On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, Tishri, the Feast of Tabernacles, or Succoth began (Lev 23:39-43). This feast recalled the wilderness wanderings of Israel when God graciously provided for his people. It also celebrated the gourd and vineyard harvest, the fruits of the land for which the Conquest under Joshua's leadership was carried out. The occasion formed the background for Haggai's next address as the twenty-first of this month (2:1) was the last day of the feast.
Haggai began the message (2:3) with three rhetorical questions that collectively were designed to identify the complaints of the people. Some were grumbling that the community was not economically able to finish the temple in the same grandiose style as Solomon, who had used fine woods and gold to decorate its interior (2Ch 3:5-9).
In v. 4 Haggai exhorted three times that the leaders and people were to be strong. This exhortation is similar to the Lord's command to Joshua on the eve of the Conquest (Jos 1:6-9). Haggai intentionally drew lessons from the Feast of Tabernacles and the beginning of the Conquest to encourage the community in the work it was facing. Israel would have perished in the wilderness or failed in the invasion if God has not been with her. What guaranteed success was not the people's ability but God's presence. Similarly he was now present with them to complete their task. They possessed adequate resources, for God was among them. The temple would be rebuilt if only they did not lose the inner drive to complete the task. The question was not one of resources but one of faith.
Haggai concluded his message with an appeal to the future (vv. 6-9), when the Lord Almighty will shake the whole creation. The metaphor of an earthquake is extended to describe another political upheaval similar to when Darius took the throne. In a future shaking of the nations, God will cause the wealth of the nations to flow into the temple so that it might be decorated in a manner more splendid than Solomon's. The “desire of all nations” means the precious things, or silver and gold, of the nations.
The emphasis of the passage falls on the presence of the Lord Almighty or Yahweh Seba'ot, Haggai's favorite name for God, which he uses five times in these three verses.