When one thinks of Haggai, one ought to think of “the temple of God”. For after the end of the exile, when Jews had returned to Jerusalem according to God’s promise, it was the prophet Haggai whom God used to exhort the Jews to continue their rebuilding of the destroyed temple of Solomon. Specifically, Haggai exhorted two main leaders, Zerubbabel and Joshua, to lead the work:
In the second year of Darius the king, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came by the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘This people says, “The time has not come, even the time for the house of the LORD to be rebuilt.” ’ ” Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?” Haggai 1: 1 – 4
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 showed reverence for the LORD. Then Haggai, the messenger of the LORD, spoke by the commission of the LORD to the people saying, “ ‘I am with you,’ declares the LORD.” So 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. Haggai 1: 12 – 14
On the twenty-first of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet saying, “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people saying, ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison? But now take courage Zerubbabel,’ declares the LORD, ‘take courage also, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and all you people of the land take courage,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ declares the LORD of hosts. Haggai 2: 1 – 4
Zerubbabel was from the tribe of Judah. His participation in the rebuilding of the temple continued a theme of Scripture, where persons from the tribe of Judah helped to build the Lord’s buildings. In the days of Moses when the tabernacle was constructed, Bezalel from Judah was used.
Then Moses said to the sons of Israel, “See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship;… Exodus 35: 30 – 31
Hundreds of years later, Solomon from Judah, David’s son, oversaw the building of the first temple.
As for the house which King Solomon built for the LORD, its length was sixty cubits and its width twenty cubits and its height thirty cubits. 1 Kings 6: 2
So in the days of Haggai when God used Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, to build the second temple, the pattern was continued. This pattern continued once more, when a few hundred years after Zerubbabel, God used a man from the tribe of Judah to build a temple. This man God used was a descendant of Zerubbabel, no less.
The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers…After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel. Matthew 1: 1 – 2, 12
Jesus the Messiah – of Judah, of David, of Zerubbabel – built a temple made not of stones nor by human hands, but of flesh and human hearts. This temple He built was the church.
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it…” Matthew 16: 13 – 18
The church, built on Christ and His gospel, is the combined group of Jews and Gentiles whom God granted faith to in Jesus Christ. The age old distinction between Jew and Gentile was done away with.
But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2: 13 – 22
But in order to make this temple of living people, Jesus had to die; the temple of His body had to be destroyed.
And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house will consume Me.” The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. John 2: 15 – 21
The Jews destroyed Jesus’ body. And on the third day He raised it from the dead. He established His church, His temple of living people, and made obsolete the physical temple with animal sacrifices.
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. Hebrews 9: 11 – 12
When meditating on this great plan of God – the establishing of a New Covenant by the blood of Christ – one should note that what Christ did on earth was possible, in part, because God spoke to the prophet Haggai, who spoke to Zerubbabel and Joshua. Those two men listened to the prophet and led the people to build the second temple. Without Zerubabbel’s temple, there would not have been Herod’s temple. Without Herod’s temple, there would not have been a veil to be torn, upon the death of Christ.
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. Matthew 27: 50 – 51
Without the torn veil, the words of Hebrews would have no significance to us:
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10: 19 – 22
But since the veil of the temple was torn, we can have great confidence before God, as the author of Hebrews says. And we should be comforted knowing that we are Christ’s temple, the people whom He died for.