- 1. Haggai 2:6 – 9.
- “For thus says the Lord of hosts: There will be one more; it is a small one. I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. I will shake the nations and the precious things of all the nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. Mine is the silver and mine is the gold – the word of the Lord of hosts. Great shall be the glory of this house – the latter more so than the former, said the Lord of hosts, and I will grant peace in this place – the word of the Lord of hosts.”
The prophet is encouraging those who returned from the Babylonian exile. They were disappointed with the modest nature of the SecondTemple (2:3, 4, Zechariah 4:10), and this was God’s message of reassurance. God encouraged the people by telling them that this Temple will be filled with glory (vs. 7), a glory that will surpass that of the FirstTemple (vs. 9). This prophecy did not come to pass in its most literal sense. Brown admits as much[xxiii]. Still, Brown contends that in a certain sense the glory of the SecondTemple actually did exceed that of the First and that is because Jesus – who Brown believes is God Himself, visited the SecondTemple but did not visit the FirstTemple.
One problem with this interpretation is the simple fact that God did visit the FirstTemple in an open and obvious way (1Kings 8:11, 2Chronicles 7:1 – 3). All who witnessed that visitation – and the entire nation was present – recognized that the God of Israel had come to dwell in His house. When the people saw Jesus walking in the Temple courtyard (he couldn’t enter the sanctuary itself for he was not a priest), they just saw a man. So which visitation was greater? Or does Brown believe that Jesus is God while God is not God?
The second problem with Brown’s interpretation is that Jesus never came to glorify the Temple. According to Christian theology he actually came to replace the Temple. According to Brown Jesus came to replace both the atonement that was provided through the Temple offerings and the connection to God that the Temple represented[xxiv]. How could the career of Jesus, a man who claimed the glory of the Temple for himself, be considered a glorification of the same Temple?
So what did Haggai mean with this prophecy? The fact that the prophecy was not fulfilled in the most literal sense, lends weight to the explanation[xxv] that this prophecy was conditional on the nation’s full repentance – as was the prophecy of Zechariah (6:15 – see below). When the nation ultimately turns back to God[xxvi], then the glory of the Temple will indeed surpass the glory of the First Temple[xxvii].
If we will insist on a fulfillment of this prophecy during the time of the SecondTemple, we ought to allow the scriptures to tell us how the glory of God was manifest in the Second Temple[xxviii].
The scriptures teach that the purpose of the sanctuary was so that God could dwell in the midst of Israel (Exodus 25:8, 29:45, Ezekiel 37:27), and so that He could meet with Israel there (Exodus 23:17, 29:43, Deuteronomy 16:16). The primary purpose of the Temple was the connection it created between God and His beloved nation.
The Godly spirit which guided the nation during the SecondTemple era was not as dramatic or as openly manifest as was the prophetic spirit that was manifest in the FirstTemple period. But the connection that it created between God and His people ran deeper and was more fully absorbed by the nation. In the context of this same prophecy, Haggai assured the people that God’s own spirit had come to dwell in their midst (Haggai 2:5)[xxix]. Under the influence of this spirit the leaders of the Jewish people were able to seal the canon of scripture. It was through this spirit that God influenced our leaders to establish a network of rabbinical institutions which preserved the nation’s loyalty to God throughout the darkness of the exile. The divine inspiration bestowed through this spirit enabled our leaders to formulate the Mishnah and Talmud, the books that would unite all of Israel throughout the realms of time and space in their ongoing discussion of God’s Law.
In the historical context of the SecondTemple, the spirit that dwelt amongst our people encouraged the brave resistance to the Greek persecution. The people were inspired to take on the might of the Syrian-Greek Empire in order to maintain their loyalty to God and His holy Law. The victory that was achieved against overwhelming odds and the miracle of the Menorah associated with that victory, still testifies to the world that God was with the Jewish people (Zechariah 9:13 – 16).
The glory that was manifest in the SecondTemple was not more spectacular than the glory that was manifest in the FirstTemple. But it went further in achieving its purpose, and in that sense it was greater than the glory manifested in the FirstTemple. That still and silent spirit that came to dwell in the Second temple is still manifest amongst us, and will remain with us forever – just as God has promised (Isaiah 59:21, Haggai 2:5, Zechariah 4:6).
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal