HAGGAI: REBUILDING THE TEMPLE
Commentary and Notes on Haggai 1:12-2:9
A. Identifying the Problem (Haggai 1:1-11)
By fully relating what was on God's mind, the people could see what was on God's mind and respond to Him. This initiated one of the most wonderful reforms we see in scripture. Three individuals or groups were mentioned.
1) Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, was the governor of Judah. He represented the government. It is important to keep the rule of the country out of the hands of the religious clergy. When the religious leaders seize a country's rule, all sorts of unnecessary and excessive reforms are brought upon the people that shame the name of God.
2) Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, was the high priest. He played a key role in influencing the people and the governor of the land. His job was to intercede before God for the people. He was to listen to God and help the people understand God's will.
3) The remnant of the people also responded warmly to the Lord. This remnant was the people who came back from the exile. They are the ones whom the Spirit of God prodded to go back on over the desert region to fight for a living in their old devastated land of Judah. (Read Nehemiah or Ezra for more background information).
Haggai 1:12 speaks of the key change that occurred that made the difference between blessing and curse. They obeyed the Yahweh their God.
Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him. And the people showed reverence for the LORD. (Haggai 1:12).
Obedience is the best sign of repentance. Repentance requires a change in which a people would respond to God. Obedience is what God really wanted in the first place. In this case, it requires a person to do what God originally wanted. In many cases God's standards gradually decline and no one is there holding up God's standard in front of His people. The people slide down into patterns of sin and protectionism. They might think they are fine but God does not think that way! They need God's prophet to speak and lead them out back to God's green pastures.
What happened as a result of their obedience? Everything significant and good came from that decision to humble oneself and do what God always wanted. The larger the group and the more categories of society that are included in that decision to obey the Lord, the more influence the revival will have on the society. We see here the political forces joined with the religious forces and the people for a genuine true revival. A prophet spoke and the people obeyed, but there was another important step.
The Spirit of God is the mobilizer of the people to rightly respond to God by equipping them to do His work
We find that the LORD stirred up the spirit of these people to do the work.
So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, (Haggai 1:14).
Each person or group that obeyed the Lord, was soon moved by the Spirit of God to do God's work. Have you ever noticed that a spirit of defeat often roams around the churches? This is the opposite to the Spirit's work. The Spirit of God is the mobilizer of the people to rightly respond to God by equipping them to do His work.
If we notice the spirit of defeat around us, we should look for areas that we have disobeyed the Lord. What areas have we neglected to respond to? Have we allowed a selfish materialism block out the glory of serving the Lord? Obedience brings mobilization. We treat the depression of man and woman by first seeking which ways they might have compromised their full loyalty to God. God is the mobilizer. If all is well, He comes and enables us to do His good will. When we see that depression, we should pay careful attention to our lives.
Haggai in 1:13 declared that the Lord was with them. "I am with you." What a difference that makes when we know God is with us.
Man's plans for increase in the church or ministry are plagued by ways of the worlds. Pragmatists say that if it works, use it. But they don't realize that God's ways bring glory to Him while man's ways bring no special worship of God. Most building projects show man is with us. We bring debt rather than faith into the picture. Fights and long discussions substitute praise times for God's direction and provisions. We find something radically different here; a renewal takes place because God is there.
The other morning I was speaking with a brother about dead churches. He commented how a community around a Bible school that he was familiar with was plagued with witchcraft and occult. He oft hand mentioned that people are seeking these dark means of spirit communication because they cannot hear God speak in the churches! There is much truth in this. Is God rooted in our ministries? Are they 'our' churches or ministries or God's?
After a month of extremely hard work, God sent the prophet again to encourage them. Evidently some of the workers or perhaps onlookers, were greatly discouraged by the sad shape this new temple building was taking. There were some old timers who had evidently seen the former temple in its glory. They had heard story after story about the glitter of gold on the old temple. After all, the gold and silver, the ornaments, the cyprus trees, etc., were all lacking. We can imagine this temple was nice. But in comparison, it greatly lacked the embellishments that King Solomon gave the former one.
God encouraged them by stating how this temple's glory would not be in its construction but by what this temple represented. God was going to do a new work that would go far beyond that temple. Truly it was nothing like before (Haggai 2:3-4). The significance of this temple would not only be great but greater.
"The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former," says the LORD of hosts, "and in this place I shall give peace," declares the LORD of hosts." (Haggai 2:9).
When they came out of Egypt, they only had a tabernacle, a tent. The Lord, however, was in their midst. His Spirit is again abiding in their midst. In the former situation, the Lord shook Mt. Sinai, but now God is going to shake the heavens and the earth.
"And I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations; and I will fill this house with glory," says the LORD of hosts. (Haggai 2:7, NASB).
The glory of this temple is greater. God owns all the gold and silver, but He is going to ornate this rebuilt temple so that its glory will be greater than the former. How is God going to do that? Is God referring to Herod's fantastic remodeling campaign hundreds of years later than made it into the temple that Jesus visited? No. God had a plan far greater than this that brought eternal consequences.
We see this fulfillment in two ways.
We firstly see that the Spirit of God raised up Jesus Christ as the new temple. His death and resurrection enabled a people to come before God in righteousness forever. Christ is the means by which people can come before God.
"Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." (John 2:19).
We secondly see the greater glory of the temple will rest in Christ as King. He is the Zerubbabel the Davidic Prince. He will bring in a new kingdom and will upset every earthly throne.
When we think of this greater glory, we are all the more humbled at how the people went along in their lives ignoring the former temple in ruins. They had seen a miracle in the restoring of the walls of Jerusalem, but still they could not come around to appreciate the worship of God. They ignored the chief means they could seek out His fellowship and communion.
Man was indifferent, but God wasn't. Man was content in his sin, but God wanted to save man from His sin. Man did not plan to rebuild the temple, but it was in God's plans seventy years earlier. And in a true sense, man did not build the temple, but God's Spirit in him. God really rebuilt the True temple. This is a picture of what work God would do in the two phases of rebuilding the New Temple of Christ. More of this will be discussed in the following major headings.
We need to be careful in not focusing on properties, buildings, or land. The focus needs to be on Christ, the foundation stone. Everything must be built around Him. It is interesting that all five dates in this book are written with reference to King Darius. The world was built around him. But this New Temple would point to Christ as the new reference point. A.D. (anno domini - the year of the Lord) would be our new focal point. If we glory in anything but Christ, we truly have lost our true focus.
We also are to take great joy and confidence in God's true temple - the people of God. The temple is assembled when the local church meets together. It is then the true picture takes place. It is interesting how one stubborn atheist came to know the Lord. Christian communities have their built-in problems because of their isolation from the world. The positive side for them is that one is able to see Christ among them. This lady, a professional lawyer, wanted nothing to do with the Lord until she visited that community one or two nights. She came back and said that is what she wanted and joined a local church.
If the church is materialistic, then people will not see Christ. People will see that they value just what they value - the things of the earth. But when a people of God show their fear of Him, but living according to heavenly principles, then they begin to see what the real difference is between a Christian and non-Christian. More than often, it is in the simplicity of life seen in God's people where the glory of God will be seen.
Not the soft seats, but the love of God in the member's heart.
Not the short sermon, but people who fear the Lord.
Not the lush suits, but the ministry to the poor and broken hearted.
How much have we chosen to live in light of God's presence than for our own needs? Has God broken through your religious life to see beyond the walls and mere attendance? Have you taken significant steps to fully comply to what God wants in your life? Are you willing to worship in a broken old church building if God is there in your midst? What do you need to do to get closer to God?
|Special Study: Discovering an Effective Leadership Model from Haggai|
|Special Study: Overcoming Discouragement & Depression from Haggai|
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