'The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,' says the LORD of hosts, 'and in this place I will give peace,' declares the LORD of hosts."Haggai 2:9(NASB)
Haggai was a post-exile returnee to the land of Israel whose main ministry was to encourage the people to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem and to let them know that God was with them and would help them. He called the people to 'consider your ways' and to 'be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.'
Israel's covenant with the Lord and the blessings He promised His people, depended upon them fulfilling the requirements of the Mosaic Law, which is why his first prophecy rebukes the people for neglecting the rebuilding of the House of God. Without the Temple, the priests could not fulfil their duties and the sacrificial offerings to the Lord could not be reinstated.
Zerubbabel the governor of Judah, and Joshua the high priest, responded speedily to Haggai's call to rebuild, and within twenty-three days the construction work was underway. This prompted Haggai's second prophecy, that the glory of the future Temple would surpass that of the previous one: "'The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,' says the LORD of hosts, 'and in this place I will give peace,' declares the LORD of hosts."
Haggai's second prophecy began with the Lord asking the returning remnant three questions. 1) Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? 2) How do you see it now? 3) Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison?
The book of Ezra gives the answers. The priests, Levites, tribal heads, and older men, who had seen the grandeur of the former structure and remembered the majestic glory of Solomon's Temple WEPT, because the foundations of this second Temple were so much smaller. It was to be a less ornate structure and less substantial than the one destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, and many wept aloud.
Despite their distress, Haggai was able to tell these weeping elders a most astonishing truth: "The Lord of hosts declares that the latter glory of this house will be greater than the former, and in this place I will give peace."
Even though the rebuilt Temple would be less magnificent than its earlier counterpart, God promised that the 'final glory of the God's House' would eclipse its former glory, which must have seemed impossible to those lamenting elders. Not only was its glory to outstrip the former Temple, but the Lord also promised to bring peace to the Temple court and the city of Jerusalem.
The full and final fulfilment of this magnificent prophecy is still future, for although the glory of the Lord entered the Temple when Jesus Himself visited, during His first advent, lasting peace in the holy city will only happen when the Prince of Peace returns in the clouds of glory and sets His feet on the mount of Olives, to bring in His Millennial Kingdom of peace and prosperity.
As members of the Church, we are watching and waiting for Christ to return in the air to take His redeemed saints to heaven which will happen at least seven years before He breaks through the clouds, riding a white horse, with his vestments dripping with the blood of His defeated enemies. On that day, every eye will see Him and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Today, the members of Christ's Body are a spiritual Temple whom the Lord is using to forward His redemptive plans and purposes. We are reminded by Paul that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in us. The Church today is the Temple of God, made from living stone, and the Spirit of God indwells our mortal bodies. We have this treasure in clay vessels, so that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves.
However, a day is coming when Christ will return in power and great glory and enter the future, Millennial Temple, when the latter glory of God's house will be greater than the former, there will peace on earth, and goodwill to all men.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You are in control of history and that the day is coming when Christ will return to earth in power and great glory to set up His kingdom, rebuild His Temple in Jerusalem, and bring peace and prosperity to all. Thank You that during this Church age, while Israel has been set aside for a season, You are using the Church as a living Temple and have commissioned the Body of Christ to be Your ministers of reconciliation. Thank You that Your plan of redemption continues to unfold, and that the day is coming when Christ will rule and reign in the Holy City of Jerusalem, and the earth will be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea. Praise Your holy name! AMEN.