In our study of Haggai chapter two, we will look at the temple that was built when the Jews returned from exile. In this we will see the promise of Christ and our beautiful new home with Him.
On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 'Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, "Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing?"'
God sent the prophet to the leaders and to the people with His third message. The temple that they had built was not nearly as fancy as Solomon's temple and the questions that he asks point this out. We saw, in Ezra 3, how there was weeping from the older people when the foundation of the temple was laid. They had wept because they remembered how magnificent Solomon's temple had seemed compared to this rather humble new temple. They could not yet see the promised beauty of this humble house.
'"But now be strong, O Zerubbabel," declares the Lord. "Be strong, O Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land," declares the Lord, "and work. For I am with you," declares the Lord Almighty. "This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear."'
God reassures the people that His Spirit is with them in the building of this humble house. He reminds them of His promise to be with them and to be their God. God reminds them that they are blessed (without worry) because His Spirit is with them. This same promise is for us as our humble bodies have become the dwelling place of the Spirit. The call to work for Him applies to us as well. They were called to build the temple out of stone and other materials but we are called to build the temple in the hearts of our fellow men.
'This is what the Lord Almighty says: "In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory," says the Lord Almighty.'
This passage tells of the coming of Jesus Christ to the temple. This "little while" was over five hundred years but Jesus did bring glory (God's presence) to this humble house of God.
'"The silver is mine and the gold is mine," declares the Lord Almighty. "The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house," says the Lord Almighty, "And in this place I will grant peace," declares the Lord Almighty.'
This passage tells us of the mission of Jesus Christ which was to bring peace to man from God. The Jews were expecting this peace to come from following the religious practices and obeying the Mosaic Law because they did not realize that the law could not bring peace to man. The Jews were looking at the physical building and its furnishings but God was promising them (and us) something much more valuable.
On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Haggai: 'This is what the Lord Almighty says: "Ask the priests what the law says: If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated?"' The priests answered, 'No.' Then Haggai said, 'If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?' 'Yes,' the priests replied, 'it becomes defiled.'
On this day (December 24, 520 B.C.), the prophet delivers a message to the priests in the form of questions regarding the law. From these questions, we see that holiness is not transmitted by contact with an object. Just because they passed through the doors of a temple didn't mean that they were holy in God's sight. The same thing is true for us today, in that, just because you enter a "church building" it does not make you a Christian.
Then Haggai said, 'So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,' declares the Lord. 'Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.'
Because of their idolatry, their worship was not acceptable to the Lord.
'Now give careful thought to this from this day on - consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the Lord's temple. When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me,' declares the Lord.
God tells the people to look around them and remember how things were before this day. He had removed His hand of blessing from them and so they struggled to survive on their own. It is much the same with us before we come to accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. We struggle and struggle to get through the day on our own as God is waiting for us to call on Him.
'From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid. Give careful thought: Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit. From this day on I will bless you.'
The twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (in this Jewish calendar) is what we call Christmas Eve (December 24th). The prophet delivered this message to the exiles who were in Jerusalem but it is a beautiful promise to all men of the coming of Jesus Christ. God tells the people to look around them and see that there is nothing stored up from their own efforts but promises to bless them from this day forward. This is a picture of the fact that we cannot be saved by our own efforts but only through faith in Jesus Christ. We are truly blessed with a beautiful new home through Him.
The word of the Lord came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month: 'Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I will shake the heavens and the earth. I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms. I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall each by the sword of his brother.'
The first message on this day (Christmas Eve) was a promise of Jesus coming as a baby to die for our sins. This second message is the promise that Jesus is coming a second time to rule and reign on the earth. The prophet was to tell the leader of the people that Jesus would be coming to lead His people.
'"On that day,'" declares the Lord Almighty, "I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel," declares the Lord, "and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you," declares the Lord Almighty."'
A signet ring was used to identify royalty and especially to seal royal decrees. We see that God gave His authority to Zerubbabel and this promise was extended to us through Jesus Christ. In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18 -20), Jesus also made the disciples God's signet ring and, in Acts 2, it was extended to all believers. We are servants in this world but in our beautiful new home we will reign with God.