In October of 520 B.C., about sixty-six years after the original temple was destroyed, the Lord speaks to Haggai, telling him to encourage Zerubbabel the governor of Judah and Joshua the high priest to continue the rebuilding of the temple – “‘Yet now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ says the Lord; ‘and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’”
The people were comparing the new temple with the splendor of the old temple. The Lord says, “The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former.” And the glory will be greater, for Jesus Christ the Son of God will one day preach in this new temple. The Lord promises that “in this place I will give peace.” There will be no greater peace than the peace available through a relationship with Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who restores us to His Father and secures our eternal destiny.
God calls the people to consider their current situation since they resumed rebuilding the temple. Although it has been a rough road, the Lord says, “But from this day I will bless you.” The Lord promises an abundant harvest for His people who are now walking in obedience.
The Lord tells Zerubbabel, “I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant… and I will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you.” As a descendant of the last legitimate king of Judah, Jehoiachin, Zerubbabel is chosen by God to bring forth the Messiah through his lineage.
We also hear from Zechariah, a priest who returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel. He works alongside Haggai, Zerubbabel, and Ezra, encouraging the people to complete the rebuilding and warning them of the consequences for neglecting the work of the Lord. Zechariah urges the people to repent and draw near to the Lord and the Lord will draw near to them.
We read seven of eight visions that God gave Zechariah in one night. The visions reveal God’s plans for Jerusalem, the temple, and the coming Messiah:
- The horseman among the myrtle trees – The horseman explains that the Lord sent them to walk to and fro throughout the earth, and they have found peace. The Lord promises to restore Jerusalem – “My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; the Lord will again comfort Zion, and will again choose Jerusalem.”
- The four horns and four craftsmen – The horns represent the four kingdoms that opposed Israel: Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, and Medo-Persia. The craftsmen are coming to “cast out the horns of the nations that lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it”, revealing that the Lord will defeat the enemies of Israel.
- The surveyor – Zechariah sees a man with a measuring line who tells him he is going to measure the city of Jerusalem. The Lord promises that Jerusalem will be revived – “‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it. For I,’ says the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’”
- Cleansing for the High Priest – Joshua, the high priest, is standing before the Angel of the Lord in filthy clothes and Satan is there to oppose him. The Lord rebukes Satan and says to Joshua, “See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes… For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH. For behold, the stone that I have laid before Joshua: upon the stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave its inscription,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘And I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.’” This vision is symbolic of Israel being restored as a nation and predicts the arrival of the coming Messiah. Jesus Christ is the ultimate High Priest who is coming to die for us so that we too will be cleansed from our sins and washed white as snow before the Lord.
- The lampstand and two olive trees – The olive trees are symbolic of Zerubbabel the governor of Judah and Joshua the high priest; and the lampstand represents the temple of the Lord whose foundation is being laid once again by the people of God.
- A flying scroll – The scroll flying over the earth represents God’s judgment upon the unrepentant who walk in defiance to the Lord.
- A woman in a basket – A woman named Wickedness is sitting in a basket. The basket is sealed and two women carry the basket off to Babylon where the wickedness would be released and eventually destroyed. As illustrated in this vision, the Lord is restoring and cleansing His people from idolatry and evil so that they may faithfully serve Him. Through the cleansing by the blood of Jesus, our wickedness is also taken away; so when the Lord looks at those who have trusted in Christ as their Savior, He doesn’t see our righteousness but the righteousness of His Son Jesus. John, a disciple of Jesus, will have a similar vision during the End Time Era where the Religious Babylon, which represents all worldly and satanic idolatry, will be destroyed (Revelation 17).
Tomorrow another attempt is made to stop the rebuilding. However, no matter what man does, nothing can stop the plans and purposes of the Lord. Keep reading. (Haggai 2:1-9, Zechariah 1:1-6, Haggai 2:10-19, Ezra 5:2, Haggai 2:20-23, Zechariah 1:7-5:11)