(Calvin on the Prophet Haggai. Part 4)
Lecture One Hundred and Thirty-first. 
    The Prophet, after having declared why it was necessary to add 
new stimulants, now exhorts Zerubbabel and Joshua, and also the 
people, to be courageous, and thus to proceed with the work. And he 
again repeats what he had said, that the Lord was with them; "I am 
with you", he says. Now this one thing is enough for us, that is, 
when God declares that he is with us; for his aid, we know, is 
stronger than the whole world, however Satan may on every side 
attempt to resist us. 
    He also adds, that his Spirit would be in the midst of them; 
and then he says, that there was no reason for them to fear. By his 
Spirit God means the power by which he strengthened their minds, 
that they might not give way to their trials, or, that fear might 
not hinder them. And what is particular is joined to what is 
general; for God is present with his own in various ways: but he 
especially shows, that he is present when, by his Spirit, he 
confirms weak minds. He then bids them all to be of a courageous 
mind. This is one thing. But he also shows whence this courage 
proceeded; for he sustained them by his Spirit when they were 
growing faint, or when they were not able to resist fears. The 
Prophet reminds them by these words, that courage was to be sought 
from God. 
    We hence learn that what belongs to our calling and duty is not 
required from us as though we were able to perform everything; but 
when the Lord, according to his own right, commands, he offers the 
help of his Spirit; and thus we ought to connect the promise of 
grace with the precept, of which foolish men take no notice, who 
deduce free will from what is commanded: for they thus reason - that 
it is in vain to require from us what is above our ability, and that 
as God requires us to form our life according to the rule of the 
highest perfection, it is therefore in our power to perform the 
highest justice. But the Prophet here, in the first place, exhorts 
Joshua and Zerubbabel, and the whole people, to be courageous, and 
then, he immediately adds, that the Spirit of God would be in the 
midst of them; as though he had said, that there was no reason for 
them to despond, though they had not sufficient strength in 
themselves; for courage was to be sought from the Spirit of God, who 
would dwell among them. In short, the Prophet teaches us that the 
faithful are so to strive as not to arrogate anything to themselves, 
but to offer themselves to be ruled by the Lord, that he may supply 
them with weapons as well as with strength, and thus conquer in 
them; for though the victory is ascribed to us it is yet certain 
that God conquers in us. 
    He then adds, "According to the word"; for so I render the 
particle "'et". They who think that the Jews are here reminded that 
it was their duty to obey God, and purely to serve him, and truly to 
keep his law, according to what he had commanded them when he 
brought them out of the land of Egypt, far depart from the design of 
the Prophet; for the Prophet pursues the same subject; and in the 
latter clause he confirms what I have just mentioned - that the 
Spirit of God would be in the midst of them. He therefore shows that 
he promises nothing new, but what God had formerly engaged to give 
to their fathers. If any one prefers taking the particle "'et" in an 
explicative sense, I do not object; for the meaning would be the 
same - that this is the word which he had promised. The object of 
the Prophet is by no means doubtful; for he means to teach us that 
God is faithful and constant in his promises, and that the Jews 
would find this to be the case, for he would perform what he had 
formerly promised to their fathers. "The word, he says, which I had 
covenanted with you when I brought you out of Egypt". For the 
Prophets were wont to remind the faithful of the ancient covenant, 
that they might gain more credit to their special prophecies. We 
indeed know that whatever God had promised to the Jews, was founded 
on their first adoption. When, therefore, the Prophets brought 
forward the ancient covenant, it was the same as though they led the 
Jews back to the fountain itself; for the promises, which now and 
then occurred, were like streams which flowed from the first spring, 
even their gratuitous covenant. 
    We now then see why an express mention is made of the ancient 
compact which God had made with the chosen people at their departure 
out of Egypt. 
    It must also be observed, that God became then the Redeemer of 
his people, in order to be their eternal Father, and thus to be the 
perpetual guardian of their safety. Hence the design of what the 
Prophet says is to show that their fathers were not formerly 
redeemed, that their children might reject God, but that he might 
continue his favour to his people to the end. But the ultimate issue 
is to be found in Christ, that is, the full accomplishment; for God 
does not cease to show kindness in him to his chosen people, but 
performs much more fully and abundantly what he had previously 
exhibited under types and shadows. For whatever he conferred on his 
ancient Church, was, as it were, a prelude of his vast bounty, which 
was at length made known by the coming of Christ. 
    We now clearly apprehend what the Prophet meant: For he 
upbraided the Jews for their stupidity, because they did not 
consider that their fathers were formerly delivered from Egypt, that 
God might defend them to the end. Hence he bids them maturely to 
examine the design and character of the covenant which God made at 
their departure from Egypt; for he entered into covenant with them, 
that he might be their Redeemer, and confer on them the fulness of 
all blessings. Since it is so, he says, the time is now come when 
God will perform what he then promised to your fathers; and whatever 
faithfulness ye have hitherto found in God, ought to be applied for 
this end - that ye may feel assured that ye have been now restored 
to your country, in order that he might re-establish his Church, and 
that ye might not continue in that low condition, which now 
depresses your minds. As then ye ought to look for that fulness of 
happiness which God formerly promised, either his covenant is void 
and he unfaithful, or ye ought with cheerfulness and alacrity to 
proceed with the work. It follows - 
Haggai 2:6-9 
6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it [is] a little 
while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and 
the dry [land]; 
7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall 
come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of 
8 The silver [is] mine, and the gold [is] mine, saith the LORD of 
9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the 
former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give 
peace, saith the LORD of hosts. 
    Here the Prophet expresses more clearly, and confirms more 
fully, what I have said - that God would in time bring help to the 
miserable Jews, because he would not disappoint the assurance given 
to the fathers. This declaration, then, depends on the covenant 
before mentioned; and hence the causative particle is used, For thus 
saith Jehovah of hosts, as yet a small one it is, or, yet shortly, I 
will fill this house with glory. The expression "a small thing," 
most interpreters aptly to time. Yet there are those who think the 
subject itself is denoted. The more received opinion is, that it 
means a small duration, a short time, because God would soon make a 
change for the better. "Though then there does not as yet appear the 
accomplishment of the promises, by which ye have hitherto supported 
your faith and your hope, yet after a short time God will really 
prove that he has spoken nothing falsely to you." 
    There are yet some, as I have said, who think that the matter 
itself is denoted by the Prophet, even that the Temple did not yet 
appear in splendour before the eyes of men, a small one it is, that 
is, "Ye see not indeed a building such as that was, before the 
Assyrians and the Chaldeans took possession of the city; but let not 
your eyes remain fixed on the appearance of this Temple." Let then 
this small one as yet pass by; but in a short time this house will 
be filled with glory. 
    With regard to the main object, it was the Prophet's design to 
strengthen the minds of the godly, that they might not think that 
the power of God was inefficient, though he had not as yet performed 
what they had hoped. In short, they were not to judge by present 
appearances of what had been previously said of their redemption. We 
said yesterday that the minds of the godly were heavily depressed, 
because the Prophets had spoken in high terms of the Temple as well 
as of the kingdom: the kingdom was as yet nothing; and the temple 
was more like a shed than what might have been compared in glory 
with the former Temple. It was hence necessary for the Prophet to 
meet this objection; and this is the reason why he bids them to 
overlook the present appearance, and to think of the glory which was 
yet hidden. As yet, he says, it is a small one; that is, "There is 
no reason for you to despair, though the grandeur of the Temple does 
not as yet appear to be so great as you have conceived; but, on the 
contrary, let your minds pass over to that restoration which is 
still far distant. As yet then a small one it is; and I will move 
the heavens and the earth. 
    In a word, God here bids them to exercise patience, until he 
should put forth the ineffable power of his hand to restore fully 
his Church; and this is what is meant by the shaking of the heaven 
and the earth. 
    But this is a remarkable passage. The Jews indeed, who are very 
absurd in everything connected with the kingdom of Christ, pervert 
what is here said by the Prophet, and even reduce it to nothing. But 
the Apostle in Heb. 12 reminds us of what God means here. For this 
passage contains an implied contrast between the law and the gospel, 
between redemption, just mentioned here, and that which was to be 
expected, and was at length made known by the coming of Christ. God, 
then, when he redeemed his people from Egypt, as well as from 
Babylon, moved the earth: but the Prophet announces here something 
greater - that God would shake the heaven and the earth. But that 
the meaning of the Prophet may appear more evident, each sentence 
must be examined in order. 
    He says first, this once, shortly. I am inclined to apply this 
to time, that I may not depart from what is commonly received. But 
there is no reason for us to contend on the subject, because it 
makes little or no difference as to the main point. For we have said 
that what the Prophet had in view was to show that the Jews were not 
to fix their eyes and their minds on the appearance of the Temple at 
the time: "Allow," he says, "and give place to hope, because your 
present state shall not long remain; for the Lord will shake the 
heaven and the earth; think then of God's power, how great it is; 
does he not by his providence rule both the earth and the heaven? 
And ho will shake all things above and below, rather than not to 
restore his Church; he will rather change the appearance of the 
whole world, than that redemption should not be fully accomplished. 
Be not then unwilling to be satisfied with these preludes, but know 
what God's power can do: for though it may be necessary to throw the 
heaven and the earth into confusions, yet this shall be done, rather 
than that your enemies should prevent that full restoration, of 
which the Prophets have so often spoken." But the Apostle very 
justly says, that the gospel is here set in contrast with the law; 
for God exhibited his wonderful power, when the law was promulgated 
on mount Sinai; but a fuller power shone forth at the coming of 
Christ, for then the heaven, as well as the earth, was shaken. It is 
not, then, without reason that the Apostle concludes that God speaks 
now to us from heaven, for his majesty appears more splendid in the 
gospel than formerly in the law: and hence we are less excusable, if 
we despise him now speaking in the person of his only begotten Son, 
and thus speaking to show to us that the whole world is subject to 
    He then adds, "I will move all the nations, and they shall 
come". After having mentioned the heaven and the earth, he now shows 
that he would arrest the attention of all mortals, so as to turn 
them according to his will, in any way it may please him: Come, he 
says, shall all nations - How? because I shall shake them. Here 
again the Prophet teaches us that men come not to Christ except 
through the wonderful agency of God. He might have spoken more 
simply, "I will lead all nations," as it is said elsewhere; but his 
purpose was to express something more, even that the impulse by 
which God moves his elect to betake themselves to the fold of Christ 
is supernatural. Shaking seems a forcible act. Lest men, then, 
should obscure the power of God, by which they are roused that they 
may obey Christ, and submit to his authority, it is here by the 
Prophet expressed by this term, in order that they might understand 
that the Lord does not work in an usual or common manner, when they 
are thus changed. 
    But it must be also observed, that men are thus powerfully, and 
in an extraordinary or supernatural manner influenced, so that they 
follow spontaneously at the same time. The operation of God is then 
twofold; for it is first necessary to shake men, that they may 
unlearn their whole character, that is, that forgetting their former 
nature, they may willingly receive the yoke of Christ. We indeed 
know how great is our perverseness, and how unnameable we are, until 
God subdues us by his Spirit. There is need in such a case of a 
violent shaking. But we are not forced to obey Christ, as lions and 
wild beasts are, who indeed yield, but still retain their inward 
ferocity, and roar, though led in chains and subdued by scourges and 
beatings. We are not, then, so shaken, that our inward rebellion 
remains in us; but we are shaken, so that our disposition is 
changed, and we receive willingly the yoke of Christ. This is the 
reason why the Prophet says, "I will shake all nations, and they 
shall come"; that is, there will be indeed a wonderful conversion, 
when the nations who previously despised God, and regarded true 
religion and piety with the utmost hatred, shall habituate 
themselves to the ruling power of God: and they shall come, because 
they shall be so drawn by his hidden influence, that the obedience 
they shall render will be voluntary. We now perceive the meaning of 
the Prophet. 
    He afterwards adds, "The desire of all nations". This admits of 
two explanations. The first is, that nations shall come and bring 
with them everything that is precious, in order to consecrate it to 
the service of God; for the Hebrews call whatever is valuable a 
desire; so that under this term they include all riches, honours, 
pleasures, and everything of this kind. Hence some render the 
passage thus, "I will shake all nations, and come shall the desire 
of all nations." As there is a change of number; others will have 
"beth", or "mem", to be understood, "They shall come with what they 
desire;" that is, the nations shall not come empty, but shall gather 
all their treasures to be a holy oblation to God. But we may 
understand what he says of Christ, Come shall the desire of all 
nations, and I will fill this house with glory. We indeed know that 
Christ was the expectation of the whole world, according to what is 
said by Isaiah. And it may be properly said, that when the desire of 
all nations shall come, that is, when Christ shall be manifested, in 
whom the wishes of all ought to centre, the glory of the second 
Temple shall then be illustrious; but as it immediately follows, 
"Mine is the silver, and mine is the gold", the more simple meaning 
is that which I first stated - that the nations would come, bringing 
with them all their riches, that they might offer themselves and all 
their possessions as a sacrifice to God. 
    It is, then, better to read what follows as an explanation, 
"Mine is the silver, mine is the gold, saith Jehovah"; that is, "I 
have not through want of money deferred hitherto the complete 
building of the Temple; for what can hinder me from amassing gold 
and silver from all quarters? Should it so please me, I could in a 
short time build a Temple by all the wealth of the world. Is it not 
indeed in my power to create mountains of gold and silver, by which 
I might erect for myself a Temple? Ye hence see that wealth is not 
wanting to me to build the Temple which I have promised; but the 
time is not arrived. Therefore they who believe the preceding 
predictions, ought to wait and to look forward, until the suitable 
time shall come." This is the import of the passage. 
    He at length declares that the glory of the second temple would 
be greater than that of the first, and that there would be peace in 
that place. As to the words there is nothing obscure; but we ought 
especially to attend to what is said. 
    It must, indeed, be first observed, that what is said here of 
the future glory of the Temple is to be applied to the excellency of 
those spiritual blessings which appeared when Christ was revealed, 
and are still conspicuous to us through faith; for ungodly men are 
so blind that they see them not. And this we must bear in mind, lest 
we dream like some gross interpreters, who think that what is here 
said was in part fulfilled when Herod reconstructed the Temple. For 
though that was a sumptuous building, yet there is no doubt but that 
it was an attempt of the Devil to delude the Jews, that they might 
cease to hope for Christ. Such was also, probably, the craft of 
Herod. We indeed know that he was only a half-Jew. He professed 
himself to be one of Abraham's children; but he accommodated his 
habits, we know, to those of the Jews, oddly for his own advantage. 
That they might not look for Christ, this delusive and empty 
spectacle was presented to them, so as almost to astound them. 
Though this, however, may not have entered into the mind of Herod, 
it is yet certain that the Devil's design was to present to the Jews 
this deceptive shade, that they might not raise up their thoughts to 
look for the coming of Christ, as the time was then near at hand. 
    God might, indeed, immediately at the beginning have caused a 
magnificent temple to be built: as he had allowed a return to the 
people, so he might have given them courage, and supplied them with 
materials, to render the latter Temple equal or even superior to the 
Temple of Solomon. But Cyrus prohibited by an edict the Temple to be 
built so high, and he also made its length somewhat smaller: Why was 
this done? and why also did Darius do the same, who yet liberally 
helped the Jews, and spared no expense in building the Temple? How 
was it that both these kings, though guided by the Spirit of God, 
did not allow the Temple to be built with the same splendour with 
which it had been previously erected? This did not happen without 
the wonderful counsel of God; for we know how gross in their notions 
the Jews had been, and we see that even the Apostles were entangled 
in the same error; for they expected that the kingdom of Christ 
would be no other than an earthly one. Had then this Temple been 
equally magnificent with the former, and had the kingdom become such 
as it had been, the Jews would have acquiesced in these outward 
pomps; so that Christ would have been despised, and God's spiritual 
favour would have been esteemed as nothing. Since, then, they were 
so bent on earthly happiness, it was necessary for them to be 
awakened; and the Lord had regard to their weakness, by not allowing 
a splendid Temple to be built. But in suffering a counterfeit Temple 
to be built by Herod, when the manifestation of Christ was nigh, he 
manifested his vengeance by punishing their ingratitude, rather than 
his favour; and I call it counterfeit, because its splendour was 
never approved by God. Though Herod spent great treasures on that 
building, he yet profaned rather than adorned the Temple. Foolishly, 
then, do some commemorate what Helena, queen of Adiabenians, had 
laid out, and think that thus a credit is in some measure secured to 
this prophecy. But it was on the contrary Satan who attempted to 
deceive by such impostures and crafts, that he might draw away the 
minds of the godly from the beauty of the spiritual Temple. 
    But why does the prophet mention gold and silver? He did this 
in conformity with what was usual and common; for whenever the 
Prophets speak of the kingdom of Christ, they delineate or describe 
its splendour in figurative terms, suitable to their own age. When 
Isaiah foretells the restoration of the Church, he declares that the 
Church would be all gold and silver, and whatever glittered with 
precious stones; and in ch. 60 he especially sets forth the 
magnificence of the Temple, as though nations from all parts were to 
bring for sacrifice all their precious things. But Isaiah speaks 
figuratively, as all the other Prophets do. So then what we read of 
gold and of silver ought to be so explained as to be applied 
mystically to the kingdom of Christ; as we have already observed 
respecting Mal. 1: 11 - 'They shall offer to me, saith the Lord, 
pure sacrifices from the rising to the setting of the sun.' What are 
these sacrifices? Are heifers yet to be offered, or lambs, or other 
animals? By no means; but we must regard the spiritual character of 
the priesthood; for as the gold of which the Prophet now speaks, and 
the silver, ought to be taken in a spiritual sense; for since Christ 
has appeared in the world, it is not God's will to be served with 
gold and silver vessels; so also there is no altar on which victims 
are to be sacrificed, and no candlestick; in a word, all the symbols 
of the law have ceased. It hence follows that the Prophet speaks of 
the spiritual ornaments of the Temple. And thus we perceive how the 
glory of the second Temple is to be greater than that of the first. 
    It then follows, that God "would give peace in this place;" as 
though he had said that it would be well with the Jews if they only 
waited patiently for the complete fulfilment of redemption. But it 
must be observed, that this peace was not so evident to them that 
they could enjoy it according to the perception of the flesh; but it 
was that kind of peace of which Paul speaks, and which, he says, 
exceeds all understanding (Phil. 4: 7.) In short, the people could 
not have comprehended what the Prophet teaches here respecting the 
future splendour of the Temple, except they leaped over all the 
obstacles which seemed to obstruct the progress of complete 
redemption; and so it was ever necessary for them to have recourse 
to this truth - "yet a little while"; as though he said that they 
were patiently to endure while God was exercising their faith: but 
that the time would come, and that shortly, when the Lord would fill 
that house with glory that is, when Christ would bring witch him all 
fulness of glory; for though they were to gather the treasures of a 
thousand worlds into one mass, such a glory would yet be 
corruptible; but when God the Father appeared in the person of his 
own Son, he then glorified indeed his Temple; and his majesty shone 
forth so much that there was nothing wanting to a complete 
    Grant, Almighty God, that since we are by nature extremely 
prone to superstition, we may carefully consider what is the true 
and right way of serving thee, such as thou dost desire and approve, 
even that we offer ourselves spiritually to thee, and seek no other 
altar but Christ, and relying on no other priest, hope to be 
acceptable and devoted to thee, that he may imbue us with the Spirit 
which has been fully poured on him, so that we may from the heart 
devote ourselves to thee, and thus proceed patiently in our course, 
that with minds raised upwards we may ever go on towards that glory 
which is as yet hid under hope, until it shall at length be 
manifested in due time, when thine only-begotten Son shall appear 
with the elect angels for our final redemption. Amen. 

(Calvin... on the Prophet Haggai)

(continued in Part 5...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: cvhag-04.txt