Call to Courage - Rebuild the Temple
Haggai 2:1-23 In chapter two, we have three messages from the word of the Lord by Haggai to Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the remnant of the people for their encouragement in restoring the temple; A Call to Courage, A call to Cleanness, A Call to Confidence.
Courage - Rebuild Temple
Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people are told the temple they are building will in respect to the spiritual exceed that of Solomon's temple. In the second message, Haggai will assure Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the remnant of the people though their sin in delaying the restoration of the temple had a negative effect on their lives, now that they are restoring the temple the Lord will bless them and give success in what they are doing. In the third message, Haggai assures Zerubbabel that as a reward for his pious zeal and activity, he will be a favorite of heaven and one of the ancestors of Messiah the Prince whose kingdom will be set in the ruins of all opposing powers.
One the last day of the feast of Tabernacles, "the Word of Yahweh came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 'Speak now to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying, Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Isn't it in your eyes as nothing?'" (Haggai 2:1-3).
It is possible there were among the workers restoring the temple men who saw Solomon's temple in all its glory. They had to admit there would be no comparison between the restored temple and the temple dedicated by Solomon some four hundred and forty years earlier at the feast of Tabernacles (1 Kings 8:2). A similar comparison was made when the foundation of the temple was laid about fifteen years earlier (Ezra 3:8-13).
When comparisons are made we need to remember God's view of what we do is not the same as man's view (Zechariah 8:6; 1 Samuel 16:7). We need to remember when we do something that is pleasing in the sight of God our pride will not let us be satisfied with what we have accomplished unless it meets the standards of those whose abilities exceed ours. This comparison can have a discouraging effect; from the human viewpoint this temple will be inferior to Solomon's temple.
But Zerubbabel and Joshua must not let this discourage them. If they are discouraged, it will affect the attitude of the people who are doing their best to restore the temple. We may think our best is not enough, but our best is all the Lord asks of us. If those who are overseeing the restoration project have a good attitude about the project, the worker will have a good attitude. The encouragement needed in the restoration of the temple, in doing the will of the Lord is the advice given to Zerubbabel.
The Lord through Haggai tells Zerubbabel, Joshua, and all the people of the land: "Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel, says Yahweh. Be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, says Yahweh, and work, for I am with you,' says Yahweh of Armies" (v 4).
Lord overcomes fear
The presence of the Lord overcomes fears, disappointments, and discouragement. When we are in the dark days of life it is the presence of the Lord that turns the night into day. The people who were restoring the temple had hundreds opposing them, but they had the Lord of hosts with them. He will fight for them and intercede for them. If the Lord is for us, who can be against us? The extent of the presence of the Lord is revealed in verse five; "This is the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, and my Spirit lived among you. 'Don't be afraid.'"
Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the remnant of the people have nothing to fear. They have the Lord of hosts on their side, His Spirit is abiding in their midst, and He will keep the promises He made when Israel came out of Egypt. Although the Lord has punished them for their transgressions the promises He made when they came out of Egypt were not nullified. The Lord dwells among His people by His Spirit, even though His Spirit is often grieved and provoked to withdraw from them for a season, He is now with them. It was the Spirit of the Lord of hosts that stirred up their spirits to come out of Babylon (Ezra 1:5). It was the Spirit of the Lord of hosts that stirred up the spirits of the people to resume the restoration of the temple (Haggai 1:14).
Shake heavens and earth
Although the Lord is going to once more shake the heavens and earth, the sea and the dry land (v 6), Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people have nothing to fear. The Lord is going to do what He did when He brought His people out of Egypt. The Lord of hosts is going to do what He did when He brought them out of Egypt to Mount Sinai where He shook the heavens and earth with thunder, lightning and earthquakes.
This shall be done again when at the sufferings of Christ, the sun will be darkened, the veil of the temple torn into from top to bottom, the earth will shake and rocks split. Tombs will be opened and many of the saints who have fallen asleep (died) will be raised from their sleep and come out of the tombs after the resurrection of Christ and will enter Jerusalem and appear to many (Matthew 27:51-53).
The Lord said, "I will shake all nations. The precious things of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory, says Yahweh of Armies. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, says Yahweh of Armies. The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former, says Yahweh of Armies; and in this place will I give peace, says Yahweh of Armies" (vv 7-9).
This may be a reference to Zerubbabel's temple and the additions made to it by Herod and the peace the Son will make with the Father on the cross or the peace Christ will bring to the world at His second coming. This is why the people must not be discouraged because this temple will lack the gold, silver, and precious stones that were in Solomon's temple. These were a symbol of the glory that will come to this temple.
In verse eight the Lord of hosts tells the people why they shouldn't let the lack of gold, silver, and precious stones in the temple discourage them.
Note what the Lord said, "The silver is mine, and the gold is mine." Who owns all the riches of this world and allows us to use them; the Lord, He placed them in and on this earth when He created the heavens and the earth. He becomes very upset when we misuse them. If we have gold and silver, we must serve and honor God with them, for they are His. He has given them to us for our use, but they remain His.
Honor God with what you have
If we do not have gold and silver and we serve and honor God with what we have He will accept us. God does not need our gold and silver, it is already His. He wants our love and what we offer Him is a reflection of that love. The Lord of hosts is telling the people who are giving their best to the Lord, if He wants gold, silver, and precious stones adorning His house He will provide them.
When the Lord looks down on this earth and sees what man is doing with what God freely gave to them, do you think He is smiling and saying well done?
Close of the call to courage
Haggai closes the call to courage, with a promise, "The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former," says Yahweh of Armies; "and in this place will I give peace," says Yahweh of Armies."
Why was it necessary for the temple to be rebuilt? There is a reason that is often overlooked. The Messiah is coming, the Lamb of God is coming, and the great High Priest is coming. It was in the temple Joseph and Mary found Jesus when He was missing for three days. Years later, He will teach and perform miracles in the temple area. He will drive out those who were making His Father's house a den of thieves.
What happened when Jesus was rejected by those He came to seek and save; the Romans destroyed the temple. From the departure of the Messiah to the present there has been no peace in Judah and Jerusalem. But the Lord of hosts said He will establish peace in this place. Who will establish peace in this place? The nations of the world, how can they establish peace in this place when they cannot establish peace among themselves? The One who will establish an everlasting peace in this place is the promised Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ.