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7.58 Haggai -- Further Oracles

          Oracle 2: Oct. 17

          Discouragement has a way of returning.  After the people had been at work for a month, Haggai spoke to them again (Hag 2:1-9).  Apparently, as the Temple rose, some were disappointed at its relative lack of grandeur.  Ezra reported that some older Jews, who remembered Solomon’s Temple, wept even when the new foundations were laid (Ezra 3:12).  Haggai expressed their attitude:

          "Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory?  How does it look to you now?  Does it not seem to you like nothing?" (Hag 2:3).  

Haggai told the people to be strong, keep working, and fear nothing, for two reasons:    
         a. because of God’s Presence

         "According to the promise that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit stands and abides in the midst of you" (Hag 2:5, Amplified).

          What was the covenant promise?

          "Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.  Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Ex 19:5-6).  

            "Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God" (Ex 29:45).

The glory is not in the building itself, but in the Lord who chooses to be present in it.

            b. because of what is coming

            The Lord announces that He will again shake the heavens and the earth, including all nations (Hag 2:6-7Hag 2:21).   The Hebrew word for "shake" here is sometimes used literally of an earthquake:  Mount Sinai quaked when the Lord descended to meet with Moses, and the Israelites quaked as well (Ex 19:16-18).  

            As a result of this shaking,

            "the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory," says the Lord Almighty (Hag 2:7).

            What does Haggai mean?  The verb "will come" has a plural referent.  It can hardly mean a desired person.  So it must mean desirable things, treasures brought from the nations as tribute, as Zechariah describes it:

            The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected -- great quantities of gold and silver and clothing (Zech 14:14).

            Haggai indicates something greater than subjugation of still-unreconciled foes:

            "The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house…. And in this place I will grant peace," declares the Lord Almighty (Hag 2:9).

             Earthly treasures may be an outward sign, but the true glory is the presence of the Lord Himself, drawing near to those who believe in Him.

            Oracle 3: Dec 18.

            Haggai's third message dealt with the communicability of holiness (Hag 2:10-19).   A person who touched a dead body not only became unclean, but passed that uncleanness along to anything or  anyone that he touched (Num 19:22). 

             "So it is with this people and this nation in my sight," declares the Lord. "Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled" (Hag 2:14).
            Being back in the Holy Land didn’t cleanse and purify the people (NIV Study Bible, p. 1403); neither did the Temple sacrifices (Henry, p. 1936).  They were still caught in a cycle of futility and barrenness.  Only one thing can break the curse: direct contact with the holy God.  This is the subversive truth hidden within all of the Old Testament regulations.  Sinful men cannot come lightly into the presence of the holy Lord, but the Lord can draw near in an instant and sanctify.  This is Israel’s only hope, and on this basis the Lord now promises, "From this day on I will bless you" (Hag 2:19).  He will bless them, not because they have set to work or offered right sacrifices, but because He chooses to draw near.


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