The Book of Haggai : Study No.4 The Former and Latter Glory (2:1-9)

Study No.4   The Former and Latter Glory (2:1-9)

(Vs.1-3) “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?”

Not quite a month after the work had begun (1:15) Haggai spoke to encourage the people as God had commanded Him to speak. The true prophets never spoke anything apart from what God told them to say Indeed God warns us in His Word not to add anything to, or to take away anything from His Word, and that if we do either one or the other then He will hold us to account for it (Proverbs 30:6) (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32) (1 Corinthians 4:6) (Revelation 22:18-19).

Moses spoke God’s Word about a prophet when he said to the people of Israel;  “But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:18-22).

Now we can teach Bible prophecy and there are many solid Bible teachers who vary on certain aspects of it but seek to be faithful to the Word of God in this matter. However, if one claims to be a prophet and goes around giving personal prophecies, and there are myriads of them today within the wider Body of Messiah, and what he prophecies over someone does not come true then he is a false prophet who speaks in the name of the LORD but God has not spoken to him and no one should stand in awe of such a one who has prophesied falsely.  Some will say well “we prophecy in part” and they mean by this that a prophet giving a personal prophecy may get it partly right and partly wrong, and when challenged about a defective prophecy quote this verse to justify their message. However in its context the verse is speaking about the fact that when the Lord Jesus has returned and we are in our resurrected glorified bodies the gift of prophecy will no longer be needed in the Body of Messiah because we will know as we are known by God (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).

Now through Haggai God spoke again to the governor, the High Priest and to the people and told His servant Haggai to ask them a question because God saw their thoughts and discerned them from afar, even before a word was on their tongues (Psalm 139:1-4). The people needed to be encouraged and reassured that God was with them still and had not abandoned them, and that their labour was not in vain, and that what they were doing mattered to Him and was pleasing in His sight. There were those still living among the Israelites who had seen Solomon’s Temple in its former glory, magnificence and splendour. Ezra 3:10-13 recounts the laying of the foundation of the temple shortly after the return of the exiles.

There was great rejoicing on that occasion by the younger people, but also loud uncontrolled weeping on the part of the older priests, Levites, and family heads. The reason for this weeping was that they had seen the glory of Solomon’s temple and knew that the present effort would not come close when compared to the splendour of Solomon’s temple. This negative attitude still had a harmful impact on the people in Haggai’s time, making them wonder whether all of their efforts might not be in vain since the temple would be so poor by comparison with Solomon’s temple (vs 3). Their temple seemed to be like nothing. What they were failing to understand was that if God was in a work, no matter what it looked like outwardly then success was assured. Often a great work for God has a very small beginning as God wants the credit and will share His glory with no man (Isaiah 42:8). We are not to despise the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10).

There are many assemblies today that once saw a moving of God’s Spirit and souls being saved and sanctified and the Lord Jesus was saving people and adding them to the fellowship daily as we saw in the Book of Acts after the Holy Spirit had baptised the 120 collectively on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:47b). Now in these assemblies there are those who experienced a revival in the past but now their numbers are falling away and even though they remain faithful to the Word of God they no longer see the results the assembly once had in its heyday spiritually. Discouragement has set in and a sense of complacency has settled in with those who remain. Multitudes of churches are in this state today that once new God’s power but are now being converted into restaurants, secular community centres, business offices and Islamic Mosques.

Now God can and does send revivals and wants to revive His people spiritually in order that His Kingdom might be enlarged on earth and that many might still be saved, because He does not want any to perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). We see revivals in the third world happening today especially in Islamic countries despite severe persecution which was common especially in the first two centuries of the Body of Messiah. We also see spiritual revivals in places where the Body of Messiah is persecuted because of the revival itself, however, God’s kingdom is growing in leaps and bounds in these assemblies and the gates of hell are not prevailing against them but is being dismantled and overthrown! (Matthew 16:16-18).

Like the Israelites in Jerusalem in Haggai’s time who once saw the power and presence of God filling the Temple and had been discouraged by the one now being built, faithful New Covenant believers in the western democracies today are grieving over the spiritual backslidden state of the wider Body of Messiah by and large and the spiritual deception spreading like gangrene among its members by false teachers and prophets, and that God’s Word is no longer honoured and revered in multitudes of churches within wider Christendom. Whatever the spiritual state of any assembly God is able to spiritually revive it if there are those in it who long to see it revived and are faithfully working to this end to see it come about in God’s time and in God’s way, and are prepared to keep ploughing up the soil of their heart to receive the seed of that Word, so that when the rain of the Spirit comes according to God’s time frame and sovereign will, there will be saints sanctified resulting in the salvation of sinners!  Souls being saved and the saints sanctified is the result of a revival, not the revival itself. A revival has to do with rediscovering something that was lost in the past that has been rediscovered, restored and embraced once again. Now let’s continue…

(Vs.4-5) “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.”

Now that the people feared the LORD and had started to continue their work building God’s House the LORD gave them all another word of His encouragement to keep going and not to give up, but to be strong. He says it three times, once to Zerubbabel the governor, once to Joshua the High Priest and once to the remnant of the people of Israel. God Himself encouraged them to keep on working, to keep on keeping on, and said to them “I am with you.”

As Rabbi the apostle Paul wrote; “If God be for us who can be against us!” (Romans 8:31). When God makes a declaration people have to sit up and listen. God reminds them of His covenant made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and ratified by Moses when the people of Israel had been delivered from Egypt. God always remembers His covenants and never violates them because once sacrificial blood has been shed the agreement is unbreakable as far as He is concerned (Exodus 2:24) (Leviticus 26:9) (Deuteronomy 8:18) (Exodus 6:5) (Nehemiah 1:5) (Psalm 111:5) (Leviticus 26:45) (Psalm 106:45) (Deuteronomy 7:9) (Exodus 2:24) (Daniel 9:4). So then not only did the LORD tell them to be strong, that He was with them and that He remembered His covenant to them, but also that His Spirit remained among them and that they were not to fear.

If this was true for the remnant of Israel under the Old Covenant when they were working for Him, how much more true is it for the Body of Messiah, the spiritual offspring of Israel who are under the blood of the Messiah that has ratified forever the New Everlasting Covenant, a covenant that can never be annulled, violated or cancelled by the Triune God of heaven who has sworn an oath that cannot be revoked! God had begun a work for His remnant people in the time of Haggai and what God had promised He would fulfil to the very letter. This is true for us who are collectively the living Temple of God. What God starts in us and intends for us, He fully intends to finish it. As Rabbi the apostle Paul writes to the assembly at Philippi; “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Messiah Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Let’s continue…

(Vs.6-7) “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.”

God’s Word is also a prophetic word. Haggai was prophesying for his own time frame and for the remnant of Israel. However, the time frame changes and God now speaks about the future to come when even the former glory and splendour of Solomon’s temple will be eclipsed by the Messiah at His Second Coming which is all over the Bible in both Testaments and attested to in all of the prophets. The time is coming when God will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land and every institution and empire that man has raised up will be thrown down, and everything God has not established on earth will be shaken. Everyone on earth will be shaken by this time of shaking when God speaks and the whole earth will tremble at His voice (Psalm 29:3-9). People globally from every level of society will be shaken and many will not survive this shaking that will affect the religious world, the domestic world and the business world and the world of military might and power.

As Isaiah prophesies; “See, the Lord is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; He will ruin its face and scatter its inhabitants. It will be the same for priest as for people, for the master as for his servant, for the mistress as for her servant, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. The earth will be completely laid waste     and totally plundered. The Lord has spoken this word” (Isaiah 24:1-3).

And again the prophet Isaiah says; “Terror and pit and snare await you, people of the earth. Whoever flees at the sound of terror will fall into a pit; whoever climbs out of the pit will be caught in a snare. The floodgates of the heavens are opened; the foundations of the earth shake. The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, and the earth is violently shaken. The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls, never to rise again. In that day the Lord will punish the powers in the heavens above (fallen principalities and powers) and the kings on the earth below. They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison and be punished after many days. The moon will be dismayed, the sun ashamed; for the Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders—with great glory” (Isaiah 24:17-23).

Many other like passages of the Bible attest to this shaking which will happen at the end of this present age when the kingdom of the world will become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15). In that day the Temple of God at Jerusalem will shine with a radiance and splendour that eclipses the glory and splendour of Solomon’s temple!

“The desired of all nations” refers to the Messiah Himself our Lord Jesus, who in His first coming was the living embodiment of the temple in the Old Testament revealed as a human being in a flesh and blood body. In His Second Coming He will sit on David’s throne in the millennial temple itself and it will be filled with the Messiah’s light and power and with His presence and the surviving remnant of Israel will experience this glory! Indeed in that day for Israel the glory of the latter house will be far greater than the former house being Solomon’s temple. F

or the Body of Messiah, spiritually grafted into Israel, being collectively the living temple of God, will, in their resurrected, indestructible, immortal and glorified bodies radiate the light, the life and the power of Him who sits on the throne at Jerusalem and will be fully and forever manifested in the eternal and final state to come when the City of God, the New Jerusalem will descend from heaven to earth! (Revelation 21:1-4). Even though the remnant of Israel including Haggai would not see this occur it gave them a hope for the future and also a hope for eternity which was already realised in the Old Testament scriptures. Job had this revelation. “But I know that my Redeemer lives, and in the end He will stand upon the earth. Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. I will see Him for myself; my eyes will behold Him, and not as a stranger. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:26-27).

What actually happened to Job teaches us about the suffering that the Body of Messiah will go through at the hands of Satan at the end of this present age, however, Job’s experience of the radiant certainty of eternity with the Triune God, and especially with the redeemer our Lord Jesus the Messiah, will also be ours to enjoy forevermore! And then we read…

(Vs.8-9) “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.”

God owns everything in this world. All of the silver and the gold that men hunger and thirst after in this present age all belong to God. As it is written in His Word the Bible; “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters” (Psalm 24:1-2). The present house refers to what God has already prepared in heaven for all of His redeemed saints. No earthly building, no matter how grand and splendid will even compare to the glory and splendour of God’s Temple at Jerusalem after He has returned to inaugurate His Messianic kingdom and has destroyed all opposition to His Second Coming. In that day peace will reign in Jerusalem because the prince of Peace will be enthroned there and ruling over the surviving nations of the whole world, and the global government will rest upon His shoulders.

As Isaiah prophesied; “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

In that day when the Messiah sits enthroned in the millennial temple the glory of the latter House will be greater than the glory of the former house of Solomon’s temple. However, in the New Jerusalem the glory of the Messiah will shine brighter than the sun in and through His living temple being all of the redeemed of all the ages and in that day we are told in the Book of Revelation; “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendour into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honour of the nations will be brought into it” (Revelation 21:22-26).

Go to Study No.5