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Haggai 2:1-9 – The once glorified temple seems humbled – but God will give it an even greater glory

The name ‘Haggai’ means ‘festival’. On the greatest day of the feast of tabernacles which anticipated the kingdom of God, Haggai received another message from Yahweh.

As the remnant rebuilt the house of God there were a few people who remembered the glory of the house of God before the exile. By comparison to what had been, the house of God being rebuilt looked very humble by comparison. This led to discouragement among the people.

Once again God speaks into their situation. He encourages the people to be strong and work for two reasons. The first is because God is with them. The very point of a temple is for God to be with his people. The temple might look humble but the reality to which it pointed was present – God, his Spirit, is in their midst. Don’t be discouraged by what you see – believe God’s word that he is with you just as he promised when he brought you out of Egypt.

The second encouragement is to be found in God’s future work in verses 6-9. Just as God shook Mount Sinai when he came to act and give Israel the law of Moses, so God will again shake things as a precursor to acting. But this time he will shake not just a mountain but the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land.

This shaking will also shake the nations disrupting human power and social structures – the result of this will be that all the nations will bring their treasures to glorify God’s house. The end result is that the future glory of God’s house will exceed the former glory of God’s house in Solomon’s time.

So, the remnant should be encouraged to build despite the present humbleness of God’s house because God is with them and because God will one day bring a great glory to his house.

When is this prophecy fulfilled?

Hebrews 12:18-29 relates the fulfillment of this prophecy to the New Jerusalem (belonging to the new heavens and earth). The New Jerusalem is the ultimate temple. One day the redeemed from all nations will glorify that temple with their wealth, abilities, and worship. The new Jerusalem is the consummation of the temple, but it is not only a place but also a people – the church with whom God dwells. As people from all nations contribute to the Church they are foreshadowing what will be in the New Jerusalem.

The people in Haggai’s day, and us as well, could be encouraged because what they were doing in rebuilding the temple was contributing to that future outcome.