God Gets the Glory

Haggai 2:6-9

May 26, 2018 | Brian Bill

A kindergarten teacher was observing her class while they were drawing.  As she walked around the room, she came to a girl who was working diligently.  She stopped and asked what the picture was about.  The girl replied, “I’m drawing God.”  The teacher paused and said, “But no one knows what God looks like.” Without missing a beat, the girl replied, “They will when I’m done.”

Haggai had rallied the remnant to get back to work and rebuild the Temple.  Undoubtedly, this would be for their good, but ultimately it was for God’s glory, so that the watching world would know what God was like.  Haggai 2 reminds us that it’s not about us.  Ultimately it’s about God and His glory.  Here’s the main point for today: God works His way and His will for His glory.

I appreciated Jason Crosby’s message last weekend that reminded us we have no reason to worry – not even about necessities.  As we seek first the kingdom of God, He will provide.  As a way to help us seek Christ and His kingdom the June Bible Reading Guide from 1 and 2 Corinthians is called “Overcoming Problems and Difficulties.” 

Here’s a brief overview of Haggai (put up chart).  After returning from exile in Babylon, God’s people had been tasked with rebuilding God’s Temple.  They eagerly laid the foundation but because of opposition and their own selfish priorities, they stopped working for 16 years.  Haggai was called on the scene to mobilize the people to live on mission.  After putting God back at the center of their lives, they went to work doing what they were called to do.  That’s how chapter one ends.

Two weeks ago in 2:1-5 we learned to remember the past while embracing the present so we can be faithful in the future.  We must avoid comparing with the past, stop focusing on flaws, and overstating issues.  We’re called to be strong, to get back to work and to not fear.  And we can do that because God is with us, for us, and within us.  We were challenged to live in the “good now days” as God does a new thing in our midst.  When I remember the past as better than it was, the present will seem worse than it is.  It’s OK to look at the past, but I can’t live in the past.  

We’re going to see that a focus on the future will help us deal with discouragement today because God is not finished with us yet.  

Let’s read Haggai 2:6-9: “For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land.  And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts.  The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts.  The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts.  And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.”

Here are some observations.

  • This passage is a bit difficult to understand
  • The focus is on the future
  • The word “glory” is used three times
  • God is referred to as the “Lord of Hosts” five times in just four verses.  It’s used over 270 times in the Bible and 14 times alone in this brief book!  It’s fascinating that this name for God appears about 90 times in the three last books of the Old Testament!  The word hosts can refer to an immense army or innumerable angelic beings.

After reading and meditating on this passage I wrote down three words that form a progression of thought.  Shaking leads to Salvation, which results in Shalom.  We’ll use these words as our outline.

1. Shaking. 

Notice verse 6: “For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land.” The word “shake” means “to undulate, quake, tremble or uproar.”  Notice that this will affect everything – heavens and earth, the sea and dry land.  This reminds me of Isaiah 13:13: “Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place.” 

The phrase “in a little while” means that it won’t be long and will come suddenly.  It might not be immediate but it is imminent, meaning it could happen at any time.  And “once more” takes us back to the time God shook everything up before He gave the 10 Commandments in Exodus 19:18: “Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire.  The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly.”

Commentators have various views about the timing of this.  It could be referring to the judgment that took place on the Persians, and then the Greeks and then the Romans.  I actually think there are multiple fulfillments, with the ultimate one coming when Jesus returns to earth.  It’s at that time that the heavens and the earth are going to be shaken as never before. 

Close your eyes as I listen to Revelation 16:18-21: “And there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake.  The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.  And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found.  And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe.”

I’ve been in one earthquake in my life…and it really shook me up.  I was studying Spanish at a McDonald’s in Mexico City.  I was scared.  I felt sick.  But that’s how I always felt when I was trying to learn Spanish!  But then all the tables started shifting like they were riding waves.  It’s hard to know what to do when the very ground you’re standing on is not stable.  Experts tell us that over 10,000 earthquakes hit southern California each year and another big one is coming, they just don’t know when.  Haggai is a seismologist of sorts because he’s predicting a coming quake that will wipe out everything that is not eternal.

If you’re familiar with Handel’s Messiah, you’ll know that a soloist with a deep baritone voice bellows out Haggai 2:6.  Incidentally, this is the only verse in this brief book that is quoted in the New Testament.  Check out Hebrews 12:26-27: “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’  This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.”  Clearly we see here a reference to the Second Coming of Christ.

Here’s the application.  Don’t pin your hopes on the here and now because this is all going away.  Don’t lock into the past and don’t anchor everything to what you can see in the present because it’s all going to crumble and fall.  Hebrews 12 ends with a clarion call for born again believers to be thankful and to worship God with all that we have: “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”  God shakes us so that the things that cannot be shaken will remain.

The earth is moving in Hawaii right now as hot lava is spewing out of the ground.  This is quite unsettling for many even while others seem oblivious to the danger like these golfers trying to finish their game (show pic).

Most people will not come to the Savior without some sort of shaking taking place

If you don’t know Jesus Christ, there is a shaking coming unlike anything you have ever experienced before.  Whatever you’re going through right now, or have gone through in the past, this is a message to repent and get right with God because God works His way and His will for His glory.  Most people will not come to the Savior without some sort of shaking taking place.

The first word is shaking.  The second is salvation.

2. Salvation. 

Verse 7: “And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in…”  This shaking will not only involve our whole planet but will also shake all the people on the planet.  Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Joel all utilized the imagery of the trembling of the nations as the inauguration of the coming of the Messiah, the promised one.  

Would you notice how definite all of this is in verses 7-9?  God says, “I will shake…shall come…will fill…shall be greater…I will give.”  There’s no might or maybe about it.  We see something similar in 2 Peter 3:10: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”

There are two ways to understand “the treasures of all nations shall come in…” 

  • This refers to Jesus.  The King James renders it this way: “the desire of all nations.” Luther viewed Christ as the desired of the nations.  Charles Wesley, in “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” included this interpretation: “Come Desire of Nations, come; fix us in our humble home.”  Handel favored this understanding in The Messiah as well.
  • This refers to the wealth of the nations.  Along with verse 8, this may be a reference to nations bringing their gold and riches, much like the Egyptians did when they gave their wealth to the departing Israelites in Exodus 3:21-22Isaiah 60:5 says, “The wealth of the nations shall come to you.” 

Haggai 2:7 ends with a promise: “…and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of Hosts.”  The people were unsettled and dissatisfied when they put themselves at the center.  If they focus only on the beauty of a building for God, they will miss out on the glory of God.  God wanted them to be unsettled and dissatisfied with the Temple so that they would long for something more…for a time that God “would rend the heavens” and come down.  I like what C.S. Lewis once said, “If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

In verse 8, the Lord of Hosts declares: “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine.”  Randy Alcorn has written one of the best (and shortest) books on generosity called The Treasure Principle.  Three of his main points correlate with this truth.

  • God owns everything and I am his money manager.  Psalm 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”  When I honor God with my wealth I am declaring that He owns me, and everything that I have.  Here’s a suggestion: When you talk about money, instead of saying “my money,” change the wording to, “God’s money.”  
  • My heart always goes where I put God’s money.  We tend to think that our money follows our heart but Jesus said it’s the other way around in Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Money leads; hearts follow.  By giving to God first and by giving him my best, I make sure my heart is focused on heavenly things.  We show what we love by what we do with what we have.  S. Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A often said, “It’s OK to have wealth.  But keep it in your hands, not in your heart.”
  • God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving.  When we get more we can give more. The church at Corinth experienced this in 2 Corinthians 9:11: “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”  

As we move out by faith into the future with our facility expansion and renovation, let’s hold on to the truth that God has in His hand everything we need to do what He would have us to do: “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of Hosts.”  God owns all things, and rules all things.  He is possessor of all things and omnipotent over everything.  When we live and give for the glory of God, we will never lack the means to do His work.

So, what does it mean in verse 9 when it says, “The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts.”?  How could that be?  This temple was obviously not as ornate as Solomon’s because this second temple was outwardly inferior to the first.  There were a lot of things missing.  Haggai is pushing them forward in their thinking, out to the future.  

Think back two weeks where we learned that the older generation was weeping because this temple was nothing like Solomon’s.  But this is not God’s way of looking at it.  The temple might not be as great in gold but it would have greater glory.  God works His way and His will for His glory.

God’s people were called to build something that their natural eyes couldn’t see.  God was getting them to focus on the future coming of Christ and the glory that would fill His house.  To say it another way, God was leading them to leave a legacy for generations yet to come.  That’s one of the things that pumps me up about our facility project.  We get to give so that the next generation will have a place to hear about God’s glory and grace.

This temple, though smaller than Solomon’s, was later renovated by Herod and became beautiful once again [show pic].  The disciples remarked in Mark 13:1: “And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!’”

But what made it really beautiful was that it was filled with the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The greatest glory of the Temple took place when the Son of God entered the Temple.  There was a common belief among the Jews that the Messiah would appear in the second Temple. God’s ultimate glory is wrapped up in the gospel of glory.  I love how Spurgeon captures it: “The glory of having the gospel preached in it, the glory of having the gospel miracles worked in its porches…by the Master was far greater than any hecatombs of bullocks and he-goats – the glory of the gospel, as it were, the cradle of the Christian church – the nest out of which should fly the messengers of peace, who, like the doves, should bear the olive branch throughout the world.”

When the angels announced the birth of Immanuel, they proclaimed in Luke 2:14: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”  When Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms, he used these words in Luke 2:32: “A light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”  We know that Jesus went to the temple when he was twelve to instruct the religious leaders.  He taught in the temple on several occasions during His ministry.  And he even cleared it out when He saw people using it improperly.

Here are two more quick points:

  • Jesus is more important than the temple.  Matthew 12:6: “I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.”
  • Jesus is the true temple according to John 2:19: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  They thought He was crazy because the present temple had taken 46 years to build but Jesus was referring to his death and resurrection.
If you have not settled your salvation, it’s time to do so right now

Whether you understand this passage as referring to the return of Jesus or to the treasures of all nations coming to Him, the main point is that Jesus provides salvation.  If you have not settled your salvation, it’s time to do so right now.  It’s not about moralism…or church attendance…or trying to be good because you will never be good enough.  God’s been shaking you up and now He wants to save you before the real shaking begins.

I was shaken before I was saved.  One of my friends drowned in front of me and a year later my girlfriend broke up with me.  These quakes shook me to my core.  But this shaking eventually led to my salvation.

It’s interesting that the Apostle Peter quotes from Joel 2:30 when he explains how his listeners can be saved.  He first makes reference to worldwide cataclysmic events in Acts 2:20: “The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.”  And then he brings it home by giving a challenge and an invitation in the very next verse: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Jesus said it like this in John 11:40: “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

Listen to this beautiful verse from 2 Corinthians 4:6: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  The glory of God reflects the face of Jesus Christ and when we believe, the glory of God shines in our hearts and gives light to those in darkness.

Shaking leads to salvation, which results in shalom.

3. Shalom. 

Check out the last part of verse 9: “…And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.” While God is referring to the temple here or maybe even to Jerusalem, ultimate peace comes only from being in a relationship with Jesus Christ.  The inward glory of redemption found in the New Testament far exceeds the outward glory of religion in the Old Testament.

According to Strong’s Concordance Shalom means “completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony and the absence of agitation or discord.”  It is rooted in a focus on God and His holiness and comes to us as we honor His holiness.  This is what’s behind the blessing in Numbers 6:24-26, which concludes the first six chapters focusing on God’s holiness and His demands for our holiness: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace [shalom].” 

We can have shalom because peace has been paid for by the shed blood of the Savior who died as our substitute on the cross.  His death fully satisfied the holy wrath of a righteous God, resulting in shalom for those who are saved.  If you have never been saved, you will never have shalom.

I am speaking to some very discouraged and disappointed people who wonder why God has allowed certain things to happen.  Perhaps you’ve been through a series of events that have shaken you deeply.  

I’ll never forget an opportunity I had when we lived in Pontiac several years ago.  After some students died in a tragic car accident the high school principal invited several pastors to come to the school to provide grief counseling.  When I arrived he told me that he was calling an all-school assembly and he wanted me to speak to the entire student body.  When I walked into the auditorium the grief was palpable as many were crying loudly.  Others sat in stunned silence.  I didn’t really know what to say so I kept it very short.  I remember quoting Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  I then said something like this: “You can go through this with God or without Him.  Either way will be hard but if you choose to go through it without Him, you will be shaken to your core and you will never find peace.”

Let me speak to some of you who are being shaken right now: Whatever you do, don’t turn away from God.  Allow the shaking to lead you to salvation so that you can have shalom.  Your disappointment may be God’s appointment to bring you to the cross for forgiveness and salvation.

God works His way and His will for His glory.

We established two weeks ago that the setting for Haggai’s sermon took place on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles.  Let me draw a picture of what happened when Jesus attended this very same celebration some five hundreds later.  This feast was an annual reenactment of a miracle in which a rock gushed out some water for Moses and had past, present and future elements to it.

  • They looked back to the time their nomadic ancestors lived in tents, remembering their deliverance from Egypt.
  • They celebrated the present harvest.
  • And they looked ahead to the coming of the Messiah, their Savior.

In tribute to the amazing stream that appeared in the desert, on every day of the feast, the priest would travel with others to the Pool of Siloam and fill a golden pitcher with water.  He would then come back and pour it on the altar.  After three trumpet blasts, the people would sing Psalms 113-118 and then declare loudly, “Give thanks to the Lord.”  But things changed on the last day.  The priests would walk around the altar seven times to remember what happened at Jericho.  On this day there would be no water in the pitcher to help the people remember the disobedient generation that died in the wilderness.  Everyone stood in silence.

Check out what happened next in John 7:37-38.  On the most crowded day of the most popular feast, we read that the Son of Glory showed up and started teaching in the Temple, which was a remodel and expansion of Zerubbabel’s temple: “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out…” It was remarkable that he stood, because only royal officials would do that.  And then He shouted into the silence, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”  He was making it clear that they would only find their satisfaction in Him.

Sadly, people were divided in their response, just like they are today.

  • Many saw Jesus as special but left it at that.  John 7:40: “When they heard these words, some of the people said, ‘This really is the Prophet.’” 
  • Some viewed Jesus as the Savior.  John 7:41: “Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’”
  • Others were skeptical. “But some said, ‘Is the Christ to come from Galilee?  Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?’  So there was a division among the people over him.”

What group are you in?  What picture of God are you drawing?  Is Jesus just special to you?  Or are you skeptical of the Savior?  My sense is that some of you are ready to confess Him as Savior right now.  

Oh, unsaved friends, flee from the wrath to come!  A time of shaking is coming which you will not be able to withstand!

Jesus is saying something like this today: “Are your insides starting to shrivel up?  Are you parched for purpose in life?  Then drink Me.”  Like water, Jesus goes where we can’t.  His Spirit satisfies by flushing our fears, dislodging our disappointments, and purifying what is putrid.  Jesus makes this invitation to “anyone” who is thirsty.  Are you anyone?  If so, step up to the fountain because you qualify.  Welcome Him into the inner workings of your life.  Let Christ be the water of your soul.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?