Book of Haggai
Three weeks earlier, Zerubbabel and the heads of the families continued building the temple. Work progressed until some older people came down to watch the work. They were children when they were carried captive into Babylon and likely had seen Solomon’s temple in all its glory. From scripture, we know they compared this humble house of God to Solomon’s temple. The people became discouraged and quit. Haggai begins his second message to Zerubbabel, Joshua the high priest and the people: “Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not in your sight as nothing?” (vv. 2-3) Haggai acknowledged that the restored temple would have nothing of the splendor of Solomon’s temple, but they must build it according to God’s plan and for His glory. The temple would look very different, but true worship of God would be performed at its altars. In verses 6-7, Haggai looked ahead to the time when God will shake all the nations, and the nations would come to the “Desire of all nations” (Messiah) to seek His blessing. The remnant had no beautiful treasure with which to adorn the house of God, but when the Messiah comes to reign, the treasure of all the nations will be brought to Him and used for His Glory (Micah 4:12-13; Ezekiel 40-48).
Haggai continues, “Be strong, all you people of the land, and work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts” (v.4). Be Strong! Trust God and wait upon Him to deliver you. “Be Strong” was still echoing in their ears, when the people of Samaria petitioned Tattenai, governor of the province, to stop all work. The people of Samaria knew that the governor was responsible to protect the interests of the empire and was accountable to King Darius. Tattenai investigated the Samaritans’ allegations. He asked the Jews what gave them the authority to do this and what the names of the men were who were working on the building. Zerubbabel graciously answered his questions (Ezra 5:3-17). He wrote a letter to the royal secretary asking for verification that the Jewish people had permission to rebuild the temple. After king Cyrus’ scroll was found, Darius issued a decree that the local officials not interfere with work and all expenses would be paid from the royal treasury (Ezra 6:1-12). God used a pagan governor to stop the local opposition and even guaranteed supplies from the King! He demonstrated that in spite of the bad economy, lack of wealth, and violent opposition by the people of Samaria that God was able to provide all they needed. The government monetary support was limited, but God provided faithfully and the temple was finally completed in 515 BC.
Two months later, the Lord again spoke to Haggai and gave him a message about sin (vv. 10-19). The Lord directed that Haggai ask two questions of the priests. “If a garment contains a piece of consecrated meat and it touches some other food (bread or wine), does the garment make the food become holy.” The priests replied, “No.” Because you cannot transfer holiness in such as simple way. Even if the garment is holy because of the sanctified meat, this holiness cannot be passed to other objects that come in contact with it. Then Haggai asks the second question, “Suppose somebody touched a dead body and becomes unclean? Could that person touch another person and make him unclean?” The priests replied, “Yes.” Haggai had made his point. You can transmit your sickness to a healthy person; but, you cannot share your health with them. Like an infectious disease, sin will eventually pollute the hearts of a nation. “Righteousness exalts a nation; but, sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov.14:34 NKJV).
“In a little while I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and dry land, and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of Hosts. The silver is mine and the gold is mine. The glory of this house will be greater than the glory of the former house, says the Lord Almighty.” ~ Haggai 2:6-8 NKJV
Questions to ponder:
- What is the role of tradition in the local church body? Where is the richness found in tradition? What is the danger of tradition?
- What are some principles to apply when faced with temptation to disobey God’s word (Prov. 3:5-6; Ps 27:13-14; Phil 4:6-9)?
- What event is Haggai pointing to in Haggai 2: 6-7? How does this encourage you?