Old Testament Lesson 50 (Haggai; Zechariah)
December 5–11


Daniel Intervenes Again

●  Jeremiah 25:10–12   Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the length of Judah’s captivity.
      Jeremiah 29:10

●  Daniel 9:1–3   Daniel determined that 70 years had now passed.

●  Daniel 9:17–19   Daniel undertook through prayer to obtain a commitment from the Lord during the first year of the reign of Darius (522 BC),

●  Daniel 9:24   Gabriel (Noah) answered and assured Daniel that the time was correct and that the promises of the Lord would all be fulfilled.


At almost exactly the same time Daniel was receiving this revelation in Babylon (520 BC), the Lord was raising up two inspired prophets in Jerusalem—Haggai and Zechariah.

●  Ezra 4:24–5:5   Haggai and Zechariah inspired the people to complete the temple.
      Haggai 1:1–5, 12–14
      Zechariah 4:9

The Book of Haggai

Haggai was one of the twelve prophets of the Old Testament with shorter books (though by no means reflecting messages of lesser import).

This book was written around 520 BC, shortly after the return of Judah from exile in Babylon. Its purpose was to energize the people to devoted action in building the temple of the Lord and to cause them to look forward in hope to the last days when the Lord will return in glory to reign in peace among the righteous.

The key section of the book is Haggai’s vision in chapter 2 of the Second Coming and the establishment of the future temple of unsurpassed glory.

The Teachings of Haggai

●  Haggai 1:1–6   Haggai said their hardships were caused by their neglect in building the temple.

●  Haggai 1:9–11   “Consider your ways.”  The consequences of disobedience: The Lord directly tied the poverty of the people and the sterility of the land to their failure to heed the commandment to rebuild the Lord’s house.

Elder L. Tom Perry said, “I have read this great scripture and continue to be impressed with how clearly the Old Testament prophet describes the conditions of today. Almost daily we read of those who invest for little return. We eat food so refined that the nourishment is lacking. We witness the drink that can never satisfy the thirst for those who drink; the dressing for style, rather than warmth, comfort, and modesty; the high wages of the wage earner today which still do not satisfy or supply his needs . . .  Our unconquered appetites and consuming drive for material possessions appear to be leading us on a course so often repeated in history. Greed, lust, and desire historically have only led mankind to waste, destruction, and suffering . . .  Isn’t this the time and isn’t this the hour to follow the admonition of the Lord to ‘consider your ways’?”
(endnote: 1)

Elder James E. Talmage said, “‘Material belongings, relative wealth or poverty, physical environment—the things on which we are prone to set our hearts and anchor our aspirations, the things for which we sweat and strive, ofttimes at the sacrifice of happiness and to the forfeiture of real success—these after all are but externals, the worth of which in the reckoning to come shall be counted in terms of the use we have made of them.”
(endnote: 2)

●  Haggai 1:7–8, 12–15   Haggai promised blessings if they would continue the reconstruction.

— D&C 95   Similar problems and promises at the Kirtland Temple.

— D&C 124:31–55   Similar problems and promises at the Nauvoo Temple.

●  Haggai 2:1–9   The Lord speaks of His coming and of the temple’s future glory.

— vv. 6–7   The Lord will shake “the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land..and..all nations” when he comes in glory to usher in the Millennium.

— v. 7   The “desire of all nations shall come” is a messianic prophecy of Christ.  His house will be filled with glory and peace will be established.

— v. 9   “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former.” Haggai prophesied of a future temple that would surpass Solomon’s in glory and splendor and would be the place where the Lord would give his people peace. This prophecy will have fulfillment in the promised latter-day temple that will yet be built on the same site.

●  Haggai 2:10–19   “Holy flesh” and being “unclean by a dead body.” Israel is utterly unclean on account of its neglect of the house of Jehovah, like a man who has become unclean through touching a corpse. Everything that Israel takes hold of, or upon which it lays its hand, everything that it plants and cultivates, is from the very first affected with the curse of uncleanness; and consequently, even the sacrifices which it offers there upon the altar of Jehovah are unclean.
(endnote: 3)

— vv. 15–17   The uncleanness was the reason the land was so unproductive.

— v. 18–19   But when the Jews had repented and begun the work on the temple, the curse was to be lifted and the Lord promised his blessing.

●  Haggai 2:20–23   The Lord affirmed Zerubbabel’s position as governor of Judah.

Darius Reiterates the Decree of Cyrus

●  Ezra 5:3   Renewed energy in building the temple attracted the attention of their old enemies.

●  Ezra 5:9–10   The Persian governor of all Syro-Palestine challenged Zerubbabel’s authority to use all these resources and manpower to construct this temple.

●  Ezra 5:17   When Zerubbabel claimed they had authority from King Cyrus, the Persian governor wrote a letter to King Darius asking if there was any such decree.

●  Ezra 6:4   No such edict could be found in Babylon, but an exhaustive search located it in a royal palace in one of the provinces of the Medes. It had been lost and forgotten.

●  Ezra 6:7–12   Darius honored the decree of Cyrus.

— He recognized the role of God in the affairs of men.
— He had adopted the religion of Zoroastrianism for the Persian empire.
— He believed the God he worshiped also wanted the temple rebuilt.
— He ended by saying that any man or woman who failed to carry out this decree would have a scaffold built from the boards of his own home and be hanged thereon (v. 11).

●  Ezra 6:13   When the governor of Syro-Palestine received this letter he rallied his officers around him and whatever King Darius had told them to do, “so they did speedily”.


●  Ezra 6:13–22   The temple is finished in time for the Passover.

— In the sixth year of Darius (516 BC), after a lapse of only four years, the temple was completed.
— It lacked the embellishments of Solomon’s temple.
— It also lacked the Ark of the Covenant.
— The Holy of Holies was empty except for the outcropping of natural rock.

Elder James E. Talmage said:

“It is known in history as the Temple of Zerubbabel. In general plan, it was patterned after the Temple of Solomon, though in many of its dimensions it exceeded its prototype. The court was divided into a section for priests only and another for the public; according to Josephus, the division was effected by a wooden railing. An altar of unhewn stone was erected in place of the great brazen altar of old. The Holy Place was graced by but one candlestick instead of ten; and by a single table for the shew-bread instead of the ten tables overlaid with gold which stood in the first Temple. We read also of a golden altar of incense, and of some minor appurtenances. The Most Holy Place was empty, for the Ark of the Covenant had not been known after the people had gone into captivity.

“In many respects, the Temple of Zerubbabel appeared poor in comparison with its splendid predecessor, and in certain particulars, indeed, it ranked lower than the ancient Tabernacle of the Congregation—the sanctuary of the nomadic tribes. Critical scholars specify the following features characteristic of the Temple of Solomon and lacking in the Temple of Zerubbabel: (1) the Ark of the Covenant; (2) the sacred fire; (3) the Shekinah, or glory of the Lord, manifested of old as the Divine Presence; (4) the Urim and Thummim, by which Jehovah made plain His will to the priests of the Aaronic order; (5) the genius or spirit of prophecy, indicative of the closest communion between mortals and their God. Notwithstanding these differences, the Temple of Zerubbabel was recognized of God and was undoubtedly the site or seat of Divine revelation to duly constituted prophets.”
(endnote: 4)

— The temple of Zerubbabel is the one that King Herod refurbished. He added many courtyards and surrounding buildings that made it one of the wonders of the world at the time of Jesus.

●  Nehemiah 2:8; 7:2   A palace was built in the northwest part of the temple block for the governor.

— This was the same building as that which was known during the Roman domination as the Fortress Antonia.

— There is no mention of Zerubbabel after the temple was completed.
— After his time, the leadership of the community was held by the priests.
— This theocratic government was permitted by the Persians and for a time by Alexander the Great.


The Branch

●  Zechariah 3:8–10; 6:12–15   Zechariah spoke of the “Branch” who will be king of Israel.

— Isaiah 11:1–5   Isaiah also spoke of the Branch from the “stem” (tree) of Jesse.
— D&C 113:1–2    The interpretation is given in modern scripture: the Branch is Christ.
— John 15:4–6   Jesus explained his relationship to us as the “Branch.”

The King of Judah

●  Zechariah 3:   Joshua was the high priest of the time. But in typical Jewish fashion, Joshua (Hebrew, Yeshua, Greek Hee-ay-sous, English, Jesus) is a type of Jesus Christ, the great high priest (Hebrews 4:14). This chapter is therefore messianic in nature.

●  Zechariah 9:9   The King of Israel will come riding upon an ass—which symbolized a king coming in peace rather than as a conqueror.

—  Matthew 21:1–11   Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem fulfilled Zechariah’s prophecy.
John 12:12–16

●  Zechariah 13:1   A reference to baptism—a “fountain” by which they will obtain forgiveness.

●  Zechariah 11:10–13   The True Shepherd will be sold for thirty pieces of silver.

— Matthew 26:15    Judas bargained for him and charged this price.
— Matthew 27:3–5   He realized too late what he had done.

●  Zechariah 13:7–9   The “shepherd who would be smitten” is Jesus Christ.

— v. 8   The “two parts” of Israel who shall “die [be separated]” from the land are (1) the lost 10 tribes of Israel, and (2) the dispersed of Israel led out of the land by the Lord, like Lehi.

— v. 9   The “third” part that “shall be left therein” refers to Jews who will be tested “through the fire” and refined.”

●  Zechariah 9:11–12   He will free the “prisoners of hope” in the spirit world.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “Zechariah prophesied . . . as part of a longer Messianic utterance . . . of ‘prisoners of hope;’ it was of these that he gave assurance that ‘the Lord their God shall save them.’ . . .   ‘By the blood of the covenant’—that is, because of the gospel covenant, which is efficacious because of the shedding of the blood of Christ ‘I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.’ . . .   How aptly and succinctly this crystallizes the thought that the saving water, which is baptism, is an earthly ordinance and cannot be performed by spirit beings while they dwell in the spirit world.”
(endnote: 5)

●  Zechariah 10:6–12   The True Shepherd will gather his flock.

Elder LeGrand Richards said: “From these scriptures . . . it is evident the Lord had definitely in mind that no matter how Israel would be scattered, He would eventually bring them together again. How could His promises to Abraham be fulfilled without accomplishing this objective?  Zechariah called attention to the fact that “Ephraim shall be like a mighty man . . . and I will sow them among the people . . . and they shall remember me in far countries.” This prophecy seems to attach importance to the House of Joseph, and to what their prophets might have to say . . .  This implies that Israel will point the way to Judah, and that . . . the Stick of Joseph would perform a great mission in making plain unto Judah many important matters which they hitherto have not understood.”
(endnote: 6)

●  Zechariah 14:8   The “living waters” that shall go out of Jerusalem are the waters of the river beheld by Ezekiel (47:1–12) and the fountain that “shall come forth of the house of the Lord” seen by Joel (3:18) and John the Revelator (Rev. 22:1).

●  Zechariah 14:10   The clause “it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place” could have been translated, “Jerusalem shall rise and dwell in her place.”


The Branch

●  Zechariah 3:8–10; 6:12–15   Zechariah spoke of the “Branch” who will be king of Israel.

— Isaiah 11:1–5   Isaiah also spoke of the Branch from the “stem” (tree) of Jesse.
— D&C 113:1–2   The interpretation is given in modern scripture: the Branch is Christ.

●  John 15:4–6   Jesus explained his relationship to us as the “Branch.”


1: In Conference Report, Apr. 1973, 14; or Ensign, July 1973, 20.

2: The Vitality of Mormonism, 1919, 352.

3: Keil Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, 10:2:204–205.

4: House of the Lord, 42–43.

5: The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ [1978], 241.

6: Israel! Do You Know? [1954],  46.

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