The temple will be beautiful
1 On the 21st day of the next month, the Lord spoke to Haggai, the prophet. 2 The Lord told Haggai that he must speak to Zerubbabel and to Joshua. (Zerubbabel was Shealtiel's son and he was the ruler of Judah. Joshua was the leader of the priests and he was Jehozadak's son.) The Lord also told Haggai that he must speak to all the people. This was the message that the Lord sent:
3 ‘Some of the people will remember that my temple was once very beautiful. You think that it is really not beautiful now. 4 But now, be strong and brave, Zerubbabel! And be strong and brave, Joshua, leader of the priests, son of Jehozadak! And be strong and brave, all you people in this country, and work! Work because I am with you,’ says the Lord Almighty. 5 ‘A long time ago, my people returned to their own country from Egypt. I promised them then that I would be with them. And I was with them. I will be with you, too. So, do not be afraid. And do not think that the work will be too difficult for you. My Spirit will stay here among you.
6 Soon, people will see that I am a powerful God. Soon, I will cause the skies and the earth to move. I will cause the sea and the land to move. 7 I will cause people in many countries to be afraid. They will come to your country and they will bring with them valuable gifts. And I will make my temple beautiful,’ says the Lord Almighty. 8 ‘All the silver and gold in the world is mine,’ says the Lord Almighty. 9 ‘I promise that this new temple will be more beautiful than the old temple. People will see my temple. And then they will know that I am a great God. I will also make this city a place where there is peace,’ says the Lord Almighty.
2:9Egypt is a country in Africa where the Jews were slaves. Now the Jews were living in their own country. They worked for many hours each day. They had to do this to get enough food. They did not have much time to build the temple. There were many things that they needed to build the temple. They did not have enough money to buy these things. But the Lord had always been with his people and he promised to help them. Then they would have the things that they needed to build his temple.
The Lord will be good to his people
10 Darius had been king for 1 year and 8 months and 23 days. Then the Lord Almighty spoke to Haggai the prophet again. 11 The Lord Almighty told Haggai that he must ask the priests a question about God's rules. 12 This was the question. ‘A person might be carrying some meat in his clothes. It is meat that he wants to give to God as a sacrifice. His clothes might touch some food. It might be bread. Or it might be food that he has cooked. It might be wine or oil. Or it might be some other food. Would the food that his clothes had touched become holy?’ The priests replied, ‘No.’
13 Haggai asked the priests another question. ‘If you touch a dead person, you become not holy. You know that. If you then touch any of these foods, would they become not holy?’ The priests replied, ‘Yes, they would.’
14 So Haggai answered, ‘That is how I thought about all the people in this country,’ says the Lord. ‘I was angry about all the things that you had done. I did not accept your sacrifices. 15 You have now started to build the Lord's temple again. Try to remember what life was like before that. 16 You wanted 20 pots of grain. But you found that there were only 10 pots. You wanted 50 jars of wine. But you found that there were only 20 jars. 17 I sent bad weather and I destroyed all your work. And the things that you picked from your fields were not good to eat. So you had to waste them. But you still did not return to me. And you did not say that I was your Lord. 18 Today, the 24th day of the ninth month, you have started to build my temple. Now this is what will happen to you: 19 You have not yet picked any seeds or grapes. You have not yet picked any figs or pomegranates. You have not yet picked any olives. But after today, I will be good to you. So then you will have as much as you need of all these things.’
2:19Haggai explained why their lives had been so difficult. They had not done what was right. They had not done the things that the Lord had asked them to do. They had done what they themselves had decided. That is why their lives had been so difficult. But now they want to obey God. And they have started to build his temple. And so God promises that they will have enough food. He promises that they will have happy lives.
20 On the same day, the 24th day of the month, the Lord spoke to Haggai again. This is what he said. 21 ‘Speak to Zerubbabel, who is the ruler of Judah. Tell him that I will cause the skies and the earth to move. 22 Tell him that I will remove foreign kings. And I will destroy their countries. I will destroy their chariots. And I will kill the soldiers who ride in them. The soldiers who ride on horses will start to kill each other. And they will kill each other's horses. 23 But I am the Lord Almighty and you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel are my servant. I have chosen you. And so, on that day, I will cause you to be like my special ring. I will keep you safe. And you will rule this country for me,’ says the Lord Almighty.
2:23Haggai gave this special message from the Lord to Zerubbabel. The Lord still ruled over everything. But he had chosen Zerubbabel to be his servant. The Lord wanted Zerubbabel to rule Judah on his behalf.