...

Rev. Hanko is pastor in the Protestant Reformed Church of Lynden, Washington.

 

The Second Prophecy (cont.)

 

6. For thus saith the Lord of hosts; yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;

7. And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.

Christ is this Desire of the nations of whom Haggai prophesies. He is desirable, as the one described in Psalm 45:2:

Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips; therefore God hath blessed thee for ever.

He is desirable, as the one in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3), as the one who is the only-begotten Son of God come in the flesh, as the Savior of sinners, whose blood is more precious than gold or silver. He is desirable in His person, in His works, and in His gifts—as the one in whom we are chosen of God, our Redeemer, Deliverer, Intercessor, and Judge. There is nothing undesirable about Him, and the fact that so many do not desire Him is not a reflection on His glory but a testimony to their blindness.

That body of Christ, which is the true temple of God, is not only His own flesh and blood, assumed through the incarnation, but also His church. We are, as Paul says in Ephesians 5:30, “members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” That is, as Paul also admits in Ephesians 5 (v. 32), a very great mystery, but it is the mystery of Christ and the church. The prophecy of Haggai 2:7, therefore, is a prophecy of the rebuilding of the temple, not as a house made with hands, but in its true spiritual reality. It is a prophecy of Christ as Immanuel, God with us. It is a prophecy of the realization of God’s covenant in Christ.

In that way, God’s house is filled with glory, glory that far transcends the splendor of Solomon’s temple. The glory of that true temple is the glory of the living God Himself revealed in Jesus Christ as the God of His people. The Lord of hosts Himself guarantees it. As Lord of hosts He uses even Herod and Pontius Pilate, the Jews and the Gentiles, in their rebellion against Him and His Son, to insure that that house be built on everlasting foundations and that each stone of which that house is built be chosen and precious in relation to the chief cornerstone.

That He is the desire of all nations means that the true house of God, that spiritual temple called the church, would be the place of God’s covenant, not for one nation, the Jews, but for all the nations of the world, that is, for God’s elect out of every nation. In that way, too, God would add to the glory of His house in the latter days until its glory would outshine the glory of Solomon’s temple as the light of the sun outshines a little flickering candle. God prophesies through Haggai the gathering of the Gentiles and the building of that house in which the Gentiles would be no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets and on Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone, an habitation of God through the Spirit.

8. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts

Having spoken of the future glory of His house, God reminds the Jews and us that the glory of His house is not in externals but in Christ. When He says that the gold and silver are all His, He refers to all the gold and silver that the world contains, and He asserts His sovereign ownership of them as Creator. He does that by way of telling Judah that if He had wanted this earthly temple that they were building to be gloriously decorated with gold and silver, He could very well have seen to that. The fact that He had not given them gold and silver as He had to Solomon was proof that He did not want this house to be externally glorious. Solomon had used 600 talents of gold just in the holy of holies in the first temple. This temple was plain and unadorned.

Yet God did provide for them. Ezra tells us that when the Jews began again to build, they were confronted by the provincial governor. Tatnai asked what they were doing. Instead of ceasing the work, they continued, and when a formal inquiry was made by Darius, they answered him by letter and told the story of how Cyrus had sent them back for the express purpose of rebuilding the temple. That letter initiated a search through the records of Babylon that confirmed what the Jews had written, and Darius, instead of ordering the work stopped, commanded Tatnai to let the work alone and to provide the people with money for the building and with animals and other commodities for the sacrifices.

God did not provide enough gold and silver to make this temple as glorious as Solomon’s, but He did prove in these events that He was able to do so if He wanted to. That He did not was something the people had to learn.

There is a lesson in that also for us as members of the New Testament church. Even now the glory of the church is not to be determined by the number of her members—though the elect will be in glory a multitude that no man can number—nor by pomp and circumstance and elaborate liturgies. It is not in a multitude of programs and ministries, not in earthly wealth and power, not in expensive buildings, but solely in the fact that the church is the body of Christ, joined in Him to God Himself, and beloved of God.

9. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.

This latter house is not the building that the Jews were erecting, but the true temple, called in verse 7 the Desire of all nations. The earthly house built in Jerusalem in the days of Haggai never had any earthly glory. It remained an empty shell, without ark or holy fire or cloud of glory. Some suggest that the building was made glorious when Christ actually walked in it, but that was really a different temple, usually referred to as Herod’s temple, and even Christ’s presence in it could not make it anything more than it was, an earthly building that was little used for the true worship of God and often used as a den of merchandise.

God, therefore, is teaching His people to look for the coming of Christ by taking away the external and earthly splendor of the temple. Because it was a little while until the coming of the Desire of all nations, the earthly house, which had been Israel’s desire through all its history, had to begin to decrease in order that He might increase. The necessity of that is seen in the attitude of the Jews who lived at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. They were so enamored of the building that they did not recognize or want Him who was the true temple of God. They rejected and crucified Him, though He was the fulfillment of everything their beloved temple pictured. And so, in the end, God took even that away from them.

The glory of the true temple would be the promised peace of which God speaks through Haggai. For the Jews, that peace was due to God’s protection from their enemies the Samaritans, whom God forced to provide the things necessary for the temple and its worship. That peace, however, would not last forever, and indeed soon departed from them. We see, then, that God had a better peace in mind, the blessed peace that He gives us through Jesus Christ when He delivers us from our great spiritual enemies, the devil, the flesh, and the world. Indeed, He not only delivers us from their power, but uses them also to provide what is necessary for the building of His house. It is by their hands that the stone, rejected and despised, becomes the head of the corner. The glory of the true temple for us is the peace we have with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

That God reduced the external glory of His house in the days of the return, so that the people might look for the coming of Christ, is true today also. In these last days of the New Testament, just as in the last days of the Old, the church is reduced to a remnant and is poor and despised, retaining none of her former glory as in the days of the apostles or of the Reformation. But God has His purpose in that as He did with Judah. We, too, seeing the lesser glory of God’s house, must not be discouraged and despair and cease our work, but continue in the confidence that the Desire of all nations shall soon come, and through His coming the house of God will receive all the glory that God has promised, for through His coming the tabernacle of God will come from heaven and God will dwell with us and be our God and we shall be His people (Rev. 21:2-4).

The lesser glory of God’s house in the latter days is not a reason for discouragement, then, but a reason for hope, for it is the proof, for us also, that He whom we desire above all will soon come again. Nor may we as we witness the beginning of the shaking of all things that shall accompany His coming cease our labors and simply wait for Him, but “receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved,” we must serve God with reverence and godly fear (Heb. 12:28).

 

The Third Prophecy: Haggai 2:10-19

 

10. In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying,

This third prophecy comes a little over two months (63 days) after the previous, at a time when the people were busy at work on the temple. They would not be finished with the work for nearly four years, so this prophecy comes very shortly after they had begun and long before they were finished. It is, though couched in the form of two questions about the law, really an admonition to the people to keep themselves holy in the work they were doing, and it concludes with a promise of blessing should they do so.As with the previous prophecies, God identifies Himself as Jehovah, the covenant God of His people. He does that because they were at work on His house, the Old Testament place of His covenant and of the covenant fellowship that He enjoyed with them. The name amounts, therefore, in this passage, to a reassurance that He would dwell in the house as He had promised and continue His covenant with them (Haggai 1:8Haggai 2:4, 5).