July 4, 2013

Revealing Christ In the Old Testament XXVIII: A King Makes a Chair a Throne


It is highly probable but not stated directly in Scripture, that Haggai along with Zechariah were within the first exiles to return with Zerubbabel to Jerusalem from Babylonian exile. It is also possible that Haggai had seen the original glory of the first Temple. If this is the case than Haggai was quite advanced in age when he returned home.

Haggai 2:3 ~ “Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes?”

Ezra 3:12 ~ “But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' houses, old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid, though many shouted aloud for joy"

Haggai’s message is clear. People are to look at themselves and ponder their ways and what they are doing. They are to see how good they have it. The Lord is with them and it is time to rebuild the Temple. God first stirred the spirit of the leaders and subsequently the spirit of the remnant people. God moved within them all. To the prophet Haggai is given the message-- along with Zechariah-- to stir the people…and stir them he does.

They are to work to rebuild the Temple.

His first two prophecies he tried to shame the people out of their indifference in redecorating their own houses but leaving the Lord’s Temple in absolute and utter ruin.

Haggai 1:1-2 ~ In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest: This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’”

Haggai 1: 3-9 ~ Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.

Haggai’s prophecy did what it was supposed to do which was motivate Zerubbabel governor of Jerusalem and Joshua the High Priest. It also dramatically affected the people as they rose up and began the work of rebuilding the Temple, which had been interrupted (Ezra 3-5)

It is not long before discouragement seems to have set in again on the workers. It seems the glory of the former Temple so overshadowed the rebuilding of the new that it totally discouraged those that remembered the former glory of Solomon’s Temple. It is through the power of the Spirit of God, Haggai exhorts them to push on and continue to build because it is the Lord of Hosts who was with them and that very Spirit would remain among them.

It is here that we need to see Jesus clearly in the text. God is exhorting His people through Haggai. In essence what is being shown to them through a lesser but still significant rebuilding of a second temple  is that it is not the things of our lives that we do or the things we act on so much is it is the very fact that Jesus Himself dwells within us. It is not through our works that we get saved but through our acceptance of Jesus and the salvation He brings. It is after this acceptance that our actions change to become more Christ-like. Yes, our actions can help show that the Kingdom has indeed arrived by Christ being in us but it is not those works themselves but the impetus that is behind them…which is Christ. It was not the temple per se that made the Temple so glorious…it was He that dwelt within it that brought the Temple its magnificence, majesty and grandeur. The throne does not make the King, the King makes a chair a throne. It is not the castle that makes the King, it is the King that makes a home a castle.

What is ironic is that the fully adorned Second Temple would reach the peak of its aesthetic glory at the very same time that Christ would come in His incarnate form when Herod would have adorned the Temple. In the Lord’s prophecy through Haggai in Haggai 2 we again see the glory of the One who will give the true source of the physical temple splendor. The One who’s Presence indwelt both physical Temples will also will bring honor to the new temple that will carry His Spirit…the human believer (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). But before that Spirit can indwell individual believers, the Desire of the Nations will need to come as foretold in Scripture many times.

Haggai 2:6-9 ~ This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

What is further ironic is that the second temple would be further out-shined in glory over the fact that a believer themselves would be the temple-Jew and Gentile alike. 

Galatians 3:28 ~ "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

We as believers become the temple without walls or a cathedral made of people. Where God’s Spirit lives and breathes just as it had once done in the Tabernacle of the Wilderness and in the first and second Temples in the Holy of Holies.

The Lord of The Ring

Haggai 2:23 ~ “‘On that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

Before departing the book of Haggai we should also mention the symbolism of Zerubbabel being God’s signet ring. He had led people in return from captivity in Babylonian Exile. This is akin to Jesus leading people back to God from captivity in their sin. It is also interesting to note that Zerubbabel was of the line of David. In this way he is a type or shadow of Christ. In building the Temple he was a servant of the Lord during a time of trouble for God’s people, just as Jesus was for people not only under Roman oppression but for Christians under the system of the world and sinners under their sin. Because he was called by God to do something in obedience to God, he again is like Christ. In the same way a King makes a simple chair a throne, so too God makes a simple man that is the exact impression of His likeness (Genesis 1:27) a king that is an exact type or shadow of His Son who is Himself a King and an exact representation of the Father (John 14:7), whose Spirit now indwells all believers who accept His Son (Romans 8:9-11) and they too...are to be like Him. If we take this one step further...what does this tell us about the nature of individual believers indwelt by the Spirit of God today if we are indeed like Zerubbabel who was made in the image of God? That's right folks, we are royalty and co-heirs in Christ because of Christ...just as Paul told us in Romans 8:17.

It is therefore is remarkably cool to mention that God would call Zerubbabel His signet ringA signet ring was a ring that makes and exact impression of the object that is on the ring in a wax impression. If Zerubbabel is God’s signet ring, Zerubbabel like Christ is a representation of God, or in Zerubbabel’s case, a likeness or impression of God the Father as no one is a perfect imprint of representation of the Father except Jesus Himself.

John 14:6-7 ~ Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

Hebrews 1:3 ~ The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

For us today we must realize something profound. If we are only evangelizing and trying to reach out to people to build God’s church when things are going really well, we really are not following the pattern laid down in Haggai. God’s people had fallen on difficult and strenuous times. They had many things working against them physically and psychologically. God exhorted them through His chosen vessel when and where He needed to, to keep the glory and splendor of the Temple moving forward. He will do the same today for the glory and building of His Body and Kingdom. The pivotal element in that building of that new temple, the Body of believers…is you. What are you doing to build God’s temple?

As Haggai said to his people then, so to God still says to us today: “Give careful thought to your ways.(Haggai 1:5)

It is His Spirit that remains on us. It is He that makes us His Body, not us making His Body for Him. It is not our work in and of itself that rebuilds the Temple but rather it is His work within us that rebuilds us that builds His Body, therefore...His Kingdom.

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