These small group studies of Haggai contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, teaching points, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Haggai 2:1-9 – Inductive Bible Study for Small Groups With Discovery Questions
I. Comparing discourages the builders (1-3)
II. God encourages the builders (4-9)
I. Comparing discourages the builders (1-3)
- How long after the events of chapter one does chapter 2 occur?
- Who was the message largely directed to? Why is this important?
- Do you think some of the people had seen the previous temple? If so, was this group likely the majority or the minority? How long before had the previous temple been destroyed?
- What lesson can you learn from the fact that the new “replacement” temple was not as glorious as the one before?
- How does the reflect the changes the nation itself had gone through?
- What does this teach us about the consequences of sin?
- What can you learn from this about God’s character? What can you learn about restoration and forgiveness?
- Is the focus of God’s message on comparing their previous position to what they have now?
- Then why does God bring this up?
- What are some sins, which although God forgives them, have a lasting impact that cannot be reversed?
- Knowing that forgiveness does mean the effects of sin will be negated, how should you act?
- What would you say to the person who presumes to sin because he knows that forgiveness is available?
Ezra 3:12-13 – But many of the priests and Levites and heads of the fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this temple was laid before their eyes. Yet many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard afar off.
Galatians 6:7-8 – Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
1 Samuel 12:13-14 – Then David exclaimed to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord!” Nathan replied to David, “Yes, and the Lord has forgiven your sin. You are not going to die. 12:14 Nonetheless, because you have treated the Lord with such contempt in this matter, the son who has been born to you will certainly die.”
Hebrews 12:6 – The Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.
1. Twenty first of the seventh month – This takes place one month and three weeks after God first gives a message to Haggai in chapter one and one month after they start building the temple again. Although the people had stopped the building project for sixteen years, we see that they are now moving again quickly to finish it. But although they have listened to God’s Word in Haggai 1 and responded well, there is still potential for discouragement. So God sends a second message to encourage them to keep going and not give up.
2. The message was once again focused on the leaders – Leaders are very important. Where leaders lead, the people will normally follow. If Zerubabbel and Joshua persevered the people would go with and join them, but if they became discouraged and gave up, the people likely would as well. From this we see the importance of leading well.
Application: Whatever area you are a leader in, lead well for God’s glory and don’t give up.
3. Who is left among you who saw the temple in its former glory? – The seventy year exile started in 605 B.C. Solomon’s temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. after a revolt by Jerusalem. The temple rebuilding project started in about 535 B.C. It was nearly seventy years since the temple was destroyed. The people stopped for about 16 years. So Haggai is written around 520 B.C. Only people at least in their upper sixties could have seen and remembered temple. Considering many of the very oldest Jews would not have been healthy for a trip back to Jerusalem it is reasonable to conclude that the answer to this question is “some, but not many.”
4. Does it now seem to you like nothing? – God is expressing what many people were thinking. We can see this in Ezra 3:12-13. While the people were mostly very excited about building the temple, and the step they were taking in serving God, the very oldest felt a mixture of joy and grief. They had seen Solomon’s Temple in all of its glory. They remembered what it was like to be a free nation. The riches, the culture, and the freedom they enjoyed were all part of their memories. As a nation their disobedience to God cost them everything. Although they had been restored, what they were restored to was not the same as what they had lost.
From this we learn that God is merciful to forgive and restore those who have sinned against him.
The exile teaches us of God’s justice. But the return teaches us of God’s mercy. God’s discipline toward believers is always for the purpose of ultimate restoration. In this passage though we also see that what He restores us to may not be exactly the same as what we had before we sin.
While they were grateful for God’s goodness, they also remembered what they had lost. The new temple was not the same as the one before. Jerusalem was not the same. And many of the people were were forced to leave the land could never come back.
Application: This passage is at the same time both a warning and a comfort for us. The warning is that sin is costly. Sin could cost you your marriage, your relationship with your children, your job, your reputation and much more. It is always better to obey God the first time around.
At the same time, God is good and His steadfast love endures forever. If today you feel like you are far from God, He is waiting with arms wide open to receive you. All you need to do is to come back to Him and He will restore you. If you feel like you are far from God, just pray in your heart right now and tell Him “I want to come back to you.” He will welcome you.
5. We should not get into the habit of comparing – See two quotes below on the dangers of comparing.
Quote by Spurgeon – “The smallness of our gifts may be a temptation to us. We are consciously so weak and so insignificant, compared with the great God and his great cause, that we are discouraged, and think it vain to attempt anything . . . the enemy contrasts our work with that of others, and with that of those who have gone before us. We are doing so little as compared with other people, therefore let us give up. We cannot build like Solomon, therefore let us not build at all. Yet, brethren, there is a falsehood in all this, for, in truth, nothing is worthy of God. The great works of others, and even the amazing productions of Solomon, all fell short of his glory.” (Spurgeon)
Quote by A.W. Tozer – “Dear Lord, I refuse henceforth to compete with any of Thy servants. They have congregations larger than mine. So be it. I rejoice in their success. They have greater gifts. Very well. That is not in their power nor in mine. I am humbly grateful for their greater gifts and my smaller ones. I only pray that I may use to Thy glory such modest gifts as I possess. I will not compare myself with any, nor try to build up my self-esteem by noting where I may excel one or another in Thy holy work. I herewith make a blanket disavowal of all intrinsic worth. I am but an unprofitable servant. I gladly go to the foot of the cross and own myself the least of Thy people. If I err in my self judgment and actually underestimate myself I do not want to know it. I purpose to pray for others and to rejoice in their prosperity as if it were my own. And indeed it is my own if it is Thine own, for what is Thine is mine, and while one plants and another waters it is Thou alone that giveth the increase.” (A.W. Tozer, The Price of Neglect)
6. Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet – In this verse we see a clue about what is going to happen. The people were a bit discouraged thinking that this temple was not as good as the one before But God had something to say to them to encourage them and that is the focus of the remaining verses in this chapter.
Application: As followers of God, we should imitate Him. When you see people down take note of it and make a special effort to encourage them.
II. God encourages the builders (4-9)
- What is the key message God has for His people in these verses?
- What promise is referred to in verse 5?
- How would they have felt to know that “My Spirit is abiding in your midst?”
- What does this statement show them about their relationship with God?
- What can you learn from this about mercy and forgiveness?
- Because they know that God is with them, how should they act?
- What does it mean “I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land?”
- What was God going to do?
- When would the prophecies in verse 7 and 9 take place? Already or still in the future?
- What does verse 8 teach us about money? How should we view “our” money?
- How might a 5th century Jew responded to God’s promise of “peace?”
- Is it any different than how we might respond to this promise?
- Do you sometimes take peace for granted?
- How can you be sure not to take peace for granted in the future?
Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
2 Timothy 1:7 – For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Psalm 27:14 – Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Isaiah 41:10 – Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Romans 8:38-39 – For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Hebrews 12:26-27 – At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
John 16:33 – I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
1. Take courage – We see in Ezra that their enemies are discouraging them. They are trying to frighten them by threatening them and paying counselors to de-motivate them. Letters are written to try to stop the work both the first time and the second time (see Ezra 5.) God wants His followers to be bold and not afraid. There are always opponents trying to stop His people from serving Him. But notice the reason for the courage.
2. For I am with you – The foundation for their courage was knowing that God was with them. He was present with them. And dating back to the time of Moses, this was vital for them to know.
Exodus 33:15 – Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.”
More than just His presence, this also shows that God was favorable toward them and their plan. He supported it. He had encouraged them to start building the temple when they were enjoying their paneled walls and He would not abandon them once they started the project. Although they might face many enemies and many obstacles, through God’s strength they could finish it and they could pass over all of those obstacles victoriously. God had good plans for them, plans for their welfare.
Psalm 3:6 – I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
Application: If you are obeying God’s will for your life, He is with you. Do not fear persecution. Do not give in to pressure from society. Don’t worry about your boss and your parents or whoever may be against you. Obstacles are normal. Even when God told them to rebuild the temple, He did not remove obstacles. These obstacles were a test to build their faith and character. Obstacles are an opportunity for you to exercise your faith and grow.
3. My Spirit is abiding your midst, do not fear! – This is the same idea we see in verse 4. God’s people should be bold (not fear) because He is with them (Exodus 29:45-46). The fact that God condescends to dwell with His people, and now His Spirit to live in our very hearts, is an amazing thing. The Creator of the universe is infinite in power, might, intelligence, and holiness. And He is willing to be with us, sinful creatures. Next time you face a challenging obstacle, remember that God with you!
3. Verse 6-7 – I will shake all the nations. See Hebrews 12:26-29. He will shake all the nations so that they will bring their gold and silver (what they treasure or desire) to the temple. Some translations say that “what is desired” by all nations will come. Others say “they will come with the wealth” of all the nations. The translation “desire” has given rise to an interpretation meaning that people will come to see the Desire of the Nations, or the Messiah.
However, there are three problems with this. Firstly, it assumes that the Messiah is the desire of all the nations, when in fact He was rejected by the nations. Secondly, it is not the smoothest rendering of the original language. Finally, it does not fit with the context. When in doubt, look at the context. And the context is talking about money, treasure, wealth.
What I believe Haggai is prophesying is that people from all nations will come with monetary gifts to bring to the temple. It is a way to encourage the people who feel that it is small and insignificant.
Did this happen? Even in the time of Jesus people came from far and wide to visit the temple. Certainly they brought many large gifts of money. That would have been hard to predict in the time of Zerubabbel when Jerusalem was a small and impoverished, insignificant city, which no one cared about outside of a few Jews. But in a few hundred years the city and the temple had regained much fame. Josephus tells us in his history that at the Passover over a million people filled the city. Many of these brought money to give. One day in the millennial reign this will be even more widespread.
4. I will fill this house with my glory and the latter glory of this house will be greater than the former – Here are two prophecies which were made to encourage the people in regard to the temple which they were building. They have been discouraged as they compared it to Solomon’s temple. Its meager size, less valuable building materials, and less skilled workers all could have been a drag on morale. But God tells them that the temple they were building would be even more glorious than Solomon’s temple. Physically speaking this was true. Herod remodeled and revamped the temple built in Haggai’s day to make it truly splendid, greater even than Solomon’s temple.
Mark 13:1-2 – As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”
“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
During the time of Jesus Herod had largely finished renovations. It was an amazing work which drew the admiration of Jesus’ disciples, who were were astounded by its magnificence. People would have come from far abroad to the temple as pilgrims to worship the Lord there, but also as tourists.
So when God says that the temple is going to be more glorious, is this what He is referring to? While, this is clearly a factually true statement, Jesus’ reply to the disciples should make us reconsider the “easy answer.” Did Jesus’ consider the temple in the time of Herod to be glorious?
Here His answer shows that He didn’t have a high regard for the physical beauty of the temple. It was going to be destroyed. Jesus Himself was angered by the corruption of the leaders of the temple and all of the sellers who used it only as a means of profit (John 2:13-16). So it begs the question, would God encourage the temple builders by telling them in essence, “Don’t worry, Herod will make it even more beautiful?” Probably not.
The glory then referred to is something deeper than the physical beauty, which God did not care about and which Jesus almost shows disdain for (and why shouldn’t he show disdain for a beautiful building where people did not truly honor Him, but only sought to profit.) This is much like the state of many lovely churches, especially in Europe. The buildings are marvelous, but the church itself is dead there.
I believe that the glory referred to in these verses is Jesus Himself. Jesus Himself would go to the temple. He would worship there. He would teach there. He would purify it. And at His death, the veil in the temple would be torn in two. Jesus Himself was the Son of the Temple (Matthew 17:24-27.)
Isaiah 60:1-2 – Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. For behold, darkness covers the earth, and thick darkness is over the peoples; but the LORD will rise upon you, and His glory will appear over you.
Jesus is the glory of the temple. He Himself would visit it. The Messiah would shine from the temple like a star. What could be more encouraging to the temple workers than that? The stones they were laying may not have been as big as the ones in Solomon’s temple, but the Messiah would walk on them. His voice would resound over them. His forgiveness would wash over any who believed in Him there. Salvation would be offered there and validated with the torn veil. Whereas in the time of Haggai a person could only approach God through the mediator priest at the temple, after the Messiah visited it anyone could approach God anywhere themselves. The temple would transition from place where God dwelt to people’s hearts where His Spirit resides. What an encouraging message!
5. And in this place I will give peace – For the Jews living at that time, this was a wondrous promise. Their lives were filled with turmoil. They had grown up as exiles after disastrous wars had devastated their homes. If they had one wish, probably most of them would have wished for peace. Nowadays many of us take peace for granted. You have probably never experienced war on your soil. You have probably never seen the death and destruction it brings. Conflicts are few and far away.
Application: Do not take peace for granted! Living in a stable country with a stable government and no war is a great blessing and more valuable than any amount of money.
However, I think this promise is even more than peace as in the absence of war or conflict.
John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
One day God would send His Son, who would bring peace between man and God. This peace will reign in their hearts and no one can take it away. As wonderful as peace with other people is, peace with God is even better. Peace with God means He will not punish you for your sins and treat you as enemy. Instead, He treats you as His sons and daughters.
Application: Do you have this peace? Possessing this peace, what should you do with it?
E-book: If this study is helpful for you, get the complete Haggai study in one convenient e-book.
We want to help you study the Bible, obey the Bible, and teach the Bible to others. We have therefore created a library of almost one thousand (and growing) inductive Bible studies, which are available for free. This takes a lot of time and hard work as well as the growing expense of running the website.
Help us continue to create Bible study resources by supporting Study and Obey for as little as $1.