Today’s 2nd Bible reading describes the coming glory of God’s House, but the people are defiled. Nevertheless, God promises a future blessing with Zerubbabel chosen like God’s signet ring. Zerubbabel being picked out by the God of armies as His servant, who will be like a ring that has God His royal mark on it. (Haggai 2:23)
The prophet Haggai is among the Judeans who have returned from exile. In conquering the Babylonians, Cyrus of Persia issued an edict that all the conquered peoples should return to their homeland — and of course, that they should also remember his generosity and pay substantial taxes in appreciation.
According to the book of Ezra, Cyrus authorized the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple, though that project was plagued by external opposition and insufficient resources. By “the second year of King Darius”— where today’s scripture reading commences — over a decade has passed, and not a lot has been accomplished.
The earlier part of the first chapter of Haggai tells us that the Temple remains in ruins, being about 70 years since Solomon’s Temple had been destroyed (Haggai 1:4). On 1 Elul (Haggai 1.1) and 21 Av (Haggai 2:1) Haggai brings a message to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, to Joshua, the High Priest, and to the people, to remember how splendid the Temple used to be. (Haggai 2:3) Asking if it did not seem like nothing, Jehovah asks them to make an effort to reconstruct the House of God.
From the Hebrew scrolls we come to know that Zerubbabel was given the task of leading the first group of the return of Jewish people to Jerusalem after their exile to Babylon. After the return, he was appointed governor and oversaw the Temple construction. For them it was not an easy task to reconstruct a temple which could be considered as a House for God. The high priest Joshua, son of Jehozadak, was asked to be strong, like all people of the region (or land) had to be strong. (Haggai 2:2) The Elohim said them not to be discouraged but just to do the work for their real Lord Most High, for He Jehovah Host of hosts would be with them. They also had to remember how when they came out of Egypt, God promised that He would always be with them. So, they had to know He was still with them, and therefore had not to be afraid. (Haggai 2:4)
They managed to build a smaller temple than the one Solomon constructed, but
“The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,”
From today’s chapter we can see that not everything went to plan and that this worked on the mood of the people. From the previous time in history we know that it went the first time also not according to plan or expectations. David’s plans to build the first temple had stalled, and his expectations for starting construction had been dashed. So David charged his son, Solomon, with doing it saying:
” Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed; for Jehovah God, even my God, is with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until all the work for the service of the house of Jehovah be finished.” (1Ch 28:20 ASV)
Like God through Haggai drew upon the same encouragement, the same assurance of God’s presence and faithfulness, the same charge that had preceded Solomon’s successful building project, He asks us also not to lose courage and to continue in the Lord.
We also should know that in the prophecy of Haggai is given a sign for times to come, when troubles will be great and the earth shall shake and waters rise high. The apostle Paul also warned his fellow brethren in Rome that there was more to come.
“3 And not only so, but we also rejoice in our tribulations: knowing that tribulation worketh stedfastness; 4 and stedfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope: 5 and hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us.” (Ro 5:3-5 ASV)
We should know that before long the Elohim Hashem Jehovah will shake heaven and earth, land and sea. The Adonai, God above all gods and above all kings will overthrow all the nations, and their treasures will be brought to god’s House so that the Temple will be filled with wealth. (Haggai 2:7)
We should know everything belongs to god, also the silver and gold of the world is mine. (Haggai 2:8) In the end there shall also be a new Temple which will be more splendid than the old ones, and there God will give His people prosperity and peace. (Haggai 2:9)
As the Lord Almighty has spoken in the ancient times His Word should resound in our times. We too should also continue to develop passionate patience in us, with the knowledge that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.
Let us in alert expectancy such as this, look back at all those things God did for His people and let us never be left feeling shortchanged. We should see that we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! (Romans 5:3-5)
Let us already co-operate to help to construct the ‘figurative’ House of God so that times shall come we shall be well prepared to be strong to help to construct the New House of God.