Haggai 2:3 Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory?
When the temple foundation was laid (or perhaps mostly completed according to Josephus), a great celebration was had at the temple site. At that time, there were some who were old enough to remember the Temple of Solomon in all its grandeur and beauty. Although the Temple of Zerubbabel that they were building was built to the same dimensions, the accoutrements were not so extravagant. The difference was so stark that the elderly were crying out of disappointment at the same time the younger generation was shouting for joy (Ezra 3:10-12). Josephus recorded, “Now the priests and Levites, and the elder part of the families, recollecting with themselves how much greater and more sumptuous the old temple had been… they were disconsolate, and not able to contain their grief, and proceeded so far as to lament and shed tears on those accounts; but the people in general were contented.” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book XI, 4:2)
Interestingly, the Lord didn’t forget the disappointment of these older Jews. He makes a point to encourage them saying, “the glory of this latter house shall be greater than the” Temple of Solomon (v. 9). The Lord is careful to make sure that those who chose him are not disappointed. The Lord’s attention to detail is remarkable; it is a tender mercy for those who felt slighted.
“In structure and appurtenances this new Temple was not as grand and impressive as the First Temple, though it was basically the same size and architectural style. Those who remembered the previous Temple wept and lamented the inferiority of the restored Sanctuary, which no longer contained the Ark of the Covenant or the Urim and Thummim. Nevertheless, even without the protection of walls and fortifications, and with only a small population, Jerusalem once again became a Temple City.
“Enjoying considerable governmental autonomy, the Jews of Jerusalem enjoyed some peace and prosperity during the ensuing decades.” (David B. Galbraith, D. Kelly Ogden, and Andrew C. Skinner, Jerusalem: The Eternal City [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1996], 123)
Haggai 2:4-5 now be strong, O Zerubbabel… and be strong, O Joshua
Haggai and Zechariah both preach the same thing to Zerubbabel and Joshua, “it’s time to finish the temple.” Haggai is encouraging them. History would repeat itself in Kirtland and Nauvoo. The people are poor. They barely have the construction skills to complete the monumental task. Supplies must be hauled from great distances. The neighbors are obstructionist. Under such circumstances, it takes a mountain of faith to build the mountain of the Lord’s house.
An observer of the Kirtland Temple construction named Reverend Truman Coe commented:
“The completion of the temple, according to the pattern shown to Joseph in vision, is a monument of unconquerable zeal. The imposing splendor of the pulpits, the orders of the Melchisedec and the Aaronic priesthoods, and the vails which are let down or drawn by machinery, dividing the place of worship into several apartments, presents before us a strange compound of Jewish antiquity and Roman Catholic mummery. The reproof which the prophet addresses to ancient Israel that they dwelt in ceiled houses while the Temple of God was laid waste (Hag. 1:4), can never be applied to these Mormons.—Stimulated by strong faith and zeal, you will see them muster all their forces for miles around to hear the brethren speak in tongues, and proclaim the wonderful works of God. In this view they give to those who call themselves sober christians a most severe rebuke. If they had half the zeal of these misguided Mormons, the world would tremble, and the millennial day would speedily be ushered in (The Ohio Observer, 11 August 1836).”
If we go back in time, even before Haggai and Zerubbabel, the Lord gave the same message to Solomon. Apparently, it takes a lot of strength and courage to build temples. Satan makes it difficult. So “David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it (meaning build the temple): fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord” (1 Chron. 28:20).
Haggai 2:6-7 Yet… a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth… and I will shake all nations
In the Lord’s timing, it is “a little while” between 520 BC and the Second Coming. In my timing, that is “a long while,” “a very, very long while.” When we listen to the news or consider the state of the world, we hope that someone could come “shake things up” a little bit. It won’t happen until the Lord comes in his glory. Then, He will, very literally, “shake things up.”
Neal A. Maxwell
Joel said, "The heavens and the earth shall shake." (Joel 3:16.) Haggai said, speaking for the Lord, "I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea." (Haggai 2:6.) Isaiah, using somewhat different words, said, "The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard." (Isaiah 24:20.) (Things As They Really Are [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 93)
Haggai 2:7-9 I will fill this house with glory… and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord
The Lord fills his house with glory every time He visits. The revelations of the Lord through Haggai and Zechariah testify to the Lord’s acceptance of the temple. That he would sanctify this house with his presence should not be doubted.
“The prophet then opened up to them the distant view, telling of ultimate things, doubtless to help motivate them (Hag. 2:6-7 and fn.). The glory of the future temple would be greater even than the former temple had been, and even though they were not building that future temple, the prophet let them feel a relationship of their work to it (Hag. 2:6-9). This second temple, refurbished in the days of Herod, did become the temple to which Jesus Christ came, and a final replacement will be grander still (Ezek. 40-48).” (Ellis T. Rasmussen, A Latter-day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament [Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1993], 678)
Howard W. Hunter
I encourage everyone to worthily attend the temple or to work toward the day when you can enter that holy house to receive your ordinances and covenants. May you let the meaning and beauty and peace of the temple come into your everyday life more directly in order that the millennial day may come. (LDS Church News, 1998, 04/11/98)
Lance B. Wickman
[Little did we know, my wife and I] would stand together and say farewell as a five-year-old son slipped from this world across the veiled threshold into the next; and, later still, we would welcome a handicapped daughter into mortality. Life has brought us its challenges, as it does to all. But through the years I have come to appreciate the wisdom of a dear friend, a patriarch and temple sealer. “Lance,” he said, “the joy I receive is more than just being in the temple. The temple is in me! And when I leave the temple, its peace goes with me.”
So it can be for every righteous soul. When we visit the temple as often as distance and individual circumstance permit, the temple will be in us. Then, despite the buffetings of life, we will always be in a holy place. The house of the Lord beckons to all who would be numbered with Zion: “Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths” (Isa. 2:3). (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1994/10/stand-ye-in-holy-places?lang=eng)
Thomas S. Monson
As I think of temples, my thoughts turn to the many blessings we receive therein. As we enter through the doors of the temple, we leave behind us the distractions and confusion of the world. Inside this sacred sanctuary, we find beauty and order. There is rest for our souls and a respite from the cares of our lives.
As we attend the temple, there can come to us a dimension of spirituality and a feeling of peace which will transcend any other feeling which could come into the human heart. We will grasp the true meaning of the words of the Savior when He said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. … Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (Jn. 14:27)
Such peace can permeate any heart—hearts that are troubled, hearts that are burdened down with grief, hearts that feel confusion, hearts that plead for help. (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/04/blessings-of-the-temple?lang=eng)
Haggai 2:8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine
The Temple of Solomon had gold leaf on the pillars of the entrance. Detailed wood carvings adorned everything. Even “the floor of the house [was] overlaid with gold, within and without” (1 Kgs. 6:30). There were “costly stones,” perhaps cut marble, “from the foundation unto the coping” (1 Kgs. 7:9). The Temple of Zerubbabel had none of these fine details. They didn’t have the silver or the gold to make the temple as nice as they were used to.
How did the Lord feel about that? He said, “Don’t worry about it. All the silver in the entire world is mine. All the gold hidden in every hill is mine.” He has reminded us elsewhere, “Have I not made the earth?” (D&C 117:6) “I have made the earth rich, and behold it is my footstool, wherefore, again I will stand upon it. And I will hold forth and deign to give unto you greater riches, even a land of promise.” (D&C 38:17-18) “Awake, O kings of the earth! Come ye, O, come ye, with your gold and your silver, to the help of my people to the house of the daughters of Zion.” (D&C 124:11)
Haggai 2:12-13 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment
When Christ was thronged by the multitude, a woman with an issue of blood (and therefore ceremonially unclean, Lev. 15:19-17) touched the hem of his garment. His holiness was so powerful that it sanctified and healed the woman. In an instant, she became healed and clean (Lu. 8:43-47). Does the priest in the temple have the same effect? If he has been sanctified, if his garments are clean, if he has been righteous, can he then make any common thing holy by merely touching it? The answer is no. He does not have the same sanctifying power.
Conversely, if a man who is unclean touches any common thing, will he make it unclean? Yes, it shall be unclean. As wicked mortals, we cannot of our own power make anything clean—only the Lord can do that. We can make a lot of things unclean, but we have no power, grace, or virtue to make things clean. Nothing we offer the Lord is clean by virtue of our own power. Because of sin we are unclean, and of necessity all our offerings are unclean. Hence, the Lord says, “so is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the Lord; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean” (Hag. 2:14). It is the Old Testament version of the Book of Mormon principle:
I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants. (Mosiah 2:21)
We are completely reliant on the Lord to be clean; we are completely reliant on the Lord to be holy; and we are completely reliant on the Lord to provide us with air to breathe from day to day.
Haggai 2:17-19 I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands
Had the people been more righteous, they would have been blessed. To borrow from the Book of Mormon again, “inasmuch as ye kept my commandments ye were prospered in the land but inasmuch as ye disobeyed, the works of your hands were cursed” (2 Ne. 1:20, paraphrased). This was according to the promise made to Moses: “if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord… The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.” (Deut. 28:15, 22)
Good news! The mildew days are over! No more curses! The Lord promised, “from this day will I bless you.” We should consider this one of the blessings of obedience and temple work, the Lord will prosper us and bless us, both spiritually and temporally.
Haggai 2:22 I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them
The Lord references the destruction of Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea. He has done it before and He will do it again. The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ will remind us of Moses’ leading the children out of Israel with a strong hand. “A prophet like unto Moses” (Deut. 18:15) has been prophesied for centuries. The fulfillment of the symbolic foreshadowing will not be complete until the Lord comes again. He will destroy the nations that oppose him. Their chariots, riders, and horses will be slain. Their ability to threaten his chosen people will be destroyed. He will reign without a challenger, “him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:22-23)