The Lord’s Temple and Its Glory

KASUMIGAOKA   2016/11/20
Sermon: “The Lord’s Temple and Its Glory” 「主の宮とその栄光」 

Text: Haggai 2:1-9

I. Introduction: 

When we read the Old Testament, we may be tempted to think, “This is an interesting story,” and not think any more about it. But the Bible says that its message is for believers of every age. (Romans 15:4) “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” The prophecy of Haggai is filled with hope and encouragement for God’s people. Long ago God called His people Israel to build a Temple for Him in Jerusalem. The NT says that we are the Temple of the Lord today. How are we being built up as God’s holy Temple? I hope that you will be encouraged, too, as we think about Haggai’s message for us today.

Let’s review what we learned last week. The people of Israel had been released from their captivity in Babylon by decree of the new Persian king, Cyrus. They were sent back to their own country and to Jerusalem with the permission and the command of King Cyrus to rebuild the Temple of the Lord. They happily began the work of rebuilding the Temple, but they soon faced opposition from the neighboring peoples. For many years, during the successive reigns of several kings and political turmoil in Persia, the people of Israel were prevented from continuing the rebuilding effort. They gradually began to lose interest in God’s Temple. They focused on their own houses and their own personal prosperity. But they did not quite succeed in anything they tried. They were discouraged. Then Haggai came with a message from the Lord God. When Haggai spoke the prophecies we read here in this book, the people rose up, and began to build the Lord’s house once again.

II. Haggai’s Second Prophecy: Encouraged by the Lord of Glory!

A. The Source of Israel’s Encouragement: God With Us

As we begin this second chapter in Haggai, we find that almost one month has passed since the building work has begun. Yet, as the people look at the results of their labor, they may have already begun to wonder if this project can really ever succeed. One month is not a long time. And as the builders looked at their progress, surely one month of hard work had not accomplished very much! Sometimes our own impatience can cause discouragement. At this point, Haggai once again brought a message to the builders from the Lord their God. At first, Haggai’s prophecy does not sound encouraging at all. In fact, his words must have had the opposite effect! God’s message through Haggai to Zerubbabel the governor of Judah, and to Joshua the high priest, and to all the remnant of the people was this (v. 3): “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?” How do you think the builders felt when they heard this? Maybe God was reading their thoughts! “This work is going so slowly; we’re not making any progress; this will take forever; we’ll never be able to build a Temple like the old one!”

Why do you suppose Haggai’s message begins with this discouraging reminder of the “temple in its former glory?” This is what I think (although Haggai does not actually tell us): In spite of its “glory,” that former Temple was a failure. That fabulous Temple was built during the days of Israel’s glory, when the fame of Jerusalem spread throughout the world. It was a beautiful Temple, whose inner walls were lined with solid gold and hung with costly tapestries. Its priests performed their duties In the Temple while wearing beautiful garments. When sacrifices were offered up, the Temple was filled with the aroma of incense, and the beautiful sound of Levitical choirs singing to the accompaniment of harps and lyres and other musical instruments. Like the ancient Tabernacle of Moses, the Temple had been built according to God’s pattern (1Chr. 28:19), in the place God had chosen. And when it was dedicated, the glory of God Himself filled the Temple (2Chr. 5:14; 7:2-3).

Very few of the Jews who heard Haggai’s words were old enough to remember that glorious Temple. But there was one fact that no one could deny: that glorious Temple lay in ruins. Before Judah’s defeat by Babylon, false prophets had proclaimed that the Temple in Jerusalem was their ultimate “insurance policy.” “Because we have the Temple of the Lord, we need not worry; we are invincible,” they said. The prophet Jeremiah had warned the people in Jer. 7:3-4, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.” Even that glorious Temple could not protect the city from God’s righteous judgment. It was a glorious Temple, but it could not save them from defeat! God spoke to the residents of Jerusalem through His prophet in Jeremiah 7:8-11. “‘Behold, you are trusting in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal, and walk after other gods that you have not known, then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, “We are delivered!” –so that you may continue to do all these abominations? Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,’ declares the Lord.” Whenever the Jews considered the former glorious Temple, they remembered that it fell. But they should also remember why it fell. It fell because the Lord had abandoned it. It was not the Temple which protected and blessed the people. It was not the sacrifices of the people, nor their regular worship practices that guaranteed their success. It was the Lord of the Temple who did that. Their success and safety and prosperity was His gift to them, when they obeyed and served Him.

When the people in Jerusalem began to re-build the Temple, what were they thinking ? What were they seeking? Some wanted to build a glorious Temple like the former Temple of Solomon to restore honor to Jerusalem. But Haggai said to them, “This Temple you are building is ‘like nothing in comparison’ to the former Temple. If that is what you want to build, you will not succeed. But is that really what the Lord is asking you to build? God has something far better planned than the former Temple which fell!” So Haggai says in v. 4, “’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,’ says the Lord of hosts.” It is not the Temple itself that brings honor and glory to Jerusalem, but the Lord who inhabits the Temple!

He is the One who you must listen to. He will show you what kind of Temple He desires. Some thought, “Why build the Temple, if it is not as “glorious” as the former Temple?” This is Haggai’s answer: The things that impress men do not impress God. The Temple is not to be valued by its impressive size, or by its huge stones, or gold, or even by the worship activities of its priests and their sacrifices. What is important to God is the character of His people who worship Him. We will come back to this in a few minutes. Here, we must notice that God says to the people, “Take courage, and work, because I am with you.” It is God’s presence that gives glory to His Temple. And it is God’s presence that gives glory to Israel and sets them apart from all other peoples on earth. This is what Haggai’s prophecy refers to in v. 6. It is God’s promise, which He made to Israel when He brought them out of Egypt. “My Spirit is abiding in your midst; so do not fear!” In Exodus 33:14-16 this covenant promise is expressed in the following dialog between God and Moses. “And the Lord said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then Moses said to Him, ‘If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?’” Moses understood the great blessing of having the living God accompanying the people of Israel. He would be their guardian and their provider. As long as the Lord God was with them they would succeed in whatever they attempted to do.

B. Where is God’s Glory?

God had revealed Himself to Moses in several ways. He had spoken to him in a burning bush; He had shown His power through many mighty works and plagues upon the resistant pharaoh of Egypt; He had spoken to Moses from the midst of a cloud and smoke on the summit of Mt. Sinai. But Moses wanted to learn more about God’s ways; he wanted to know Him more intimately. So, after receiving God’s promise that He would indeed accompany their people and give them rest, Moses made an extraordinary request. Just two verses later, in Exodus 33:18, Moses said, “Please show me Your glory!” I wonder what Moses hoped to see. He had already seen so much more of God’s glory than most people had seen. But he wanted to know his God even better. So the Lord God granted his request. But listen to the way God would show His glory to Moses. (Ex. 33:19) “And the Lord said, ‘I will cause all My goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim My name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” So Moses followed the Lord’s directions and climbed Mt. Sinai once more. Then, Moses saw the glory of the Lord, as He had promised. (Exodus 34:6) “And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in grace and truth, maintaining love to thousands , and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished …” When God reveals His glory to man, He does it in an unexpected manner. We may think that God’s glory consists of thunder and lightning, fire and wind, the brilliance of the stars, and the vastness of space. And, of course, to an extent, those works of His do proclaim the glory of the Creator. But when God Himself chooses to show His glory in the fullest possible way, what does He show? God shows us His character! His glory is grace and truth! It is His grace and truth that God wants all men to see in His Temple.

In verses 6-9 of Haggai’s prophecy, the Lord promises that “‘once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. And I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations; and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts.” He promises by His mighty power to “shake awake” all the nations, and to fill His Temple with His true glory, which is the fullness of His grace and truth. Then the nations will come with their wealth to honor and serve God there. It is not the wealth of the nations, however, that God seeks. For, as He says in v. 8, “The silver is Mine, and the gold in Mine,” declares the Lord of hosts. Of course it is His, for He made it! What God seeks from men is the recognition that His glory is His character. He will fill His Temple with the glory of His goodness—His grace and truth. He is a God of mercy and justice. And this glory—“‘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.” (v. 9)

What is Haggai’s prophecy pointing to? A future when all the Gentiles will join the people of Israel. They will gather together at His house—or temple—to worship and serve the Lord, because they have been shaken by God’s power and drawn to the glory of His grace and truth! The Lord’s glory in that future temple will be greater than the glory of Solomon’s Temple. And God will give peace to all nations who gather there to serve Him in that day. Can we know what great events Haggai’s prophecy refers to? The New Testament gives us some good clues. For example, John writes in John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John is referring to Jesus, of course. It is Jesus who is “full of grace and truth.” And that character is so unusual that John says, “There is no one like Him—He is like the only true Son of God, showing God’s character fully.” It is this Jesus who, after explaining a certain matter of God’s Law to some Pharisees, says to them, (Matt. 12:6) “But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here.” “What could be greater than the glory of God’s temple?” the Pharisees must have wondered. Jesus soon explained what He meant. “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.” (Matt. 12:7) The Jews who served in the Temple of Jesus’ day had not understood that God’s compassion is His great glory. It is mercy that pleases God more than sacrifices! Near the close of His ministry, Jesus led His disciples to Jerusalem for one last visit to the Temple. He found the temple grounds filled—not with the wealth of the nations—but with greed, theft, dishonesty, and corruption. “You have made My Father’s house a den of thieves,” He had said. His teaching was rejected by the priests and the teachers of the Law. So, Jesus left the Temple for the last time, saying, in Matthew 23: 38, “Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!” His disciples were impressed with the beautiful Temple courts, but Jesus, who was the fullest manifestation of God’s glory, would not return to that place. God’s glory had departed from that Temple, as it had departed from the Temple of Solomon. But God had a different sort of Temple planned–a different sort of “house” in which His glory would dwell. Jesus’ apostle Paul wrote of this greater Temple in several places. He wrote to Timothy, “I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” {1 Tim. 3:15}. The church of Jesus Christ has become the new “house” where God Himself dwells; it is to be filled with God’s glorious truth. And in Ephesians 3:16-21, Paul prays for the church in Ephesus, asking “that God would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly, beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”


Let me conclude with this summary of what we learn from Haggai’s second prophecy. First, we learn that we, too, will meet with discouragements, opposition, and unsatisfied expectations. When we do, we must remember that God is not far from us. In fact God Himself has taken us for His own dwelling place. Jesus Christ has sent His Holy Spirit to be with us forever, as our Comforter and our Helper. Jesus Himself is “Immanuel,” God with us. And, secondly, for those who seek to carry out God’s will, nothing will be impossible! Encourage one another with these words. So take courage; use the time, the talents, and the energy that God has given you to build up one another. Seek to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord, to be like Him, to be filled with His fullness. Our goal in building His church is to show the glory of our Savior and Lord. To God be the glory in Jesus Christ and in His church forever. Amen.

カテゴリー: 説教 パーマリンク


メールアドレスが公開されることはありません。 * が付いている欄は必須項目です