Haggai 1-2 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former

From Haggai 1-2

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Haggai 1.15 dates the following oracle to the second year of Darius (the Persian king) and Ezra. The exiles have returned to the promised land and are half-heartedly re-constructing the temple.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

The word of the LORD comes to Haggai and neither are impressed.

2 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, 2 “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, 3 ‘Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? (Hag 2:1–3)

The LORD commands Haggai to address the following;

  • Zerubbabel, governor of Judah
  • Joshua, High Priest
  • Remnant of the people

This covers both leaders. Political and religious. And all the people under their authority.

The LORD has authority over all and he speaks through his prophet.

Assuming the date of 520 for the oracle, and given that the temple was destroyed in 587, anyone present who was as old as, say, seventy-five could have remembered the former temple. (Rogerson, J. W. (2003). Haggai. In J. D. G. Dunn & J. W. Rogerson (Eds.), Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible (p. 719). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.)

Haggai gets the people who remember the previous temple to contrast the two. One might remember the peoples reaction in Ezra when they laid the foundation of the new temple (Ezra 3.12). This rebuilt temple is unimpressive compared to Solomons temple. ‘Is it not as nothing in your eyes?’ Those who remembered the former glory were discouraged and the LORD wants to assure them.

What does this say about the way God looks after his people?

4 Yet 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. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, 5 according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. (Hag 2:4-5)

The LORD commands them to be strong and continue working. Not to give up.

The LORD encourages them with the knowledge that he is with them.

He is with them because of his covenant faithfulness. He reassures them his Spirit is with them.

They should not fear. In Ezra the rebuilding was opposed. There were people who were against them. Haggai does not mention it. But historically, the people needed assurance the LORD was with them and what they were doing was according to plan.

6 For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts. 9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.’ ” (Hag 2:6–9)

The LORD promises something greater in the future. The LORD will shake all creation and every nation. He is referring to political and social upheavals.

When he does this all the nations treasures will come in and the LORD will fill his house with glory. Presumably he means silver and gold from foreign nations. They are the LORD’s anyway, he claims it back for himself. When the nations are shaken, the LORD will use their wealth to build up and glorify his temple.

Thus the new temple will be greater than the former.

In the temple the LORD will give peace. Cessation of hostilities, harmony in relationships. The LORD will atone for his people’s sin in the temple. He will bring his people together as one. They will all pray to him. We all want peace. Haggai promises a better future for them.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Haggai speaks about the glory of the temple. Solomons temple was quite impressive. Huge and majestic. Many of the objects of worship were inlaid with gold and silver. How this new temple could surpass the old one is hard to see. They rebuilt the temple, but this one did not measure up as well as Solomons in terms of its gold and silver.

Another temple did come which surpassed the former. But by in the amount of gold and silver it contained.

Story of Jesus

When Jesus came he went into the temple. He predicted what was to happen.

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. (Jn 2:13–22)

The temple was going to be destroyed and raised up after three days. Jesus is referring to his own death and resurrection. He is the temple which is greater than the former one. As John says earlier, Jesus has his own glory. His glory is seen by his followers, his people.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1:14)

In Jesus we see a much greater temple. One full of spiritual riches, with much more glory. Jesus is the person where the LORD makes peace with us and among us.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2015. All Rights Reserved.