Friday, March 17, 2017

Haggai, part 2, third and fourth prophecies

Continuing on with the prophecies in the Old Testament book of Haggai:
Verse 10 of chapter 2 gives the date of the 3rd prophecy as December 18, 520 BC. Read 10 – 19:
 10 On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Haggai: 11 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Ask the priests what the law says: 12 If someone carries consecrated
meat in the fold of their garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, olive oil or other food, does it become consecrated?’”
   The priests answered, “No.”
 13 Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?”
   “Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled.”
 14 Then Haggai said, “‘So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,’ declares the LORD. ‘Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.
 15 “‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on—consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the LORD’s temple. 16 When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. 17 I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not return to me,’ declares the LORD. 18 ‘From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the LORD’s temple was laid. Give careful thought: 19 Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.
   “‘From this day on I will bless you.’”
This may seem like a confusing prophecy, but Haggai now asks the people a question which the priests are supposed to answer: If a priest is carrying something holy and he touches something unholy, like a corpse, does that make the corpse holy? The priests answer no. If the person who is unclean touches the priest, does that make the priest unclean? The priests answer yes. What is the point of this?
It sounds like one bad apple spoils the bunch, doesn’t it? The point is that holiness does not come by contact. It is not transferable. But contact with unholiness (ungodliness, sin) does defile a person. If a healthy person kisses a person with a communicable disease, the healthy person doesn’t cure the sick one, but the sick one will infect the healthy one. This is a big reminder that sin contaminates.
Finally, at the end of verse 19 we read that from that day on God will bless them. Finishing the chapter we have a final word, or 4th prophecy, given on the same day as the 3rd prophecy.  The people are given hope for the future by hearing that God was going to destroy their enemies and establish His kingdom with them, His chosen people. The fact that Zerubbabel is compared to a signet ring means that he is a symbol of authority. The previous 3 prophecies were given to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, and to the people, but this one is just to Zerubbabel. The distant future is envisioned, when heaven and earth will be shaken and the Gentile nations destroyed. This will be the time of Christ’s return and many scholars feel that the title “Zerubbabel My Servant” (2:23) is referring to Jesus. Also, Haggai’s promise to the governor foresees the restoration of the Davidic dynasty.
All right, this is getting a little deep. We need some background on Zerubbabel. He was in the direct line of King David and thus should have been qualified to be king, but if you check the story in Jeremiah (22: 24 – 27) you find that his great grandfather was cursed and none of his descendants would be allowed to sit on the throne.
24 "As surely as I live," declares the LORD, "even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off. 25 I will hand you over to those who seek your life, those you fear—to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to the Babylonians. 26 I will hurl you and the mother who gave you birth into another country, where neither of you was born, and there you both will die. 27 You will never come back to the land you long to return to."

By calling Zerubbabel His “servant” and “chosen” one, God has reversed the curse and given him the same status that David had. The people must have been jubilant that the Gentile kingdoms would be destroyed and Zerubbabel would be exalted to rule! However, this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled. It is an end time prophecy.