76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus
Sermon 73 - Haggai’s revelation of God.
July 1st, 1965
Received by Dr Samuels
I am here, Jesus.
In the five hundred years or more to the time of my coming as the Messiah, the Temple acquired vast treasures, not through a stripping or despoiling of other nations, as Haggai thought, and so declared in order to infuse his fellowmen with needed confidence and importance, but through patient acquisition of the world’s goods. But more vital beyond comparison was Haggai’s revelation from God:
“The glory of this House shall be greater than that of the former, saith the Lord of Hosts; and in this place I will give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts.”
(Haggai 2: 9)
The prophecy of Haggai, as far as the Temple’s glory was concerned, may be understood in the light of the Maccabean rule, even the institution of Chanukah, and in the fact that the duration of this Temple exceeded that of Solomon’s, as well as in the adornments and magnificent additions made by Herod.
Two months later Haggai had the occasion to give his third message - this time one of reproof as well as stimulus for continued action. This one concerns the consideration that uncleanliness is stronger than holiness in its effect upon people and that therefore the uncleanliness that up to the present had characterized the people (through their indifference to the Lord’s House for more than three generations) could hardly be atoned for in the short time they had commended the rebuilding of the Temple, especially as the Samaritan influence, a source of unholiness, had been with them so potently. This comparison of a priestly nature was used to effectively silence the complaints of those who failed to see an immediate improvement in conditions after work on the Temple had begun.
Haggai affirms that the next harvest would be a plentiful one, thanks to the Lord’s reward for His people now that they had been touched to care about His Temple. The last message, spoken the same day as the third, predicts the “shaking of the heavens and the earth, and the overthrow of the nations,” and the choosing of Zerubbabel as the servant of the Lord. There are those who have taken this reference to mean that God considered Zerubbabel His Messiah. Although this is the attitude of Zechariah, whom I shall discuss soon, this, however, is not the meaning. Rather, the prophecy is to the overthrow of the Persian Empire, which took place some thirty-four years later, and the nullification of Jeremiah’s prophecy against the progeny of Jehoiakim, whose grandson, as I have mentioned, was this same Zerubbabel.
Jeremiah had declared of Jehoiakim:
“Write ye this man childless… for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David.’
(Jeremiah 22: 30)
The ruler’s sincere repentance, however, had in time averted the fulfillment of the evil; and Zerubbabel would in time ascend to a high station among the Hebrew people. Haggai was much in sympathy with Zerubbabel and was glad to prophesy a return to power of the king’s grandson, for the man’s sake and for the sake of Israel. Eventually, however, he was forced to withdraw as a result of opposing forces.
When we look back at the work of Haggai, there are two aspects which seem most dominant:
- his ability to infuse faith and stir men to action and
- his insight into the problem of a fixed law to cover thousands of years. He rightly felt that laws dealing with God were immutable: love for God, as in the Ten Commandments, remained untouchable. But since he understood that material conditions change, he advocated amendments in the law to meet those changes, without lessening their spirit or intent.
This conception of a fixed versus pliant interpretation of the Hebrew law caused a cleavage in the unity of the people, as one may see in the divergent views of the Sadducees, the conservatives, and the Pharisees, or moderates, who believed in an oral law to supplement and modernize the old statutes, which were being crystallized into something unworkable, or causing frustrations and burdens for those who sought to adhere to them. For example, when Moses gave the Ten Commandments, he declared against adultery by married women, because the latter were considered the chattel of their husbands, and the intent was that such property used by someone else constituted a crime against the owner of this property. This was the original meaning of the Seventh Commandment, and it was only many centuries later that the higher view that adultery was a violation against one’s vows of love and fidelity developed to supersede the earlier economic attitude towards women.
In more recent days where this Commandment is broken, the violation is often not so much in breaking of this statute as in the insincere marriage to one whom the violator did not really love, but married for other motives. And thus, even today, adultery has evolved from an economic crime, punishable with death, to a religious one characterized by divorce (instead of pardon and reconciliation, as I advocate) and to an attack against a marriage institution which does not safeguard against loveless unions, or unions for sex expression only, or other unworthy reasons. Here then is one example of how laws and attitudes towards them have changed with the passing of time and the realization that they cannot be set in a rigid mold.
When I came to earth and preached in the Holy Land, I had discussions of this nature with opponents of the elastic concept of law, and some of these were Pharisees who argued not in the vicious or venomous vein that one reads in the New Testament, but in the atmosphere that so often prevails where the views held are very precious and important to each. Thus, I healed on the Sabbath and even helped a mule out of a hole, to the consternation of those who set their store by rigid rules, whereas I contended that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath, putting life first, as God intended. Thus you see that, in so doing, I was not going outside Hebrew law, as some commentators believe, or even bringing a new, God-given revelation to mankind, as some Christians would like to think, but I was following, and agreeing with, the insight of Haggai, prime mover in the rebuilding of the Temple and Hebrew prophet par excellence. And I was also in agreement with a great number of the Pharisaic membership, where views of a liberal interpretation of the laws made of me a sympathizer of their outlook. This insight of Haggai, unfortunately, is not too clearly discernible by the short tracts now available in the Old Testament and it has not been given the recognition which its vital significance merits. But I am glad, in closing, to bring this to the attention of all who may read these sermons on Haggai.
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens