SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 4 (EGW)

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Haggai

Chapter 1

1, 2. Pleas for Delay Dishonor God—[Haggai 1:1, 2 quoted.] The expression, “This people say,” is significant. In the hour of their opportunity, the Israelites had not shown themselves willing. Prompt obedience is expected of those whom the Lord chooses and leads. Pleas for delay are a dishonor to God. And yet those who choose to follow their own way, often frame ingenious excuses in self-justification. Thus the Israelites declared that they had begun to rebuild, but that they were broken off in their work because of the hindrances devised by their enemies. These hindrances, they reasoned, were an indication that it was not the proper time to rebuild. They declared that the Lord had interposed difficulties to reprove their hot haste. This is why, in a communication through His prophet, He referred to them not as “my people,” but as “this people.” 4BC 1175.3

The Israelites had no real excuse for leaving their work on the temple. The time when the most serious objections were raised, was the time for them to persevere in building. But they were actuated by a selfish dislike to encounter danger by arousing the opposition of their enemies. They did not possess the faith that is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. They hesitated to move forward by faith in the opening providences of God, because they could not see the end from the beginning. When difficulties arose, they were easily turned from the work. 4BC 1175.4

This history will be repeated. There will be religious failures because men do not have faith. When they look at the things that are seen, impossibilities appear; but God can lead them step by step in the course He desires them to take. His work will advance only as His servants move forward by faith. While they may be called upon to pass through trying times, yet they should ever remember that they are contending with a weakened, beaten foe. God's people will finally triumph over every power of darkness (The Review and Herald, December 5, 1907). 4BC 1175.5

2. Misinterpretation of Prophecy Hindered God's Work—The Lord has resources. His hand is on the machinery. When the time came for His temple to be rebuilt, He moved upon Cyrus as His agent to discern the prophecies concerning Himself, and to grant the Jewish people their liberty. And more, Cyrus furnished them the necessary facilities for rebuilding the temple of the Lord. This work began under Cyrus, and his successor carried on the work begun. 4BC 1175.6

[Isaiah 45:1 and 44:28 quoted.] 4BC 1175.7

The Samaritans tried to hinder this work. By their false reports they aroused suspicion in minds easily stirred up to suspect; and because of this discouragement, the Jews became unbelieving and indifferent in regard to the work that the Lord had signified He would have done. They were opposed by Smerdis the usurper. “Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem. So it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.” When Darius came to the throne, he set aside the work and prohibition of the usurper. But even then the people that should have been the most interested continued to be indifferent. They misapplied the prophecy given by Inspiration. They misinterpreted the Word of God, and declared that the time to build had not yet come, and that until the days were fully accomplished, they would not undertake the work. But while they left the building of the house of the Lord, the temple in which they could worship God, until the end of the time specified as the captivity of the Jews had fully come, they built mansions for themselves (MS 116, 1897). 4BC 1175.8

13. Reproof Changed to Encouragement—It was after Haggai's second message that the people felt that the Lord was in earnest with them. They dared not disregard the repeated warning that their prosperity and the blessing of God were dependent upon their entire obedience to the instructions given them. As soon as they decided that they would do the words of the Lord, His messages of reproof changed to words of encouragement. O how merciful a God we have! He says, “I am with you.” The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. He assured the people that if they were obedient, they would place themselves in a position where He could bless them for His own name's glory. If God's people will only rely upon Him, and believe in Him, He will bless them (Manuscript 116, 1897). 4BC 1176.1