Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Nov 18 2019 - Haggai 2 – The glory of the new house

Haggai is a short book. In chapter one we saw how Haggai's prophetic preaching, along with that of Zechariah, spurred the Israelites to get on with the task of rebuilding the temple. Today we read the second and concluding chapter of this prophetic book.

Haggai enquires if there is anyone who remembers the glory of Solomon's temple (v. 3). Anyone capable of remembering would have been in their 70s, for the temple had been destroyed some 66 years earlier. Haggai challenges them to compare the glory of the previous temple with the half-built house they now see before them. Many, no doubt, would feel discouraged at the thought of this comparison. How could they ever manage to restore these ruins to be like the glorious temple that once stood here? But Haggai brings them a word of encouragement:

“Be strong, Zerubbabel,” declares the Lord. “Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, 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.” (vv. 4-5)

All those years before, when the Lord rescued his people from Egypt, he promised to be with them and to go before them. Because of their rebellion he had threatened at one point to abandon them, but Moses had pleaded with God for the people saying that if the Lord did not go with them they could not travel on to the land God had promised them. God's presence with his people was part of his covenant promise to them. They may often have been unfaithful to the covenant, but God remained faithful, and here through Haggai he reminds them that his Spirit is still with them and will provide them with the strength they need to do what he is now calling them to do.

But even so, the people must have doubted that the restored temple would ever be half as glorious as the one built by Solomon. In answer to their fears, the Lord promises:

“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 what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,” says the Lord Almighty. “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.” (vv. 6-9)

Some of you may have heard part of Handel's Messiah ringing in your head here. The promise of future glory for this temple far outstrips anything realised by the Jews in the days of Haggai or at any other time in the Old Testament. This promise finds its fulfilment only in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the temple that was destroyed at the hands of God's enemies and to satisfy God's justice against his disobedient people. He is the one whose resurrection rebuilt or restored that temple as the "place" of our access to God. He is the one through whom we have peace with God.

The Spirit of God is now at work shaking the nations and bringing people of all backgrounds and languages to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord. And the day will come at last when he who has become the desire of the nations shall return to reign in glory for all eternity. Then all the glory of the nations, the very best of all that human beings can accomplish, will be devoted to him and become part of the glory of his everlasting and unshakable kingdom (see Revelation 21:26).

Father God, we thank you for the words of this prophecy of Haggai. We also feel fearful at times that the glories and accomplishments of your church in past generations cannot be matched in our time. Help us not to fear but to remember that our risen Saviour promised to be with us to the end of the age and that your Spirit remains among us to provide us with the strength we need to do the work to which you have called us.

Peter Misselbrook