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Live in the light of that day



Main Scriptures
Series: Haggai
Book: Haggai
Scripture References



We have been studying through the book of Haggai. Written to a community who became distracted as they were trying to rebuild their lives and nation and faith after a time of national disaster. The clarion call from the book of Haggai is – put God first. Make the worship of God and the glory of God your top priority and the other things in life will fall into place.


·     Hag 1 – Distracted. Consider your priorities – Are you putting God first? Repent

·     Hag 2:1-9 – Discouraged  - Is it as nothing in your eyes? Persevere

·     Hag 2:10-19 – Deceived: Consider your motives - Are you doing this for the right reasons? Believe

·     Hag 2:20 – Downcast. Set your hope on Jesus. Hope in eternity.



 Read Hagg 2:20-end.


One of those text which you just scratch you head at. I have been scratching my head so much this week I am only glad I still have some hair left.


So this morning, we are going to have to put our thinking caps on and do some heavy hiking before we can get to the top of the mountain and enjoy the view.


Let's start with what is quite plain about this text

The day of the Lord (2:20-22)

God will come to judge the earth

●       vs 21 -Great turmoil on the earth

●       vs 22a -Foreign kings, ruling authorities will be brought into subjugation

●       vs 22b -the power of foreign kingdoms will be broken

●       vs 22c - their military might will be overthrown

●       vs 22d - God will cause them to fight against each other


Should recall imagery of 2:6 – spoken 2 months earlier

●       Great turmoil on earth and amongst the nations

●       vs 7 argued that desired of nations = wealth and riches, number of reasons, mainly that is makes more sense of vs 8 and of the immediate context in which concerns the rebuildng and refurnishing of the temple.

●       God will subdue the nations and use their wealth to reconstruct the temple and its latter glory will be greater than its former glory

●       Glory is greater not only materially, but because God's glory will fill the Temple once again

●       From this temple God will rule and establish peace over the nations.


That the picture we get when we put these 6 short verses together.

Its a picture which is painted in very much the same terms by nearly all the prophets.


Zech 14:12-17 – contemporary of Haggai


Almost every O.T. prophet paints this same general picture of the day of the Lord. A day when God will return to the earth to manifest His glory and power, to judge and subdue the nations and rule over them and thereby establish peace.


This return is often called the “day of the Lord” in Scripture

●       Isaiah 13:6 (ESV)6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; as destruction from the Almighty it will come!

●       Jeremiah 46:10 (ESV)10 That day is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, to avenge himself on his foes.

●       Joel 2:1 (ESV)1 Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near,

●       N.T continues the terminology - 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (ESV)
2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.


See here in vs 23 – refers to that day. This prophecy relates to that day when the Lord will return to earth to judge the nations


God is the supreme actor in all this – God will cause all this to happen

The signet ring(23)

God here makes a promise to Zerubabel that on that day He returns to set all things straight – he will make Zerubbabel like His signet ring.


The signet ring was the sign and seal of the kings authority. When the king sent orders for a certain action to be taken, he would seal those orders with his signet ring as a proof and evidence of his authority. As a verification that it was indeed him that had given those orders.

The king wore the signet ring around his neck or on his right hand and never parted with it. He always kept it close to his person as the symbol and seal of his rule.


So here – God is saying to Zerubbabel that in the day he returns to judge and to rule – Zerubabel will be to Him like a signet ring. In other words He will be close to the Lord, held dear by the Lord and he will be the sign and seal of his reign and extension of His reign.


There is strong covenant language here -

●       Take = adopt or specifically select you

●       Zerubbabel is emphatic in the Hebrew – It is you I will take

●       My servant = not just any servant, but my special servant, my favourite confident, the one who is always in the vascinity of the king and knows the mind of the king and carries out the wishes of the king.

●       Chosen you = elected you


Now the basic meaning is actually quite clear, but it leaves you scratching your head a little doesn't it?


So lets try demystify some of this – why, when, who…


Why -such strange language?

Firstly, why such veiled, figurative language?


●       Well, here you have Zerubbabel who is the governor of this small group of returning Jews who are still under the Persian king Darius.

●       There is this group of Samaritans who very discgruntled with your return and who are just looking for an opportunity to go running back to the king with an accusation of treason against the Persians' rule.

●       In that context you don't go around shouting from the roof tops – hey Zerubabel, God's going to destroy this foreign empire and rule through you...

●       These ancient kings didn't put up with any challenge to their throne. If  Zerubbabel is going to be the one who is at Gods side when He conquers and subdues the nations then you can bet Darius wouldn't waste any time in getting rid of Zerubbabel.

●       So I think Haggai is showing some diplomacy here lest he be misunderstood by their foreign rulers.


When is this going  to happen?

●       History tells us that nothing like this happened in the lifetime of Zerubbabel.

●       Some scholars who have a very low view of God and His Word would say that Haggai simply got it wrong. He expected Zerubabel to  become this great ruler and he never did. Well that calls God into account because the claim is that this is the Word of the Lord that came to and through Haggai. God doesn't make mistakes.

●       You can see that this prophesy is forward looking – “in that day” picking up on that prophetic theme of the day of the Lord. Using very much the same images as the other prophets in speaking of it as a day of great turmoil in which God would shake the heavens and the earth.

Prophetic foreshortening

●       It is important to recognize that as God describes through the prophets what He is going to do in the future, the emphasis is usually on what will happen and not on exactly when.

Illustration – stars in sky

●       Like when you look up at the sky and you see a canopy of star s but you cannot tell how far away they are or the relative distence between them. 2 stars can appear right next to each other when in fact they are thousands of light years apart.


●       The prophets describe the events that will take place but they don't describe the relative distence, the time gaps between them.

●       So it is with the events describing the day of the Lord. They tell us what will happen when the Lord returns, but not exactly when that will be or the relative time gaps between the various events.

●       So here as Haggai the prophets speaks, God Word could well have been fulfilled during the lifetime of Zerubbabel or not – God didn't reveal the exact timing.


1.  I think we can say for sure that the events described here were not fulfilled in the life of Zerubbabel.

2.  They were not fulfilled at the first coming of Christ. You can understand why the Jews had some problems accepting that Christ was the messiah – He was supposed to come and conquer and subdue the nations, not die on a cross!

3.  So I think these events are fulfilled in the events surrounding Christ's second coming. The day of our Lord.


Who is he speaking about?

●       Some would say that God is here addressing Zerubbabel, son of Shieltiel, so He means Zerubbabel, son of Shieltiel. Therefore when the Lord returns He will presumably raise Zerubbabel up and elevate him to a significant position in His kingdom.

○       Not inconceivable.

○       Christ promised that the disicples would sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel.

○       He taught in the parable of the wise and foolish steward that rulership is a reward for faithfulness on the earth.

○         The saints are said to reign with Christ so presumably we will all rule in some tangible way with Christ.

●       So its possible that Zerubabbel in person is being promised a significant place in God's future rule.


●       But I personally don't think that is what God intended here.


●       Unlike our Western, very individualistic culture - Ancient middle eastern culture didn't draw a clear line between the individual and their descendants.

●       Give example – Covenants with Abraham

●       Genesis 12:1-3 (ESV)
1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

When God said in you all families on earth would be blessed, didn't mean literally in Abraham, but through the descendant who would come from Abraham, through His lineage.


Second reason why I don't think we should take this as the literal historic Zerubbabel is because I think Haggai is addressing Zerubbabel in his position as governor rather than as an individual.

Illustration: Tito interest rates

●       Let's say I am a financial advisor and I predicted that next year Tito Mboweni is going to lower interest rates by half a percent

●       Let's say that interest rates are in fact lowered but not by Tito Mboweni because he resigned as governor of the reserve bank and someone else took his place.

●       I would still be right in my prediction because my statement had to do with Tito as governor, not Titto as an individual. What I meant was Tito, or whoever is holding his position in the reserve bank/


●       Likewise I think God is here addressing Jerubbabel not as  an individual, but as the governor of Judah, the recognized ruler over Israel at the time.

●       God is here affirming that the ruler over Israel will ultimately be the ruler over all nations. By God's power He would subdue the nations and bring them under His rule and thereby establish peace with God and man


What is the significance of this?

It goes back to the biblical covenants – these massive chords of promise which stretch throughout the Scriptures.


Do you remember what the Davidic covenant was all about?

After Israel had rejected God's rule over them and instead requested a  human king to rule over them – God did a wonderful thing.

He entered into a covenant promise with David (2 Sam 7) where He promised to  adopt David's Son Solomon as His own Son and thereby to bring this human king under His divine kingship. So the Davidic  covenant is God's promise to exercise His rule over Israel and all nations through a human ruler who would come from the line of  David.

From that point on the welfare of the nation was inextricably linked to the welfare and obedience of the earthly king.


What was the sign that the Davidic covenant was in place. I said that each of the covenants had a sign like covnant with Noah had the  rainbow, Abraham had circumcision – what was the sign of the covenant with David?



1 Kings 9:1-9.


So the kings disobeyed God and God did exactly what He said He would do, the people are exiled.

Now they return.

●       The land is not theirs, Persians – not being blessed by God, drought and famine and all kinds.

●       The Temple is in ruins

●       They have no king, Zerbubbabel is the closest thing – governor on behalf of Perisa.


Has God abandoned His covenant with Abraham and with David? Is God still going to provide a ruler from David's line and through that king to re-establish Israel in the land, to bless them to rule over them, to vindicate them and through them to rule over all nations?


This is where the prophecies of Haggai come in.

Rebuild the house – I still have great plans for it. When I return in power, my name and my glory will fill this house once again.

Zerubabel, the office you hold seems insignificant now, you're a king over nothing now. But when I return the ruler of Israel will be the ruler over all nations.


So essentially, God is here re-affirming His commitment to the Davidic covenant. He hasn't forgotten His promises

●       The sign of the covenant in the Temple will be re-established

●       The king of the covenant – a descendant from the line of David will rule on behalf of God over all nations. By addressing Zerubabbel He is affirming that this great ruler will not only come through the line of David, but the line of descendants coming from Zerubbabel.


This battling remnant could not have received a clearer more encouraging message that they were not wasting their time. God was not done with this people and this temple and this land.


So I think this message when rightly understood is fulfilled in the person of the messiah. One who would come in the line of David and Zerubbabel to rule over Israel and all nations from Jerusalem.


Many have recognized in this phrase – my servant Zerubabel, an allusion to the servant of the Lord, a title used in many places to refer to the messiah.


Isaiah 42:1 (ESV)1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.

Most Jewish commentators interpret this passage as a reference to the Messiah.


If this interpretation is right and Christ is the messiah, then Christ should be able to trace His human ancestory back to David and back to Zerubbebel


Overhead of genealogies of Luke and Matthew come together at David and Zerubabebel.

“Matthew starts with Abraham, while Luke begins with Adam. The lists are identical between Abraham and David, but differ radically from that point. Matthew has twenty-seven generations from David to Joseph, whereas Luke has forty-two, with almost no overlap between the names on the two lists.”⁠ (Wikipedia)


“Between Joseph and David, both genealogies come together only at Shealtiel and Zerubbabel, who lived just after the Babylonian captivity. None of the other names in this period are the same.” (bible.org)

Let me show you what that looks like. (table)

Let me explain how that works: If I trace my lineage through the line of my mother or my father, going to have very different names on that lineage, going off in very different directions, which is exactly what we see as Luke and Matthew trace the lineage of Jesus – and yet these two lineages cross- at Zerubbabel and Shieltiel.

Why? Because God made a promise, in fact a series of covenant promises which require that Jesus be the son of Adam, the son of Noah, the Son of Abraham, the Son of David, the Son of Zerubbabel – and he is the rightful descendent both through His fathers and mothers lines.


. All of the major covenants of the O.T (Noahic, Abrahamic, Davidic) find their fulfilment in Him.


So what?

O.K so

●       We understand that this prophesy is describing the day of the Lord

●       A day when the messiah will return in great glory and power and will bring about justice and rule over the nations as God's special representative and establish peace.

●       We know that Jesus Christ is that messiah since His human ancestory   places Him in the line of Zerubabel and David whose rule God promised to exalt.



So what does that mean for me, so what?


So what No. 1. Isn't God and His Word amazing!

Pass my business on to 1 of my children (have 7). Say Matthew and Matthew has 5 children, he passes it onto his Son, say David and David has 4 children. And passes onto one of them say Zerubbabel. In a space of 50 years my business would have been passed on through 3 generation to one of my great grandchildren. The chances of that being Zerubbabel would be less than 1 in 100. Here we have  the right to rule being passed on through 500 years of generations and  yet both Mary and Joseph trace their lineage through these 2 specific individuals. Do you realize how much God is controlling in order to get that right? Who marries who and what children they have for over 500 years in order to be true to this promise. The chances of this being realized is less than 1 in a trillion…. Nothing is impossible for God.


So what No. 2. God will do it

The basic exhortation of this book is – put God first. Do what He has commanded you to do.

The basic encouragment is – God is with you, God will do it. Here again the book closes with a grand picture of what great things God is going to do.

What seems impossible to them – is not impossible because god will do it.

What seems in significant to them  - is not insignificant because God is doing it.


When God calls us to proclaim the gospel and build His church – it is not impossible and it is not insignificant – God is with us and He will do it.


So what No 3. - Live in the light of eternity.

God exhorts them to get busy doing what He commanded them to do and then offers them 3 encouragements to persevere. 1 is material and temporal – I will bless you as you obey.

2 have to do with the ultimate signficance of their work.


God keeps raising their eyes off the dusty bricks and sand around them and saying look up, look ahead to what I am going to do and to the ultimate signficance of what you are doing here.


This is so, so important for us to get.

The N.T does exactly the same thing – almost every book of the N.T tries to raise our eyes off the here and now and refocus us on eternity – so its obviously essential to correctly understanding and persevering in the work God has given us to do.


The reason why we so often get distracted here with our own things, with petty things, with meaningless things which simply waste our time and waste our lives. ... Is because we don't think enough about the day Christ returns.


We will never do the work of God or persevere in it if eyes are not fixed on eternity. On the return of Christ, on the day of the Lord.



So much of what seems insignficant here – will be very significant in that day and so much of what seems so signficiant here will be insignificant in that day.




·    Call to put God first because the worship of God is what we were created and called for.

·    Exhortation to persevere because God is with you and what you are doing is significant to Him

·    Consider your motives, are you working for the right reasons.

·    Then it closes with this encouragement – to lift up your eyes and see Jesus your messiah and king is coming and He will rule the nations and make everything that is wrong right and bring all of God’s promises to their fulfilment.

·    It starts with the call to turn from selfishness and sin and it ends with a call to look to Jesus…Repentance in the N.T is turning from sin to Jesus and that is exactly what this book encourages us to do.


“Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live forever, and this must be true or false. Now there are a good many things which would not be worth bothering about if I were going to live only seventy years, but which I had better bother about very seriously if I am going to live for ever.” C S Lewis