Sunday, March 21, 2010

March 21st - The Treasure of All Nations

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Text – Haggai 1-2

For about four or five weeks now I haven't felt like I've been doing Peter justice or that I've been giving you the full amount that each passage has in it. At first it was just nagging at me, but I've gotten to the point where I can't continue Peter until I get a better grasp of what he is saying and find a way to present it to you that will be both worthwhile, memorable, and exhorting you to action.

As I was preparing all week for chapter 3:8-12 and 4:7-11 I just felt like I was skimming the surface of the beauty in these passages and by last night I couldn't bear to teach you the lesson I had prepared for the lack of quality in it. I erased it and was going to start over when I thought, why don't I skip a week to look at something else?

So this week we're going to look at something else. So please turn to the book of Haggai with me, this is the third to last book in the Old Testament, right before Zechariah, which is right before Malachi. I think one of the reasons I'm having such a hard time with Peter is because Peter explains things so well and so concisely that sometimes there isn't anything left to explain and some of the passages probably ought to be just read, possibly with some explanation of what the words mean that Peter is using.

So the reason we're in Haggai is because Haggai doesn't endeavor to explain anything, he just tells it like it is, and I think there is a huge amount to be learned from his book, which is only two chapters, 38 verses long, and we'll try to look at all of them today. Haggai is one of my favorite Old Testament prophets.

Haggai 1:1 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest:

This is where we need to camp out for some context. The date given is the Babylonian dating system way to say August 29th, 520 BC. Why didn't Haggai write "520 BC"? Because he didn't know it was BC! Albeit his going to talk about the Christ in a little bit.

The word of the Lord comes through Haggai to the governor of Judah and the High Priest. This is hugely important because this is in Jerusalem, and Israel has just come back from captivity in Babylon where they spent from 587 to 538, a total of 49 years. The reason a nation would move a conquered nation away from their homeland was so they would be assimilated into the new culture and would lose their identity. This has NEVER worked with the Jewish people.

Haggai 1:2 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD."

The temple was destroyed in 587 BC,

2 Kings 25:9 And he burned the house of the LORD and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down.

It was pillaged and burned, where a once great temple once stood, now was a pile of rubble. When the Jews returned from exile, they immediately began reconstruction of the city, the wall, and of the temple, but the Babylonian and later Persian overseers made them stop working on the walls and temple:

Ezra 4:23-24 Then, when the copy of King Artaxerxes’ letter was read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their associates, they went in haste to the Jews at Jerusalem and by force and power made them cease. Then the work on the house of God that is in Jerusalem stopped, and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

The reason the walls weren't rebuilt was so that Jerusalem wouldn't be defensible, and the temple wasn't rebuilt so that Jerusalem wouldn't have a dwelling place with God. Looking back today this seems strange to us, but that is because we are under a new Covenant where we can worship God in spirit and truth anywhere in the world. But check out Asaph's lament over the destruction of the temple:

Psalm 74:4 They set your sanctuary on fire; they profaned the dwelling place of your name, bringing it down to the ground.

Under this covenant, God was very specific in who could draw near to him and where he would live on earth. It started with the Tabernacle in the desert, then became a big beautiful temple in Jerusalem built by Solomon, overlaid with gold and totally beautiful and huge.

So it's now 18 years later and the people are still's not time to rebuild the temple.

Haggai 1:3-4 Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, "Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?"

Solomon's temple was paneled, this is a sign of wealth, showing that Jerusalem's houses are quite well furnished, and these nice houses are surrounding a burned-out shell of a temple.

Haggai 1:5-9 Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. "Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the LORD. You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?

Judah is in the middle of a depression, both economically and physiologically, things are pretty bad in Judah. The illustration of the hole in the bottom of the money bag is beautiful and I want to spend a bit of time on it. When I worked on F-15's we had this thing called a Comsec Purse. Comsec means communications security, it is the classified stuff that allows the F-15 pilot to be able to talk to other military people, and drop bombs in the exact spot they mean to drop bombs on, and ultimately so they don't get shot down by enemy and friendly fire. It's really important stuff during a war, and it's also a very bad thing to lose. We carry it in a silver purse with no padding so if we need to destroy the things that are in it we can just swing it and bash it on the ground and the classified stuff is destroyed and/or erased just like that. Well, one day I opened it up to get something and everything that was supposed to be in there wasn't, just a hole. After freaking out for a second, I found it without looking too hard, but it was a great lesson on a bag with a hole in the bottom, that no matter how many things I put in that bag, they would end up on the ground and lost.

I think there is a direct relation to what was happening in Judah and what we see economically in America. More than half of Americans spend more than they make, and that ranges across all age and earnings brackets, people that make $12,000 a year and people that make $120,000 a year spend every last penny they make. You give me a dollar and I put it in a purse with a hole in it, and it's gone, you give me $100 and I put it in a purse with a hole in it, and it's gone. This is Judah at the time of Haggai, they can't save, they can't get warm, they are in trouble, and God asks them why? Then he gives the answer.

Haggai 1:9-11 Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.

God is specifically against the efforts of the people, and why, because they haven't seen fit to rebuild the temple. Now don't just think of this as a building, this is where the presence of God dwells among the people. By them not rebuilding the temple, they're saying, "We don't want God in the midst of us." And because of that God is specifically standing against them. Now here is where some of your parents might disagree with me, so ask them today when you get home, but I think this can apply to every nation and not just Israel. Why is America in bad shape today, why is any nation in bad shape? It's because they've forgotten God and have labored apart from him. I have a Bible verse to support this, so it's not like I'm just making it up.

Psalm 9:15-17 The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug; their feet are caught in the net they have hidden. The LORD is known by his justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands. The wicked return to the grave, all the nations that forget God.

The rules apply to whole nations, and not just to Israel and Judah. Where we can get into a major mistake is when we think that these rules apply to individuals instead of whole nations. Like, be good and God will give you stuff. It doesn't work that way, God works with nations, and while he works with individuals there is no rule for him to bless individuals monetarily with money or possessions. Instead you remember from First Peter that the righteous should expect persecution.

Haggai 1:12-15 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD. Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke to the people with the LORD’s message, "I am with you, declares the LORD." And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.

All this to say, on September 21st, 520 BC God turns the people to rebuild the temple and they get to it with his help. Check out what happens on October 17th of that same year after they've been working on this temple for a little while:

Haggai 2:1-5 In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, "Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people, and say, '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? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the LORD. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not.

They've been working on this temple and compared to the last one, everybody 70 years old and older remembers, is terrible. This isn't an underfunded temple, I think they were expecting a big beautiful messianic temple which Ezekiel prophesied in eight chapters in Ezekiel 40-48.

Check out this parallel passage:

Ezra 3:12-13 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, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the joyful shout from the sound of the people’s weeping, for the people shouted with a great shout, and the sound was heard far away.

It's not the temple they were expecting, so many cried, but also many shouted with joy, and the reason they shouted for joy was not that the temple was being built, but that God would once again dwell with them! He is preparing to point to the Messiah, check out verse seven, it's my favorite verse:

Haggai 2:7 And I will shake all nations, so that the Treasure of All Nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the LORD of hosts.

This temple which appears to be nothing, which the builders rejected, is symbolic of the Coming Messiah. We've read this verse before, but it is so amazing at how the Creator God would enter into the world:

Isaiah 53:2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.

Jesus is the true temple of God, not much to look at in his first coming according to the Bible, but the true temple with which God is well pleased. So what did God do with this temple in Haggai when it was built? He dwelt among the people. Check out my favorite verse:

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This small man-sized temple, nothing much to look at, was the glory of the Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. He is the Treasure of All Nations, what a beautiful name for our King. How do we know for sure this is what God is talking about?

Haggai 2:8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the LORD of hosts.

God is saying this temple isn't small for lack of funds or because God couldn't make it bigger, it's small and humble because that's what God intended. He's saying, "If I wanted a solid gold temple with silver inlay, I could have a solid gold temple with silver inlay. This wooden and stone temple that is being built is the temple I want, just as my Son will later be the tabernacle with which I am well pleased."

Haggai 2:9 The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts.

He's talking about the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, the one who will give peace to all who are in his church; not peace with the world, but peace with God.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

Check this out, this is where I think it gets really cool. The first temple, built under Solomon, was magnificent, and this new temple didn't compare. God is saying that the latter glory, the later glory, of this temple will be more than the first, than the former glory. He's talking about Jesus, and Jesus basically quoted this in John 2:

John 2:19,21 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." He was speaking about the temple of his body.

He has the latter glory in view, if you destroy this temple, and in three days it will be raised up as the super-glorious temple which the Jews were expecting from Ezekiel when they built the Haggai temple. And if you look at Jesus in Revelation 1, he's not at all like the Jesus who bled and died, he is wearing his glorified magnificent wonderful radiant temple, his glory perfected in his obedience.

This is the major message of Haggai, and what I want you to get out of it, that Jesus is the dwelling place of God on earth, that his glory is so much greater than anything we can imagine, that if we trade him for the fleeting pleasures of this earth, he will take them away, and that God's temple, Jesus Christ, must be at the center of nations in order for them to be blessed.

The rest of chapter 2 contains an awesome message as well. Because the people to this point might think that what God wants is a building, but he shows them the real reason they were being punished was for their sin, not because they didn't have a temple. They didn't have a temple because their sin kept them from building it, and just having a temple wouldn't have helped if they had continued to sin.

The temple wasn't the issue, see

John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

The people needed to repent of their sin, which would have resulted in the temple being built. Conversely with Jesus, just having a temple is not enough, you must repent towards him.

The final point of Haggai is setting Zerubbabel up as one like a "signet ring" which is a ring of authority, and if you look at Matthew 1 you'll see that Zerubbabel is in the lineage of Jesus Christ, and through him and his claim to the Davidic kingdom gives Christ the authority of God's Kingdom.

So in conclusion, Haggai is a beautiful prophetic book showing the coming Messiah, the tabernacle of God, and that he is the Treasure of All Nations, and so we repent towards him and in him we find peace and glory which far outweighs anything we can find on this earth. Those who reject this temple to live for themselves will find that God stands against them and keeps nations from temporal blessings and individuals from eternal blessings.