Darius, in which Haggai gave this prophecy, the whole earth was exhibited to Zechariah as Zechariah 1:11, “sitting still and at rest.”
The overthrow prophesied is also universal. It is not one throne only, as of Persia, but “the throne,” i. e., the sovereigns, “of kingdoms;” not a change of dynasty, but a destruction of their “strength;” not of a few powers only, but “the kingdoms of the pagan;” and that, in detail; that, in which their chief strength lay, the chariots and horsemen and their riders, and this, man by man, “every one by the sword of his brother.” This mutual destruction is a feature of the judgments at the end of the world against Gog and Magog Ezekiel 38:21; and of the yet unfulfilled prophecies of Zechariah Zechariah 14:17. Its stretching out so far does not hinder its partial fulfillment in earlier times. Zerubbabel stood, at the return from the captivity, as the representative of the house of David and heir of the promises to him, though in an inferior temporal condition; thereby the rather showing that the main import of the prophecy was not temporal. As then Ezekiel prophesied, Ezekiel 34:23. “I will set up One Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, My servant David” Ezekiel 37:24-25; “And David My servant shall be king over them; and My servant David shall be their prince forever;” and Jeremiah Jeremiah 30:9. “They shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them; and Hosea, that Hosea 3:5. after many days shall the children of Israel return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king,” meaning by David, the great descendant of David, in whom the promises centered, so in his degree, the promise to Zerubbabel reaches on through his descendants to Christ; that, amid all the overthrow of empires, God would protect His sons‘ sons until Christ should come, the King of kings and Lord of lords, whose Daniel 2:44. “kingdom shall never be destroyed, but it shall break in pieces and consume all those kingdoms, and shall stand fast forever.”
It will not be long until the gathering storm will burst upon the world that is so asleep in sin.... When the earth is reeling to and fro like a drunkard, when the heavens are shaking, and the great day of the Lord has come, who shall be able to stand? One object they behold in trembling agony from which they will try in vain to escape. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him” (Revelation 1:7). The unsaved utter wild imprecations to dumb nature—their god: “Mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne’” (Revelation 6:16). TMK 356.2Read in context »
With fields lying waste, with their scant store of provisions rapidly failing, and surrounded as they were by unfriendly peoples, the Israelites nevertheless moved forward by faith in response to the call of God's messengers, and labored diligently to restore the ruined temple. It was a work requiring firm reliance upon God. As the people endeavored to do their part, and sought for a renewal of God's grace in heart and life, message after message was given them through Haggai and Zechariah, with assurances that their faith would be richly rewarded and that the word of God concerning the future glory of the temple whose walls they were rearing would not fail. In this very building would appear, in the fullness of time, the Desire of all nations as the Teacher and Saviour of mankind. PK 577.1
Thus the builders were not left to struggle alone; “with them were the prophets of God helping them;” and the Lord of hosts Himself had declared, “Be strong, ... and work: for I am with you.” Ezra 5:2; Haggai 2:4. PK 577.2
With heartfelt repentance and a willingness to advance by faith, came the promise of temporal prosperity. “From this day,” the Lord declared, “will I bless you.” Verse 19. PK 577.3Read in context »