Haggai and Zechariah were probably among the first exiles who returned with Zerubbabel. From his words in 2:3, it is thought that possibly Haggai himself had seen the glory of Solomon's Temple, in which case he would be an old man at this time [cp. Ezra 3:12], while Zechariah was quite young (Zech 2:4).
The burden of Haggai's message was, ''I am with you, saith the Lord of Hosts'' (Hag 1:13).
To the prophet Haggai is given the privilege-- along with Zechariah-- of stirring the people, by his few concise words, to the work of rebuilding the Temple. His message may be summed up in the words, ''Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you'' [Mat 6:33].
He uttered [five] short prophecies during the last four months of the second year of Darius. [Each of these prophecies begins with this phrase: ''came the word of the Lord''.]
In the first [and second] [Hag 1:1-2, 3-11], he endeavored to shame the people out of their apathy in beautifying their own houses, while the house of the Lord lay waste; and he tells them that all the drought on crops and cattle had its source in this neglect [cp. Deu 28]. This prophecy produced the desired effect, and Zerubbabel, the governor of Jerusalem, and Joshua the High Priest, and the residue of the people rose up and began the work of rebuilding the Temple, which had been interrupted by their surrounding enemies, chiefly the Samaritans [cp. Ezra ch. 3 - 6].
A month later, discouragement seems to have beset the workers, at the contrast between the glory of the former house [ie., the Temple built by Solomon] and the poverty of this latter [house]. Haggai exhorted them to be strong and build, for the Lord was with them, His Spirit would remain among them, and, moreover, a time was coming when the Lord of Hosts would shake the heavens and the earth, and the Desire of all nations [would] come, and His glory [would] fill the Temple, so that the glory of this latter house should be greater than that of the former, and in this place would the Lord of Hosts give peace [Hag 2:1-9].
''Herod's Temple, to which our Lord came, was not a new Temple, but a renovation of this second Temple, with splendid additions and improvements. In Haggai's words, 'The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine, saith the Lord of Hosts,' we probably have a prophecy of its magnificence when adorned, at the cost of many millions, by Herod, so as to make it a glorious house, just before He whose house it was came to it, as it were in preparation for His august presence. Yet, the true glory was the presence of the ''Great King'' in His deep disguise as a peasant of Galilee'' (Rev. James Neil).
Haggai's message is full of stirring words to us today. If, as a Church, we thought more of the Lord's work of saving souls than of our own comfort, there would be no lack of means to carry it forward.
''Consider your ways,'' said Haggai; if we so adjust our ways as to make them fall into line with God's will for us, we have the certainty of His promise, ''I am with you, saith the Lord of Hosts.'' And if His Spirit remaineth among us, we need fear neither opposition from without, nor discouragement from within. [cp. Mat 28:18-20]