Haggai and Zechariah were the two prophets that accompanied the Israelites from exile to home. Their primary focus was the restoration of Israel, not so much as a powerhouse, but as a people and nation of God, including both temple worship and the Davidic kingly line. Later on down the chronological line (beyond today’s readings), the temple is completed. However, the temple that was completed did not have the glory of the old one in physical status.
As Haggai’s words are considered canonical (i.e., verified as the action of God), then the Jews saw something much different than the literal word (often our temptation when we are reading). From a Jewish standpoint (especially Haggai’s traditionalist perspective), the temple isn’t so much the point as a people faithfully pursuing God with one of the signs being faithful worship as prescribed in the Old Testament. What does it matter what it looked like today (remember the original Temple was David’s plan, inspired by God, but not prescribed) when faithful worship and a God-fearing king were what was required?
That Haggai was seeing beyond the immediate temple and even beyond the immediate kingly line tells us that Jesus’ words were not without historical precedence (as some have claimed). As we look beyond Jesus’ time on earth, we can see the fulfillment of Haggai’s words, as faith in Jesus Christ has changed the world. Though, sadly, many of those who cried, “Lord, Lord,” were liars, murderers, and power-grabbers beyond the average struggling Christian.
Haggai’s understanding of a God-honoring relationship revolved around the temple. That is what tradition and the Scriptures taught. Haggai understood quite well, as he was coming from exile, that empty actions were not what was needed. It was actions that were firmly grounded in who God is, and that the Israelites were God’s chosen people.
While Jesus’ words may have seemed revolutionary at the time, Jesus did answer the “Christ will be with us forever” in a way unexpected, though by pure reason, it probably should have been an idea. The Christ was with the Children of God forever…in their souls, their temple to God. Thus a relationship through the temple was now very personal, and the Christ was with them.
Would Haggai have been able to recognize that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of his prophecy in only a way that God could make it happen? Perhaps. We can only look at Haggai’s words and see Christ in retrospect.
- What practices do you fulfill in relationship with God? How about in regards to the temple, both body and church?
- What do you think is comparable to the Davidic kingly line in regards to lively rightly before God?
- When was the last time you evaluated your habits through the lens of habit or “because you need to”? Why is it important?
Lord, guide us ever deeper into meaningful and life-changing relationship with you. Amen.