9 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Let your hands be strong, You who have been hearing in these days These words by the mouth of the prophets, Who spoke in the day the foundation was laid For the house of the Lord of hosts, That the temple might be built. 10 For before these days There were no wages for man nor any hire for beast; There was no peace from the enemy for whoever went out or came in; For I set all men, everyone, against his neighbor.
Verses 9-17 begin the second oracle in this chapter, a challenge to continue to rebuild the Temple. Verses 9-13 urge Israel to complete the rebuilding of the Temple.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Let your hands be strong,
This phrase was a challenge to the Jews to be strong in completing the rebuilding of the Temple. The returning exiles faced mighty challenging situations both from without the community and from within.
You who have been hearing in these days These words by the mouth of the prophets,
“In these days” refers to the time of Zechariah. The prophets would include Haggai and Zechariah himself (Ezra 5:1-2).
Who spoke in the day the foundation was laid For the house of the Lord of hosts,
This challenge was encouragement from both Zechariah and Haggai. The foundation of the second Temple was laid in 536 BC (Ezra 3:8-13).
That the temple might be built.
The people stopped rebuilding the Temple in 520 BC after rebuilding the altar in 536 BC. They did this because of opposition and other troubles (Ezra 4:1-5).
For before these days
“These days” is the time just before the Temple’s rebuilding began in 520 BC after a period of cessation. It was a time of little progress in fulfilling the divine mandate of rebuilding the Temple (Hag 1:6, 9-11; 2:16-19).
There were no wages for man nor any hire for beast;
The time of the rebuilding of the Temple was a period of economic distress. The workers did not possess the basic life necessities to work with felicity on the Temple. Their work would require personal sacrifice if they were to do the job.
There was no peace from the enemy for whoever went out or came in;
Israel’s enemies gave them no peace during the restructuring of the Temple.
For I set all men, everyone, against his neighbor.
God said that He turned “everyone against his neighbor.” There was a breakdown of social order by resentments, animosities, misunderstandings, and other social disorders among the returning exiles.
People constantly out of the will of God will suffer divine discipline.
Before God retrieved a remnant of godly Israelites, He disciplined the nation Israel by sending them into exile. They were in a state of disarray. They were in a condition of poverty, without jobs, and fighting one another. They had enemies without and within. All these things were a manifestation of divine discipline. Today, the church is in a place of discipline because she has forsaken the integrity of Scripture, failed to honor its imperatives, and is in rebellion against His will. God disciplines His people for this (He 12:6-7).