I’ve mentioned before in the book of Ezra that some of the older generation that had seen Solomon’s temple wept when then saw the foundations of the new temple that was being built.
And here, we see some of the same feelings rising up from that generation when the work was restarted. So Haggai speaks to them saying,
‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’ (3-5)
In other words, don’t get discouraged by how this temple compares with the one Solomon built. And don’t get discouraged by all the opposition you’re facing. Get to work and build the temple, for I am with you. I was with you when I promised to bring you out of Egypt and my promises never change. I am the same God that brought you here and my Spirit still remains among you.
Then he said,
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,” says the Lord Almighty. “The silver is mine and the gold is mine,” declares the Lord Almighty. “The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,” says the Lord Almighty. “And in this place I will grant peace,” declares the Lord Almighty. (6-9)
Here we see another prophesy of the Messiah to come. Before his coming, there was a shaking of the nations, with one empire rising after another. And then Jesus came, the desired of all nations, and he filled that house with his presence and glory. God in human flesh was in that temple preaching and performing miracles.
As we look at this passage, I think we see a mistaken way of thinking in these older Jews. They merely looked at the outside of the temple, of the materials it was built from, and thought that the temple’s glory came from these things.
But the glory of Solomon’s temple, beautiful as it was, did not come from the gold or silver or any of the things it was built from. Its glory came from the presence of God dwelling inside of it.
And as beautiful as it was compared to the second temple that was built in Ezra’s time, it never had the privilege of housing God in human flesh. When Jesus stepped into the second temple, it received greater glory than Solomon’s temple ever did.
It’s the same with us. You may look at your life and think that you are nothing compared to the other “beautiful temples of God.” Others may be more physically beautiful or handsome. Others may be more talented or gifted. But your glory does not come from how you look or what gifts you may have. Your glory comes from Jesus living inside of you.
So don’t look around comparing yourself to others. And don’t get discouraged by the people that would keep you from following God. Be strong. Do the work that God has called you to do. The same God that brought you out of slavery to Satan’s kingdom is with you now and he’ll never leave you. And each day he will transform you into the glorious temple he created you to be. As Paul wrote,
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18)