For the Love of God, Volume 2/December 13
From Gospel Translations
2 Chronicles 14—15; Revelation 4; Haggai 2; John 3
AS WE SAW IN YESTERDAY’S MEDITATION, Haggai 1 is set in August 520 B.C. Haggai 2 is set in the same year, but is broken up into two parts. The first oracle comes to Haggai in October (2:1-9); the second, in December (2:10-23). The first is measured encouragement to the remnant that is beginning the task of rebuilding the temple; the second promises blessing (2:10-19) and an ultimate “Zerubbabel” (2:20-23).
The first section promises that the new temple, “this house,” will be filled with more glory than the first. If this “glory” is measured in terms of wealth or political influence, that simply did not happen before the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70. But if instead the glory of “this house” is bound up with the coming of the Messiah who graced its structures and who was himself the ultimate “temple” toward which it pointed, the claim is not extravagant. The expression “the desired of all nations” (2:7), taken as a singular, has often been understood to refer to the Messiah. The Hebrew, however, is plural (“the desired things,” i.e., “the treasures”), suggesting a time when all nations will pay homage to the God of Israel. After all, as verse 8 reminds us, all the silver and gold are God’s anyway.
The words “give careful thought” now recur (2:15, 18), reminding the reader how Haggai has used this expression in chapter 1 to call Israel to reflect on the two decades that have elapsed since their return. God’s blessing on them has been restrained, almost miserly. “From this day on” (2:19), however, God will bless the people.
But the greatest blessing is still to come. God predicts that in the vague future, the prophetic “on that day” (2:23), he will overturn kings and kingdoms and make Zerubbabel “like my signet ring” (2:23). Why? Because “I have chosen you,” the Lord Almighty declares. This cannot be a simple reference to the historical Zerubbabel. Too many indicators point beyond him. God is referring to “that day.” Zerubbabel is not only the governor (2:21), but “my servant” (2:23)— a title used of David (Ezek. 34:23; 37:24), as well as of the “suffering servant” of Isaiah. “Servant” and “chosen” are juxtaposed in Isaiah 41:8; 42:1; 44:1. David, Judah, and Mount Zion are similarly “chosen” (Ps. 78:68-70). Recall, too (yesterday’s passage), that Zerubbabel’s grandfather was King Jehoiachin, so that Zerubbabel is in the Davidic line, the messianic line. So Zerubbabel (whose name still appears with honor in contemporary Jewish liturgies for Hanukkah) sets a pattern, part of a larger Davidic pattern, that points to the ultimate Zerubbabel, the ultimate David—King Jesus.