|Faith Strengthened||Chapter 34||Part 1|
Haggai 2:9, "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." Christians have raised the question, in what did the glory of latter house consist, seeing that the Jews, during the time of the first Temple, were independent, and during that of the second Temple they were vassals of the Persians, Syrians, and Romans, the last of whom ultimately destroyed the temple and banished the Jews. They therefore interpret it to signify that the existence of Jesus, during the time of the second Temple, constituted its glory.
Refutation. -- -- The word כָּבוֹד (glory) has two significations. In the first place, it means worldly distinction and opulence. In this meaning, we find it in Genesis 31:1: "and from what belongeth unto our Father, he has gotten all this הַכָּבוֹד (wealth)." The same is meant to Proverbs 3:16, "in his left hand are riches and glory." In the second sense, כָּבוֹד means the real or spiritual distinction. For instance, in 1 Samuel 4:21, we have "the glory hath departed from Israel." See also Psalm 85:9, "that glory may dwell in our land"; and Zechariah 2:5, "and for glory I shall be in the midst of her." Some commentators have assigned the second sense to the passage under consideration, and they say that the superior glory of the second Temple consisted in the entire absence of idolatry; some have said that the word כָּבוֹד relates to the first or fictitious kind of glory, because Herod is said to have decorated the temple in the most gorgeous style. But such an interpretation is set aside by the non-fulfillment of Haggai’s prophecy (chapter 2:9), "And in that place will I give peace, saith the Lord of Hosts." For during the existence of the second Temple no peace reigned in the land; but according to Daniel, "the street and the entrenchment were to be built amidst the troubles of the times." Much less can it be said that the glory of the Temple was reserved for the days of Herod, for from his house contention never departed, and after his death sufferings never ceased with the Jews, until their final overthrow. Nor can we admit that the glory of the second Temple consisted in its longer duration – a point discussed in the Talmud (Baba Bathra), for Scripture makes no mention of the glory being attributable to the length of the time during which the Temple was constructed or lasted. And even if the duration of the second Temple had exceeded by double the time that of the first Temple, the word glory could not have been assigned to this distinction. Decides this, we must also notice that the piece promised to reign in the latter times, did by no means prevail during the existence of the second Temple. The real object of the prophecy under consideration is to show, that the human labor displayed in rearing the second Temple was a esteemed but insignificant by the Almighty, for the prophet announces a complete change of heaven and earth. See ibid 2:6, "for thus sayeth the Lord of Hosts, there is one thing yet which is a little matter with me, that I shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land." Then also will the prophecy be fulfilled, "and the valuable things of all nations shall come" (as contributions to the glory of the house of God). Hitherto such an event has not yet come to pass; but it will take place when all the nations of the earth, who are adverse to the Jews (and who are termed in Scripture, Gog and Magog), shall be subjugated and pacified. See Ezekiel 38:19-20, "in my jealousy, and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel: so that the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the heaven, in the beast of the field, and all the creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are on the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence," etc. The restoration of the latter Temple has, on that account, been brought into connection with the battle of Gog and Magog (i.e., the ultimate cessation of all warfare). At that time the temple will be erected in surpassing splendor, and testifying all is the Lord’s according to the expression by Haggai, that "the gold and the silver belong unto Him." At that time the true glory of the house of God will be made manifest, and will excel that of the preceding temple. The Shechinah (the Divine presence) will reappear there, and there everlasting peace will take up its abode. To this alludes Haggai, by saying at the end of this book, chapter 2:21-22, "speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heaven and the earth; and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen, and I will overthrow the chariots of those who ride in them: and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of the brother." A similar vision seen by the prophet Zechariah, is also unconnected with the second temple, but relates to events to come in the latter days; for after fearful collisions of the last hostile kingdoms, the Messiah, descendant of Zerubbabel, will come, and He will be the perfection of all rulers. Hence Haggai says, in the concluding words of his book, chapter 2:23, "and I will make thee—Zerubbabel—as a signet for I have chosen thee, says the Lord of Hosts." The fulfillment was not to take place in the immediate times of Zerubbabel, for he remained during all his life in the same position as governor of Israel, without being ever raised to that exalted rank of which Haggai speaks.
But we find in Scripture similar promises, which were to be accomplished among a later posterity. Thus, for instance, the Almighty said to Abraham, when he made a covenant with him to give him the land of Canaan as an inheritance (Genesis 15:7), "I am the Lord who have brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give thee this land for inheritance."
This prediction undoubtedly related merely to the posterity of Abraham, as a set forth in the very same chapter (verse 18), "in that day the Lord made a covenant with Abraham, saying, unto thy seed have I given this land," etc. We must, therefore, of necessity explain the prophecy of Haggai as referring to the third Temple, of which Ezekiel, in chapter 40 and in subsequent passages, et passim, has given such an elaborate and distinct description. He has given us the express announcement that the Divine presence would reveal itself there in its fullest glory. To see Ezekiel 43:4-7, "and the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate which faces the east. So the spirit took me up and brought me into the inner court, and behold the glory of the Lord filled the house. And I heard one who was speaking unto me, and a man stood by me. And he said unto me, Son of Man, the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever, the house of Israel shall no more defile my Holy name," etc. This prevalence of universal peace will form the superior glory of the latter Temple. The inferiority of the second Temple may also be argued from the absence of the Holy ark, of the mercy seat, of the Urim and Thummim, etc.; but in the third Temple, which is to be raised at a future day, all the tokens of Divine glory will be restored and serve as a pledge for the endurance of perpetual peace. Hence the prophet Haggai says, "and in this place will I grant peace, saith the Lord of Hosts." Utterly untenable is also the assertion of the Christians, that the glory of the second Temple consisted in the event of the birth of Jesus. For, when he was born, the Temple was fast approaching its dissolution and lacked that peace expressly promised. Besides this, Jesus himself admitted, that his object was not to afford peace; for he says in Matthew 10:34, "think not that I am come to send peace on earth, I came not to send peace, but a sword." This forms a positive evidence that the promise of universal peace remains still to be accomplished.