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This is a most blessed Chapter, full of Gospel, and full of Christ. The Prophet speaking by the Spirit of the Lord, encourageth the people to the work of the Temple. There are gracious promises in the close of the prophecy to Zerubbabel.
"In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying, (2) Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, "
The Prophet hath been particular in marking down the dates of the word of the Lord coming to him; which may serve to teach God's people in all ages of the Church, the profitableness of their making memorandums of all their Bethel visits also. Zerubbabel and Joshua were both types of the Lord Jesus, and therefore are signally honored in those commissions of the Prophet.
"Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?"
It is worthy remark that the period from the Church being gathered out of Egypt, to the time of building the first Temple by Solomon, was about four hundred and eighty years. And from the children of Israel being delivered from Babylon, to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, was about five hundred years. We are told, that on building the second temple, the ancient men wept, and the younger shouted for joy. Ezra 3:11-13 .
"Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts: (5) According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not."
I beg the Reader particularly to remark with me, those sweet expressions of the Lord, I am with you. And again, according to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt. And again, for my spirit remaineth among you. I would humbly ask, and but ask, not presume to decide upon a subject so infinitely sublime and mysterious, are there not all the persons of the Godhead here described, in their office-character, in redemption? Is not the presence of God the Father with the Church? Is it not the Uncreated Word, with whom the covenant of redemption is, and who is indeed the covenant itself, and the whole sum and substance of it? And hath not God the Holy Ghost constantly been with the Church from the beginning? Reader! Do not forget that those blessed privileges of the Church of Christ have never ceased, and never will. Matthew 28:20 .
"For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; (7) And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. (8) The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. (9) The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts."
The little while is spoken in reference to the Lord's calculation of time, and not of ours. A thousand years in his sight are but as one day. It was now somewhat about five hundred years before Christ would openly tabernacle in substance of our flesh; and yet the Lord calls it but a little while! Think, Reader! of the eternity of his nature and essence, by those distinctions of character! And observe What is to introduce this glorious Shiloh; the Lord will shake all nations, yea, the very heavens, and the earth; meaning the raising up and throwing down kingdoms and powers; the Persian, the Grecian, and the Roman monarchies, each were to minister, in their turn, and all to this one event. But, Reader! above all, do mark the blessed feature by which Christ is described; namely, the desire of all nations. And so he is to every poor sinner upon earth, to whom he is revealed. If he be not so, the reason is, because they know not their own wants, neither his suitability, and all-sufficient fulness, and grace, to supply. But in all nations, all climates, tongues, people, and languages, where sin is felt, and Christ made known, nothing but Christ can satisfy. And I beg the Reader to remark yet further, how contemptibly the Lord speaks of silver and gold. The first temple of Solomon had a profusion of gold and silver indeed. Whereas this second temple had but little ornaments in the days of Haggai. But what of that? The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former. And so it was most eminently, when the Son of Cod in our nature entered it. I do not myself conceive, that the ancient Jews, who wept in the view of the second temple, did so on account of the want of things ornamental only. But there were matters, of an higher moment, in which it was defective. The Jews confess, that the second temple had none of the five signs which the first temple had; namely, 1st. the Ark, with the Mercy-Seat and Cherubim: 2dly. the Shechinah: 3dly. the Spirit of Prophecy: 4thly. the Urim and Thummim: and 5thly. the Holy Fire on the altar. But, in the presence of the Lord Jesus, they had more than all these; for , these were but the type. Christ the substance. So that nothing can be more decisive, in confirmation of this most blessed prophecy of Haggai, pointing to Christ, and in Christ being fulfilled. And he is indeed the whole peace of his people.
"In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, (11) Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, (12) If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. (13) Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. (14) Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean. (15) And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the LORD: (16) Since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten: when one came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty. (17) I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD. (18) Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD'S temple was laid, consider it. (19) Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you."
Here is another of Haggai's Sermons, and a most striking one it is. I humbly conceive, by the figure of uncleanness here spoken of, the Lord meant to set forth the polluted, and utterly lost state of our whole nature; and that the cleansing can only be in Christ. The smitings, blastings, and mildews, are figurative expressions of the sorrows, disappointments, and troubles, the consequence of sin. But, from the day the temple in Christ is founded, the whole face of things is changed. Temporal, spiritual, and eternal blessings, are with the Lord's people. When God the Father comes to bless a soul in redemption by his dear Son, he blesseth him with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 1:3 . Having Christ for our portion, we have all things in Christ, and with Christ; a portion to live upon in time, and to all eternity.
"And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying, (21) Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; (22) And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, everyone by the sword of his brother. (23) In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts."
Haggai is commissioned to close his prophecy with a particular and special message to Zerubbabel, governor of Judaea. And this I apprehend principally, as typical of Christ. For though the Lord in shaking kingdoms and nations, might tell this governor not to feel alarm, yet this could not be intended to hold forth to Judaea, or Judaea's governor, peace in temporal things in the midst of the commotion; for in fact it was not so. Judaea became a province subject to Rome, before the coming of Christ. No doubt therefore, the shaking here spoken of alluded to the overthrow of Satan's kingdom and power; the heathen idolatry, and all that oppose Christ and his blessed gospel. And in this, as a type of the Lord Christ, Zerubbabel hath sweet assurances. But, Reader, look at Jesus, and the type is lost in the reality. Is Zerubbabel called the servant of Jehovah? Here he became the type of the glorious Mediator. Behold my servant, saith Jehovah, whom I uphold! Isaiah 42:1 . Is Zerubbabel called the chosen of the Lord? Here again he typified Christ. Is Zerubbabel a signet? Surely we discover the type again here representing Him, whom God the Father sealed. John 6:27 . Indeed, is not Christ called Zerubbabel, as he is very frequently called David? See Zechariah 4:7 . The Targum renders the words in the last verse, for I have chosen thee: in thee I am well pleased: which can never be said of any but of Christ, and of him it is repeatedly said, Matthew 3:17 and Matthew 17:5 . Precious testimonies of our Lord Jesus Christ!
READER! Pause, and consider, while going over this blessed prophecy, concerning the person, work, character, and offices of the Lord; whether He, who is here said by Jehovah himself, to be the desire of all nations, is the first, and last, and comprehensive object of all thy desire; for life and death, for time and eternity? Behold the Lord Jesus in this most blessed and delightful point of view. Sweetly was it prophesied of Him by another Prophet, that He should sprinkle many nations. And when we discover him as the One great and glorious ordinance of heaven for salvation, neither is there salvation in any other: When we look at him as Jehovah's gift, for the common, and only remedy, for the sins of a whole world: When we know the suitability, and all-sufficiency of the Lord Jesus on the one hand, and the freeness, fulness, greatness, and everlasting nature of that rich grace of God the Father on the other; surely the Lord Jesus doth appear so blessedly answering to this character, as the desire of all nations. And did all nations but know him, all nations would be in love with him. As one sun in the heavens answers for all the world; and one ocean supplies all the earth; so one Lord Jesus Christ is enough for all, and answers the wants of all. Reader! Bring home the point to your own person, and enquire whether He is so altogether lovely in your view, as to be the fairest and chiefest among ten thousand? It is indeed truly blessed, when a man's own experience bears a correspondence to the divine testimony; and Christ is formed in the heart, as the one desire of the heart, and the hope of glory. Precious Lord Jesus! Thou, who by thine appearance in our flesh, in thy temple didst fill the latter house with greater glory than the former; do thou fill thy Church now upon earth, as thou art filling thy Church in heaven, with thy presence. Surely, thou thyself, O Lord, art the temple, the altar, the mercy-seat, the propitiation, the High Priest, and the sacrifice! All, all is centered in thee, for all before thee were but types and shadows. Thou, thou art He, whom Jehovah hath chosen, the signet of the Lord of hosts, and the seal of the covenant of peace between heaven and earth! Oh! then precious Jesus, grant that on thee, as the foundation, thy whole Church being built, all thy redeemed upon earth may be growing up unto an holy temple in the Lord, for an habitation of God through the Spirit, until we join the Church above, when the last stone of the spiritual building is brought home with shoutings, crying, grace, grace unto it. Farewell Haggai! W e thank thy Lord, and our Lord, for thy ministry and testimony concerning our Jesus. Once upon earth, thou didst witness the weeping of some, and the joy of others, in beholding the second temple. Ere long thou wilt behold the whole body of Christ, forming one temple, of his body the Church, in glory. And then, when the Lamb is on his throne, and encircled by the innumerable multitude of Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles, and all the redeemed out of every nation, kindred, and clime, then will the hymn of salvation be sung amidst the vast host, where all tears are wiped away from all eyes, and the song of redemption to God and the Lamb, will be the everlasting song of heaven! Amen.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Haggai 2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24