Haggai, Prophet of the Greater Temple: Part 4
Issue No. 340
Haggai 2:6-8 says,
6 For thus says the Lord of hosts, “Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all the nations; and I will fill this house with glory,” says the Lord of hosts. 8 “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,” declares the Lord of hosts…
As we showed earlier, Haggai prophesied during the time of the Persian empire, which God raised up to shake Babylon and to fund the work of building the temple.
This passage is interpreted by divine inspiration in Heb. 12:26, 27, saying,
26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” 27 And this expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
The author says that Haggai’s prophecy refers to the first Pentecost, when God came down upon Mount Horeb to give the law to His people. At that time, “the whole mountain quaked violently” (Exodus 19:18), and “all the people who were in the camp trembled” (Exodus 19:16).
This was the day that God formally organized the nation as the first Kingdom of God. Great as it was, it was only a small type and shadow of something much greater yet to come. Hebrews 12 points out that Haggai prophesied of a greater shaking that was to take place in the future when the new Kingdom was to be established.
He tells us that the purpose of the shaking was to throw down and remove “those things which can be shaken… in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” This greater event is no longer a Pentecostal event, but is instead the fulfillment of the feast of Tabernacles. No longer is it to be one small nation that forms the Kingdom, but all nations. Both the heavens and the earth will be renewed as the old order passes away (Rev. 21:4, 5).
In long-term prophecy, this shaking will not cease until the heavens and the earth have come fully into agreement with God and His laws. Yet also, a great “earthquake” will overthrow Babylon (Rev. 16:18) to begin this time of shaking. The first things to be shaken will be the political and economic structures of Babylon, followed by personal shakings as men repent and turn from their carnal ways.
This prophetic earthquake correlates with the stone that strikes the image on its feet and grinds it to powder or chaff for the wind to disperse (Dan. 2:35). After the initial “quake,” it will take a thousand years of more gradual quaking to bring the entire earth under the dominion of Jesus Christ.
At the end of the Sabbath Millennium, God will release Satan in order to induce the rebellious nations that yet remain in outer darkness to attack the Kingdom of God (Rev. 20:7-9). This is to give God lawful cause to conquer these last remaining portions of the earth and to enforce His law upon the captives.
Once the earth has been fully subdued, then the general resurrection will summon all of the dead from ages past, and the final Age of Judgment will begin. That judgment will serve to shake the rest of humanity in the “lake of fire” until they too are fully in agreement with God and His law.
The Law of Creation and Ownership
In verse 8 God lays claim to both the gold and the silver. Prophetically speaking, this speaks of Babylon (the head of gold) and Medo-Persia (the arms of silver). Just as God owns all the minerals that He created in the ground, so also does He own all the nations that He created.
There are multiple layers of meaning suggested in this prophecy. The overcomers, too, are being refined as gold and silver (Mal. 3:3) in order to make them His peculiar treasure—or “My own possession” (Mal. 3:17 NASB).
By right of creation, God owns all that He has created. When men say that they “own” something, their rights are limited, because they are really just stewards of what God owns. When men treat their possessions as if they had unlimited rights, they set themselves up as gods and are guilty of usurping and misusing God’s possessions.
In Lev. 25:23 says,
23 The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.
When the Israelites misused their inheritance in the land of Canaan, God exercised His right of ownership by sending them away and by giving His land to foreigners as it pleased Him. So in Jer. 27:5, 6 God tells Judah through the prophet,
5 I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight. 6 And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and I have given him also the wild animals [beasts] of the field to serve him.
When Israel and Judah turned away from God and His law, they began to live increasingly by the law of the jungle, where the survival of the fittest was the primary code of ethics and where “might makes right” determined the top rulers of society. God’s judgment, based on the “eye for eye” principle of equal justice, put Israel and Judah under the rule of “beast” nations.
This is why Daniel 7 pictures the four empires as beasts (lion, bear, leopard, and iron-toothed beast). It was as if God were turning the land back into a jungle. The chaos of men’s laws and governments, however, replaced animals in fulfillment of the law.
Daniel 2, however, pictures those same beast nations in metallic terms (gold, silver, bronze, and iron) in order to give us further revelation from another perspective. Just as God owns all men and all beasts by right of creation, so also does He own the land itself, along with all natural resources. In particular, He lays claim to the gold and the silver, but He really owns all of the minerals and has the right to do with them according to His will.
The Battle of Jericho
The four metals in Daniel’s prophecy are mentioned in the battle of Jericho, for God laid claim to them as spoils of war. Joshua 6:19 says,
19 But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.
Hence, the overthrow of Jericho is a type and shadow of the fall of Mystery Babylon, at which time all of the beast nations fall. The stone which crushes the image on its feet also grinds the entire image to powder, including its head of gold, arms of silver, belly of bronze, and legs of iron (Dan. 2:35). This event in our time is prefigured prophetically by Joshua’s conquest of Jericho. Therefore, when God lays claim to the metals in Joshua 6:19, He is really telling us that He owns all of the nations represented by these metals. In other words, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome “are holy to the Lord.”
The purpose of Joshua’s conquest was to put all things under the feet of Jesus (Yeshua, or Joshua). Nothing was to be lost, but all the nations were to be placed into God’s treasury and into the care of stewards.
Thus, God says through Haggai, “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine.” God had some concern about the misuse of natural resources, but more importantly, His concern was for the ungodly nations that acted as beasts, but who needed to be placed in God’s treasury for Kingdom use.
Further, the stewards of the Kingdom cannot do their job properly without knowing that God considers those nations to be valuable and demands that they be placed in His treasury. Unfortunately, many Christians have been taught that God will destroy those nations and that they will be lost forever. Such Christians play the role of Achan, who took some of the gold and silver and buried them in the ground.
By usurping God’s treasure for his own personal use, Achan was judged by the law for disobeying a direct command. He was stoned, and his body burned with fire (Joshua 7:25). Many other believers are like Achan, not wanting these beast/metallic nations to be placed in God’s treasury. Perhaps this is one reason why Paul says that many will be “saved yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:15).
In 2 Kings 6 we read how Elisha the prophet needed more housing for the school of prophets. 2 Kings 6:5-7 tells us what happened:
5 But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Alas, my master! For it was borrowed.” 6 Then the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” And when he showed him the place, he cut off a stick [ets, “tree, wood”], and threw it in there, and made the iron float. 7 And he said, “Take it up for yourself.” So he put out his hand and took it.
This story prophesies of the fourth empire pictured by the “legs of iron” (Dan. 2:33). In Dan. 7:7 it is the fourth beast that has iron teeth. Elisha’s story shows the recovery of the iron axe head. When the prophet “cut a stick,” that is, a tree, and threw it into the water, it made the iron float so that it could be recovered.
A similar story is found in Exodus 15:25 when the Israelites encountered the bitter waters of Marah. Moses was shown a “tree” (ets), which, when he cast it into the water, the water was made sweet.
In both cases (Moses and Elisha), the tree represented the cross of Christ, by which the bitter waters of the heart are sweetened and by which also the iron kingdom is restored to the treasury of God.
This is how the nations are restored and how Jesus Christ can lay claim to all the nations as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16). This is all implied in the law that grants ownership to those who labor, including God, who labored for six days to create all things. By this law, God lays claim to silver and gold in Hag. 2:8, and by the same law He claims to own Babylon and Persia as well.
Gold and silver both represent money. By extension, they speak of economic systems, since we read in Lev. 27:16 that “a homer of barley seed [was valued in trade] at fifty shekels of silver.” (See my booklet, Biblical Money.)
So when God lays claim to silver and gold, He also claims the right to establish proper economic systems. The four beast nations have had their own economic laws. In recent centuries men have devised various currencies which they call money.
However, most of these currencies are fraudulent from a biblical perspective, because they are based on faith in Babylon, rather than in God. Likewise, these currencies tend to decrease in value over time, which is a way to steal a little money from the people each day.
Nonetheless, when the kings from the east overthrow the Babylonian west, God will use them to restore honest money that is asset-backed. This may take time, but as the nations learn the laws and ways of God (Isaiah 2:3), they will make whatever adjustments are necessary to conform to God’s economic laws.
The Latter Glory
The prophet then concludes his revelation that was given on the seventh day of Tabernacles, telling us in Hag. 2:9,
9 The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,” says the Lord of hosts, “and in this place I shall give peace,” declares the Lord of hosts.
It is plain, as we have already shown, that the second temple was never going to be greater than the former (Solomon’s temple). It was, as Haggai himself admitted, “nothing in comparison” (Hag. 2:3). Yet this was a faith work, that is, a prophetic work.
Their temple would eventually be torn down and replaced by Herod’s temple—which was much greater from a carnal viewpoint—but even Herod’s temple would last only a short time before being destroyed in 70 A.D. Neither Zerubbabel’s nor Herod’s temple could fulfill Haggai’s prophecy.
It is only by the revelation of the Pentecostal Age that we see clearly that Haggai spoke of a temple made of living stones that was being “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone” (Eph. 2:20).
Nonetheless, the faith-work of the builders in Haggai’s time laid foundations for the apostolic work that began many centuries later. Furthermore, everyone throughout past ages who has done faith-work is a fellow-laborer in the same building project and will be rewarded accordingly.
In other words, the laborers in Haggai’s day did not labor in vain, even though their temple lacked the glory seen in Solomon’s temple. However, it should be noted that if an earthly temple is rebuilt on the old mount in Jerusalem, it will not be a work of faith, but of rebellion, regardless of their religious zeal. Their motives are wrong, for they spring from carnal minds and fleshly perspectives. They attempt to fulfill the prophecies through Hagar-Jerusalem in order to prove that her children are the chosen ones.
They may build, but God will never glorify such a temple with His presence. He forsook Jerusalem as Shiloh. Even as the glory departed from Shiloh (Psalm 78:60), so also did the glory depart from Jerusalem (Jer. 7:12-14). It has gone to a new temple made of better materials.
Those who refuse to accept this are in danger of building things that will only be shaken down and destroyed.
The Third Prophecy
After the second revelation that was given on the seventh day of Tabernacles, Haggai was given another word to convey to the people, beginning in Hag. 2:10,
10 On the twenty-fourth of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Haggai the prophet, saying…
This prophecy came two months after Haggai’s second word (Hag. 2:1). This word was given to him on Kislev 24, which was in December of 520 B.C.
Hag. 2:11 says,
11 Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Ask now the priests for a ruling.”
The priests were the custodians of the law and were charged with the responsibility for teaching and interpreting it, even as the prophets were called to apply it prophetically to national and personal situations. So the priests were asked for a legal ruling (or “legal opinion”) on the law of God before the prophet applied it.
The First Legal Question
The question is posed in Hag. 2:12,
12 “If a man carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and touches bread with this fold, or cooked food, wine, oil, or any other food, will it become holy?” And the priests answered and said, “No.”
In other words, if a priest were carrying the meat of a sacrifice (which is “holy meat”), and if that meat were to touch other food, would the holiness of the holy meat sanctify the ordinary food? Can holiness be transmitted in this way? The answer is “No.”
This was a ruling based on the law in Lev. 22:4-6, where a priest who is ceremonially unclean (for example, if he has touched a dead body) is not allowed to offer the sacrifices. This legal ruling shows that an unclean priest cannot expect to be made holy by touching something holy. The law does not specifically say this, so the prophet asks for a ruling.
The Second Legal Question
The second question is similar in Hag. 2:13,
13 Then Haggai said, “If one who is unclean from a corpse touches any of these, will the latter become unclean?” And the priests answered and said, “It will become unclean.”
So we see that if an unclean priest touches any of these holy sacrifices, the priest is not made holy, but rather the sacrifices are rendered unclean. This was why the law forbids unclean priests from ministering in the temple. Only if a close relative dies did the law permit a priest to defile himself by touching a dead body, and he was unclean for seven days. Lev. 21:1-3 says,
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them, “No one shall defile himself for a dead person among his people, 2 except for his relatives who are nearest to him, his mother and his father and his son and his daughter and his brother, 3 also for his virgin sister, who is near to him because she has had no husband; for her he may defile himself.
Only a “clean” or undefiled priest can handle the holy things of God and make sacrifices that are satisfactory to God. If he is defiled by touching a dead body, and yet tries to minister to the people, the entire worship is unclean.
Haggai’s immediate application of this legal ruling was to show that the years in which the temple work had ceased (533-520 B.C.) had seen crop failures. The reason was because their priests were unclean, and the sacrifices being made on the makeshift altar during that time were actually unacceptable to God. Hag. 2:14 says,
14 Then Haggai answered and said, “So is this people. And so is this nation before Me,” declares the Lord, “and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.”
This stressed the importance of finishing the temple. Without a proper sacrifice, utilizing clean priests, every work of their hands was unclean, regardless of their good intentions. Keep in mind that these were the few who had left Babylon to rebuild the kingdom and Jerusalem. If their works remained unclean, what might we say about the works of those who remained in Babylon?
The fact is that during times of divine judgment, and especially during the days of captivity, everything is in an unclean state, because it all falls short of the glory of God. Even building the second temple itself did not really solve the problem. First, the temple was still subject to the dominion of the second beast (Persia). Secondly, the blood of bulls and goats can never remove sin (Heb. 10:4).
Third, everyone, including the priests was yet mortal. In that highest sense, they were all touching a dead body. No one is truly rendered “clean” until they stop touching a dead body.
Haggai does not directly address this deeper problem, but focuses on the more immediate problem of crop failures and its relationship to their temple project.