This sermon is number 2 in series of 4
"The Best Is Yet To Be"
by David Legge | Copyright © 1999 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Let me give you a warm welcome to our Bible study here in the Iron Hall Assembly. We're very glad to see you this evening and we trust that as we meet around God's word, and see what this little book that we've been studying over the past few weeks, the book of Haggai, has to say to us - not only individually, but as a nation and as a church - that we are blessed in the presence of God as we hear from His voice.
The book of Haggai, Haggai and chapter 2, and we're reading from verse 1. You'll remember that last Monday evening we dealt with the whole of chapter 1, right down to verse 15. And just to recap for a moment, you saw that these children of Judah had come out of captivity, from seventy years captivity in Babylon, they'd been given their freedom. But as they came out they were discouraged, they had been seventy years without a temple. They've come out and the Emperor, Cyrus of Medo-Persia, that had brought them out of Babylon and allowed them to go back to their home of Israel, he now permitted by an edict that they were now allowed to rebuild their own temple. You remember that they began to rebuild, they had the foundations of the temple built and the Samaritans came along - you can read about it in Ezra, we'll look at it in a few moments later - and the Samaritans came along and said, 'You've no right to build this temple', and one of the Samaritans wrote a letter to King Cyrus to discourage this. And then eventually Darius came into power, Darius the first, and when the Samaritans were creating a furore about these Judeans building the temple again, he went back to look in all the legislation of the government and he found there that, yes, there was an agreement, for Cyrus said that they could build the temple again. But what happened was that the Judeans were so discouraged that after those sixteen years, even though they were allowed to rebuild, they hadn't got the guts to do it.
And now we are in chapter 2 of the book of Haggai - and there are many commands that were given by Haggai to this discouraged people, you remember the very famous one that he repeated three times over in chapter 1, 'Consider your ways! Consider your ways! Consider your ways!'. And we left off in verse 14 and 15 where we see the work of the Holy Ghost beginning to happen: 'And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech'. And when the leaders were stirred, the people began to be stirred. And as we enter into chapter 2 and verse 1, we see what began to happen: "In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the Lord by the prophet Haggai, saying, Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do ye see it now? Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts: According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with the glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts".
If the first sermon that we were given by Haggai - and you remember that I told you last Monday evening that this book of two chapters is made up of four sermons, that were given by Haggai. The first sermon we thought about last week, the second sermon we will think about this week, and the next two sermons were both given - you remember - on the same day. And if the first sermon that we thought about last Monday evening was a message of rebuke, this second sermon - chapter 2 verses 1 to 9 - is a message of encouragement. Haggai's first message, as we read in verse 14, it stirred the whole nation of Judah. It started at the top of the leadership and then it worked down right to the very people - and it stirred them out of their idleness. We see it in chapter 1 and verse 14, it motivated them out of their lethargy, their laziness, to get up and to start building the temple again. And in chapter 2 we can almost hear the sound of the workmen beginning to rebuild, after sixty years without a temple they begin to clean away all the rubble, they begin to build on the foundations that were laid sixteen years before this day in Jerusalem.
So many discouragements they had, so many setbacks they were given, but at last they're ready - they have heard the word of God, the word of God has touched their hearts, the word of God has breathed new life into their discouraged spirits, and they're ready with their hammers and their chisels - ready to build the temple again. But...believe it or not there's another problem. Because less than a month after the work had begun on the temple once more, it was interrupted again - not by enemies, not by a false religion but, believe it or not, by three religious festivals in the land of Israel's calendar. You see, it says in verse 1 that the date of this message - the second sermon of Haggai - it was given in the seventh month which is the month of Tishri, our months of September and October. You see, the Feast of Trumpets was on the first day of the month of Tishri, on the tenth day of the month of Tishri was the day of atonement, on the fifteenth day of the month right through to the twenty-first day of the month there was the Feast of Tabernacles. And just as the children of Judah were ready - they'd got over the discouragements of the Samaritans around them, they'd got over the discouragements of the memories of their seventy years in captivity, perhaps they'd got over, you remember we thought about it last week, about their misconceptions of Biblical prophecy, they thought that it wasn't in God's calendar that they would be able to build the temple, but they got over all of that - and they're ready to build, they're raring to go and all of a sudden these festivals interrupt their work.
Haggai knew that another - even if it was only one more interruption - would totally discourage the people. He knew, like you know, that when you're in the Christian life and sometimes things are going well, and you begin to get reading your Bible well and studying it and getting into it, you're maybe beginning to get a hold on prayer, things are starting to go well, you're going to the meetings, and all of a sudden - bang! A discouragement comes across your path and you get disheartened. Now Haggai knew that this people of Judah had been up against a lot. They had been discouraged now for 86 years since the day that they had gone into captivity and because of that on this day, on the last day of the feast, Haggai comes - he steps in with a great message of encouragement for God's people, right from the Lord. It's the final day of the Feast of Tabernacles, in our calendar it's the 17th of October 520BC - and just as we saw last week that the context and the background of the message of chapter 1 was so important, because you remember he had a captive audience because the people were thinking about the temple that they had lost in the past, before the captivity - and in the same way, the context and the backdrop for this message is so relevant, and comes just at the right time.
In Leviticus chapter 23 verses 34 to 44, we have an account of what the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Feast of Booths, really is. It's also called, within the scriptures, the Feast of Ingathering. What it was, was the final religious celebration on Israel's religious calendar. They commemorated first of all the end of the autumn harvest, secondly they commemorated the ingathering of all the crops, thirdly it was a remembrance that, for the forty years that the children of Israel were in the wilderness, that God looked after them and took care of them when they lived in the tents.
Let me share with you for a few moments, just to give you an idea of what they did on this day, some of the rituals of the Feast of Booths. For seven days the people lived in little booths, little tents constructed from palms trees and willows and leaf trees and branches, and they were all decorated with beautiful fruit from the harvest. But every day of those seven days there was a procession that went to the Gihon Spring, where the priest would fill the golden pitcher with water. He would return to God's temple and then he would pour that water upon the altar - and for the Judeans this was a sign, it was an object lesson, to tell them to remember that when they were in the wilderness for forty years, God in His supernatural way provided water for them. The festival ended and the people all gathered together and had a great religious, festive celebration, a great time of happiness, a great time of rejoicing in God and what God had done. But...this day, this day that Haggai gave this message, on the 17th of October 520BC, it was still the last day of this feast. They still did the same things, they went to the Gihon River, they did the same ritual of pouring the pitcher out on the altar and they came together - but there was no rejoicing. The joy was missing, because they had no temple to go to. It was not a joyful festivity, their crops at this time were actually destroyed, they had nothing to celebrate from God where that was concerned. Their temple wasn't completed and all that they could do on this occasion - some of them could remember when they were in captivity - but there was others that were older, and could remember when they came to Solomon's Temple, where there was great joy, great festivities, and they had, as they could see, a place where they could come to worship God and to seek His face.
Can I ask you this evening - are you a discouraged Christian? Are you like these Judeans? They were discouraged, every time they felt they were getting somewhere, whether it was with their nation, or with their God, or with their temple - something came along their path to thwart it. Do you no longer have joy in our celebrations? When you come to the meetings, when you come to the prayer meeting - or when you absent yourself from the prayer meeting - or you come to the Lord's Table, has that joy, has that celebration, has that rejoicing gone out, because of disappointments and discouragements in your life? Or is it, like these Judeans that they look back into their history, and some of them could look back 86 years to when they were taken into captivity, but at that moment they had a glorious temple, but now they had no temple. And they were looking back to the good old days when all the nations came together to worship God in the beautiful place, and God's glory was there, and there was real blessing, there was real salvation, there was real consecration, there was a revival perhaps. Can you remember great days - can you? Can you remember the good old days? I'm sure that there are some here and they can remember great days, great days of blessing. But when we look at a day in which we live today, and we look back at those days - we can do nothing but be discouraged.
Haggai knew that this people was thirsty, this people was hungry, this people was weary in the desert looking for satisfaction because of all their disappointments - and so he comes, and like the pouring of the water upon the altar in the temple, he brings this message to the people that don't have a temple. But it's like fresh water to their souls, and the first thing he does is found in our first point. He talks to them about a backward look, found in verses 1 to 3. Verses 1 and verse 2 are the introduction and then, in verse 3, he says this: 'Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do ye see it now? Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?'.
You see, this message that Haggai was bringing here, the first point of his message was this: you have a backward look. You're looking to God's old temple. God's leadership - Zerubbabel, Joshua - all the people were living in difficult days, but they were all remembering the good old days, they were all harping back, like many people do today and sometimes I can't blame them! The great crusades, the great evangelists, the great number of people that were being converted, the great standards that the church had.
They were looking back, if you turn with me to the book of Ezra chapter 3 - and you'll remember, I told you last week, that to get the historical background of the book of Haggai you need to read the book of Ezra. Ezra chapter 3 and verse 12, and Ezra tells us who some of the people were that came out of the seventy years captivity in Babylon. And in verse 12 of chapter 3 of Ezra he says this: 'But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy'. Ezra says that there were two types of people that came out the captivity in Babylon. And there are those two types of people that - as Haggai is delivering this message in chapter 2 - the people who are listening, there are two types of them. There are the young people who can't remember the old days of the old temple, and then there are the older people who can remember, as Ezra says, this first house in all its glory - but note the difference. That the old people that can remember the first house in all its glory are weeping and crying aloud, but the young people are singing for joy. Why is that? You see, immediately, when the old people came out of captivity in Babylon for seventy years, they received the edict of King Cyrus to rebuild the temple and their hopes were built up. They were encouraged and immediately they could remember Solomon's Temple, and they envisaged the new temple as possessing all the glories that they had seen in Solomon's. But when the building started, and when brick was put upon brick, and when all the interior things were put into the temple and it was beginning to take form they started to see, to their amazement and to their disappointment, that this new temple was absolutely nothing compared to Solomon's because they could remember. And therefore Haggai, Haggai knew, he anticipated their disappointment and he asked them three questions in verse three, look down at it. He says first of all to them: 'Who is left among you that saw this house in its first glory?'. Think about it, many of the old folk - the old men and old women that were standing around listening to Haggai - many of them had stood and witnessed the beautiful temple of Solomon. What was it like? Well it was twice the size of the tabernacle. Imagine this, it helps to close your eyes and try to think about it: ninety feet long, thirty feet wide, forty five feet high, striking in all its beauty because of the white limestone it was built with, because of the cedar that were upon the walls, because of the gold exterior. The entire interior of the temple was covered with cedar walls, the floorboards were pine, all of it was overlaid in gold. If you had went into the Holy Place, it was sixty feet long, it was decorated on the walls with carved gourds, and cherubim, and palm trees, and carved open flowers. There were gold chains that covered across the doors leading from the Holy Place to the Holy of Holies - and the Holy Place contained ten golden lamp stands, and ten golden tables of showbread. And, if you had gone out of the outer court of the temple into the Holiest Place and into the Holy of Holies - think of this! - a thirty foot cube, all overlaid with gold, two massive cherubim made of olive wood, carved in gold extended the length of the whole room, whose wings outstretched itself, whose tips touched one another. The walls of the temple, decorated with beautiful carvings - years ago someone estimated, now it was years ago, the expense of just the Holiest of all, just that one thirty foot room, and they said it came to twenty million dollars!
Put yourself in these peoples shoes, this is what they could remember! This great sight, this glorious temple in all of its beauty, but as far as they could see - even though they thought God was working in the building of this new temple - this new temple faded into insignificance in comparison with the old one.
There were five differences between the old and the new. This new temple, Zerubbabel's temple, didn't have the ark of the covenant. Zerubbabel's temple didn't have the holy fire, Zerubbabel's temple didn't have the Shekinah, the light, glory manifest of God. Fourthly it didn't have the spirit of prophecy, in other words, the Holy Spirit. And fifthly it didn't have the urim and the thummim - the guidance of God Himself. And these old men and these old women knew it, and as they looked upon it they were discouraged and Haggai knew it. That's why he asked them: 'Can any of you, any left among you that saw it?', and then secondly he asked them in verse 3: 'And how do you see it now?'.
'Remember the old temple? Well you can remember it - now tell me, tell me how you see the new temple'. Of course you know their answer, they didn't need to answer it, they saw it as obviously inferior to the old temple. So thirdly he asks the question in verse 3: 'Is it not in your eyes in comparison with it as nothing?'. And if you could hear the large crowd answer him, they would all shout: 'Yes! It's nothing! Expect us to settle for this? We've known better than this from God, we've better memories than this from God, do you expect us to take the second best in comparison?'. Do you feel like that?
I address the older folk - and I'll not define that! But the older folk this evening, I know there's people in our gathering here and they can remember W.P. Nicholson. You can remember great days can't you? And I'm sure it is such a discouragement to your heart to see the days in which we live, to see the disappointments, the discouragements, how the work of God to the human, fleshly eyes seems not to be going forward - nothing seems to be happening in the same ways. Can I say this? Memories can be encouraging, but they can also be discouraging. You see, these children dwelt needlessly on past blessings. Can I say this? That this was Satan's subtle plan, this was his work - why? Because it seemed right for the Judeans to make much of the glorious past and the glorious temple, but it was obvious that Satan wanted to minimize and to make nothing of the wonderful work of revival that was beginning to happen in the peoples lives. Do you know what happened? In verse 14 of chapter 1, Satan saw that the people were beginning to be stirred, so he said: 'Ah! Remember the old days? You'll never have days like that again. Those days will never come back and if you're hoping for them, and if a preacher's telling you it's possible, forget about it! Those days are gone long ago!' - and he's trying to minimize, and he's trying to blow out, to extinguish the flame of God, no matter how small it was, that was beginning to be lit in the hearts of His own children.
Let me say this: if God is working, no matter in how small a way, it cannot be inferior. It's either God working, or God not working! But if it's God working, no matter how small it is, we cannot look down on it because it's God! It is the divine plan, it's from the divine sovereign will, and we must never despise the day of small things. The fact was, that this was God's will, this was not a licence for them to sit back, but can you not see what I'm saying? God was going to bring these good days back, but they wanted it 'Bang!' like this - in a moment - they couldn't see that there was a progression, that things had to be done, that this fire of life within them had to come gradually and slowly, and God by His Spirit was gradually blowing His wind upon that little ember of a flame in their heart and their soul. But all they could think of was thinking back, 'It's not like the old days!'.
My friend, if you get stuck in that gear you're in trouble. The old days were great, and no-one reads about them more than me - but the old days aren't coming back again I'm afraid. The old days are gone, you can't bring history back, but what you can do is bring God back. They looked back and all they could see was the old temple, but I want you to see that God through Haggai got them to look up! An upward look, verses 4 to 5: 'Yet now', God says, 'be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts: According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you' - an upward look. What was God saying? God was saying, 'My presence, children, and My promise, children, are with you'. What was He telling them to do? He was saying, 'My children, finish the task, children be encouraged'. Verse 4, what does He say? 'Be strong', they needed courage.
Remember the opposition that they faced in the past from the Samaritans? Those men - you can read about it when you go home, in Ezra chapter 5 and verse 3 - there were two men especially from the Samaritans that wrote a letter to King Darius, telling King Darius, that the Jews had no right to build a temple. Oh, they got so down, they got so discouraged, they thought, 'Well, I'll forget about that, it's not worth the bother!'. Do you feel like that sometimes? It could be the world, it could be Christians, it could be opposition within the assembly to you doing the work that you feel God is calling you to do. And all it takes is for one little bit of opposition, maybe from someone who can remember all the old times and you say, 'Well, that's the end of that. It's not worth it, it's not worth the hassle, it's not worth the cost!' - and these people were so discouraged. But then what happened was, Darius looked into the records of the nation, he searched in the archives and he found the documentation of how Cyrus had told them that they were permitted to rebuild the temple. But they couldn't complete the task if they were going to be backward looking.
My friend, encourage yourself in the past - but for goodness sake, don't get anchored in it! There's a world today that is a generation, that is your generation, that is my generation, and they're going to hell as much as W.P. Nicholson's generation! And we thank God for Nicholson, but let me tell you this: he's six foot under now, and he's in glory, and he's not going to save our generation. Luther'll not do it, and Calvin'll not do it, and Moody'll not do it - we have to do it! And are we doing it? Oh, we must have an upward look and we cannot be discouraged in the work of the Lord, we must be encouraged. We must look upward, we must see what God has said to them, 'Be strong and work' - the two come together. Don't be discouraged and work, because you're wasting your time. Be strong and work, be encouraged in Me and work.
Do you remember when Moses had finished his work, when he had done all that God had told him and planned for him to do, and it was now time to pass on the buck to Joshua - imagine what he felt like. Maybe what I felt like when I came here! The shoes that you were trying to fill - how can I be like Moses? Moses! The man that brought Thy children out of captivity in Egypt! The man of miracles, the man that saw God up on the mount - how can I be like him? But what did God say to him? What God said to Haggai, what God said to the people - and what God says to you - 'Be strong and of a good courage, for what made Moses great will make you great Joshua, and will make Haggai great and will make us great and it is this: for I the Lord God am with thee'. These were only men brethren! Don't you ever forget that! They were men and women like you and me, and the only thing that made them great was that they knew their God, and they knew that their God was with them. Three times God said to Joshua - maybe he needed to hear it three times - 'I am with you, I am with you, I am with you', and He says it here in verse 4. 'Haggai, I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts' - and the Lord of Hosts is a title for God, and it means this: 'the Lord of armies'. The Lord of armies is with us! The God of war is our strength!
God's presence, but also there was God's promise. Because He talks about the covenant that He made with them in verse 4, when they came out of Egypt, that in the same way He delivered them then - and mind you they were not worthy of it. Do you remember all the murmuring, all the crying and they were in the wilderness and they were saying, 'I wish, Moses, you'd never took us out of Egypt'. But they were God's people, because God had sworn that He would save them. And we not only have God's presence for the time that we need encouragement and we need His presence, but even when we feel angry against God - praise God! - we've got His promise that He's with us, no matter what!
Do you remember the church in Philadelphia in the book of Revelation? They're described as having a little strength - a little strength. What does the Lord say? That His word, and His name, were with them and abided with them. He was the holy and the true One, right in their midst as He is in our midst today. And where two, or three are gathered together, He is here. Oh, what a blessed thought! Now let me say this, Christian: if you are indwelt with the Holy Spirit of God, filled with the Holy Spirit - and I wonder how many are, I wonder if I am - that experience whereby we cry unto God for the fullness of God's Spirit within us, if we are surrendered in all and yielded to God, you can be assured that no matter what you go through, no matter where God takes you, that you have God's presence and God's power - and it will perform.
These poor people looked backward and - praise God - God asked them to look upward, and He asks us to look upward this evening, to His presence and His promise. But the best is yet to be, because He asks them to look forward - verses 6 to 9 to God's prophecies: 'For thus saith the Lord of hosts' - the Lord, the God of Armies - 'Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with the glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts'.
Now I want you to be patient with me, because I want you to look at a whole lot of passages of scripture now and you're going to be flicking through - but that's good, it'll keep you awake! Verse 4, we saw that he was told to be strong because there was a promise, but there was a prospect - not just of God's presence, 'I am with you' - but there was a future promise of something, a hope that purified within him, that he had to look forward to and that he could build his faith upon. It's not blind faith, we build our faith upon God's promises and he says in verse 6: 'For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens' - when? In a little while. Now that phrase, 'in a little while', does not mean immediate, it doesn't mean right away, but what it does mean is: imminent. Not immediate, but imminent - in other words, it could happen at any time. Whatever Haggai's talking about, - and he does say it's the shaking of the earth, and everything that's in the earth, and the heavens - that could happen in our time and at any time!
Now what is this shaking that is talked about here? Some scholars look back to verse 5 and believe it was when God delivered the people from the land of Egypt and brought them to the promised land. But that's not what I believe it is. Some look back to Darius, when Darius made that edict that the people were allowed to begin their temple again, and they look to Ezra chapter 6 where it says that he gave permission and he told the Samaritans they weren't to discourage or to lay a hand on the people - that's not what I believe it is. Thirdly some scholars believe it's when God brought judgement upon the Persians, and then upon the Greeks, and then eventually upon the Romans, where the Lord was at the time when He was upon the earth, the empire that ruled - but that's not what I think it is. Indeed the context of this passage of Scripture is futuristic. It refers to something that will come in our future!
Turn with me to Zechariah chapter 14, Zechariah chapter 14 - quickly please. Zechariah 14 and verses 4 and 5, and speaking of the Messiah, speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in His first coming, but in His second coming - Zechariah says: 'And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee'. You could turn to Matthew chapter 24 and read it again, and if we turn to Revelation and chapter 16 you can read about there. Revelation 16, I'll just read it for you, save you turning to it for time. Verse 18 and verse 20: 'And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found'. And there is a day coming, the book of Daniel says in chapter 2, when a rock will be cut out, and God will throw that rock, which is Christ Jesus, to smash all the Gentile empires and kings that rule on the earth - and Jesus Christ shall reign over all! And where the Rock Christ Jesus will smash, none shall stand but He. And in Haggai chapter 2 and verse 6, we read these words: 'Yet once a little while', imminently, 'I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land' - and when we turn to Hebrews chapter 12, you don't need to turn to it, but the writer there actually uses that verse in Haggai chapter 2 and verse 6. In chapter 12 of Hebrews verse 26 we read this: 'Whose voice then shook' - speaking of when the Lord returns - 'shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain'. And in the book of 2 Peter we read about it, that not just when the Lord returns to the Mount of Olives will He shake the earth, but after the millennial reign and after the temple is set up again - the earth will shake once more, the earth and the heavens and everything will be in a ball of fire!
My unsaved friend this evening, my backslidden friend tonight, you need to flee from the wrath to come. You must turn to Christ, or you will never escape this awful dread that will be upon the earth imminently - in other words we do not know when it will be - but praise God, look at the hope in verse 7 for the believer: '...and I will shake all nations, but the desire of all nations shall come'! What is the desire of all nations? Some people believe this verse refers to the millennial temple that we read about in Ezekiel chapter 40 to 48, and it may have an inference to that, because of the verse after it talking about silver being God's and gold being God's. But do you know what I believe this verse means? What is the desire of all nations? Isaiah chapter 2 tells us that the desire of all nations is universal peace, we know about that don't we? Isaiah tells us again, in chapter 11 and verse 4, that the desire of all the world is just government. Isaiah also tells us, and the writer to the Hebrews in chapter 8 and verse 11 tells us, that the desire of all the world - whether they realize it or not - is the knowledge of the true God. They don't want our God, because they don't believe He's the true God! Oh, and they desire God, they just don't know it - because they fill their desire with all the sin, all that they can run after, all the false gods, there is an emptiness within their soul that comes from their father Adam, and they will fill it up with anything and everything but God! But there is a day coming, when the desire of all the nations shall come, and Messiah will come to His temple, and Messiah will inhabit the earth, and the glory that is talked about in verse 9, that great Shekinah glory, will fill God's temple, and God's world - and all the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God. What a day that will be!
But do you know something? This prophecy has already been fulfilled in measure, because in verse 9 we read that the glory of the latter house shall be greater than that of the former, in other words this house that was being built at this time - Zerubbabel's temple - he says even though it's not dripping with gold like Solomon's temple, God says this temple's going to have more glory than Solomon's. Now what did He mean? He was talking about Zerubbabel's temple, He wasn't referring to the millennial temple, but He had to be talking about the one here He was addressing. Did you know that Herod's temple was a refurbishment of Zerubbabel's temple? And in Luke chapter 2 we read the story where our blessed Lord Jesus Christ in the form of a babe, was taken into that temple, and that temple saw the desire of all nations as a baby! And Christ came to it - did He not say that He was a greater than Solomon? And He is the greatness of the millennial temple, because He will fill it with all His glory, and God says that He will bring that peace to all nations that will flow like a river into the whole earth from Jerusalem, and from Christ and His temple.
Did the Lord not say that He was the desire of all nations, when He spoke in John chapter 7 and verse 37 and 38 when he said, 'In the last day' - and incidentally He said it on the day of the feast of tabernacles, 'in the last day, that great day of the feast', the same day, 'Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink'.
Friends this evening can you see those Judeans? Running down to the Gihon River, filling that canteen, that holy canteen, with water - bringing it back to the altar and pouring it on, and Jesus on the same day years later would say: 'I am that living water, drink of Me and you will never thirst again'.
Can I say this in closing? We Christians are a temple - and God no longer lives or dwells in temples made with hands, He doesn't dwell in the Iron Hall, He dwells in you and He dwells in me if we're saved. But as we look at this passage of Scripture there's three things I want to ask you in closing that is our duty, our duty as Christians and as the temple of the Holy Spirit that God has made: is God manifesting His body? Could 'Ichabod' be written upon our lives, that the glory has departed? You can read these when you go home, we haven't time, but in 1 Corinthians 6 verses 15 to 20, Paul encourages us to take away, like these Judeans, the rubble, the rubble away from the foundations of the temple, the rubble of sin, the debris that's in our lives, clear it all away! And secondly Paul, in Romans 8:29, says that each of us are a stone in the building, we're so important, but we will only fit into the building if we're continually being shaped into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ. And thirdly, in 1 Corinthians 3, 11 to 12, Paul says again that everything in that building - and that means everything in your life believer - must be build upon the foundation of Christ Jesus. My question, as I finish, is this: believer, Iron Hall assembly, how's our building going? May God bless His word to our hearts.
Our Father in heaven, we realize that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Lord help us not to be backward, and help us always to look upward, and Lord help us to look forward - that the best is yet to be. And Lord that little verse grips us when it says that the glory of the former house will not be seen in the light of the glory of the latter house. And we think of this house, even here, dear God, the glory that it has had in the past. But Lord we would claim that verse and ask Thee to apply it to us, that the best would be yet. And Lord what you are going to do in this place in the future may far surpass what we thank Thee for doing in the past. We thank Thee Lord that our hope is in God, and we ask that His blessing and His presence, as we've been thinking about, may go with us now and ever more. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the second tape in his Haggai series, titled "The Best Is Yet To Be" - Transcribed by Judith Watkins, Preach The Word.
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