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Haggai

John Collins10/11/2013

Video available here: http://youtu.be/lJlH-LwpW2Y

Another book of the Bible that you won’t find mentioned in the ministry of William Branham is the prophecy of Haggai.

After the Jewish exile to Babylon had ended, and the Children of Israel taken captive returned to their homeland around 520 BC, Haggai and Zechariah began prophesying the Word from the Lord to abandon the ways of their fathers and start serving the One True God.  Both prophetic books begin in the second year of the reign of king Darius, one in the sixth month and one in the eighth. 

Israel was severely punished for their idolatry.  Their people had been scattered, some taken into captivity, some fleeing into other lands, and some remaining in the demolished city of Jerusalem.  The temple had been practically razed to the ground by the conquering Babylonians that had taken Daniel and Ezekiel captive, and lay in ruins for over eighty years.   While God spoke through Haggai telling the people to rebuild the temple, He spoke through Zechariah telling all of the scattered Jews in far off lands to return to their homeland:

Up! Up! Flee from the land of the north, declares the Lord. For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heavens, declares the Lord.  Up! Escape to Zion, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon.   For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye:  “Behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they shall become plunder for those who served them. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me.

Zechariah 2

While Zechariah does prophecy concerning the temple in the vision of the “Man with a Measuring Line” and the prophecy of the “Crown and the Temple”, most of his prophetic words for the first two years described in the book of Zechariah were describing God’s vengeance upon all who had risen against Israel to place her into this fallen state.  Both prophets were proclaiming preparation for the coming King, God’s only Son who would come to redeem the Children of Israel from the Curse of the Law and fulfill the Old Covenant.

The book of Haggai takes place during the sixth and seventh month of Darius, with a call for the people to come together and finish rebuilding the temple that still remained unfinished.  The Word that came from the Lord to Haggai focused on Jerusalem, specifically, and the years leading up to this point in time:

Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.”  Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet,  “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? 

Haggai 1:2-4

The temple had lay waste from the invasion during Nebuchadnezzar II, and the people had abandoned the reconstruction.  There was great division among the Children of Israel after the captivity, and those who remained in the homeland were at odds with those taken captivity.  Those not suffering exile believed themselves to be more “pure” than those who had lived under Babylonian rule in a land filled with pagan worship. 

Descendants from the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Levi, the Samaritans insisted that their viewpoints of religion were the pure and unaltered worship of Yahweh.  The prophecies of Daniel and Ezekiel were considered “amendments” to the religion, and they were widely unaccepted.  Samaritans claimed that they were the true Children of Israel – descendants of the "Ten Lost Tribes" taken into Assyrian captivity.  According to the Samaritans, their version of the scrolls were the original and the Jews had a falsified text produced by Ezra during the Babylonian exile.

But the root of the problem addressed by God through Haggai was that the Samaritans had their own temple on Mount Gerizim.  They claimed that it was the original sanctuary, and because of this dispute, all reconstruction of the temple at Jerusalem had been halted, by both the Samaritans and the Jews.  Jews taken captive remembered their temple as they returned to their homeland, and were devastated to return to nothing but ruin.  They saw the Samaritans as invaders, claiming Jerusalem as their own.

This division ultimately would lead to the two groups of people completely separating and despising each other, as we find in the Gospels when Jesus breaks cultural boundaries to speak to a Samaritan woman.   But through the words of Christ, the temple claimed by the Samaritans was of little value, and their understanding of worship was very limited:

Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.  Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

John 4:21-23

After Haggai gave the word of the Lord to resume operations to rebuild the temple, God was well pleased.  The people had suffered drought and famine without understanding why God did not hear their plea, and God explained that He was unhappy with seeing his place of worship lay in ruin.  So when the people began to restore the temple, God spoke to them again to confirm that He was once more standing with them:

Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord.  Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord's message, “I am with you, declares the Lord.”  And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people. And they came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, on the twenty-fourth day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king.

Haggai 1:12-15

The reason that the book of Haggai is important, one that we should not overlook, is because of what the restoration of the temple would bring.  The Children of Israel had broken the Old Covenant, failed to save themselves through works-righteous faith, and had even failed to uphold the Old Covenant.  The climax of their punishment was captivity and destruction of the temple, but the new beginning started with the restoration.  God declared that the beauty of the new temple would be far greater than what they remembered from before its destruction:

Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, declares the Lord. Be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the Lord. Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land.  And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts. The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.

Haggai 2:3-9

But this book does not bode well for any leader who points prophetic words from the other books of the Bible towards their own ministry.  While the books during the fallen state of Israel proclaim judgment and severe punishment, Haggai proclaims restoration and rest in God’s blessing.  While the prophet Joel spoke the Word of judgment from the Lord over three hundred years prior to the reconstruction of the temple, Haggai spoke the Word from the Lord of blessing.

In a message entitled “I Will Restore,” William Branham takes the prophecy from the book of Joel – before the restoration – and applied it to the current ministry.  Branham, remember, promoted his ministry as the restoration of the church to the early faith of their fathers, as did many of the “Malachi 4 prophets” that have risen and fell throughout time.

The entire sermon, “I Will Restore,” is taken out of context from the 25th verse of the second chapter of Joel.  After reading verses 1-4, Branham reads the fifth verse and builds his “context” by taking verse 25 out of context.  The interpreter reading, this is the fifth verse that is read:

“The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men”

 

Branham speaking:  Now in Joel 2, and the 25th verse, is my text for the night.

 

 

The interpreter again, reading the 25th verse:

And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you

(55-0626E I.WILL.RESTORE)

 

But while taking a single verse out of context, and especially during a ministry that avoided the book of Haggai, it would sound as though God was sending a restorer.  Without the Word of the Lord given to Haggai, this prophecy from Joel was left unfulfilled – requiring the work of another man to come and finish the otherwise broken promise of God to the Children of Israel.  

Haggai is important, because God does not break his promises.

Consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month. Since the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid, consider: Is the seed yet in the barn? Indeed, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have yielded nothing. But from this day on I will bless you.”

Haggai 2:18-19

And Haggai is another prophecy that confirms Malachi chapter 4.  God was about to shake the world, purge it with the fire of the Holy Ghost, and bring justice to the nations that rose against Israel.  Kerubbabel was chosen as the one to be remembered when God fulfilled this promise:

The word of the Lord came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I am about to shake the heavens and the earth, and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders. And the horses and their riders shall go down, every one by the sword of his brother. On that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.”

Haggai 2:20-23

Though the glory should be given to God above any man, and though men should never be lifted up into glory that is equal to God, if any man is to be considered the “restorer” for people to observe for the restoration of the vine, fig tree, pomegranate, and olive tree, Zerubbabel would be the one – not a man from the 20th century.

God said that he chose Zerubbabel as the “signet ring,” and that the dominion the Father was entrusted him with.  According to custom, royal princes sign their proclamations, grants, and commissions with their signet-rings.

So the king took his signet ring from his hand and gave it to Haman the Agagite, the son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews.

Esther 3:10

But remember, the glory is to be given to God, not man.  Christ Jesus is the signet on God’s right hand, and all power is given to Him and through Him.  Paul said that Christ was the signet-ring that repealed the Old Covenant and signed the New Covenant of Grace between God and man.  Through Christ, the Gospel was signed, sealed, and delivered to the people. 

But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.  For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

Hebrews 8:6-7

 

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

Hebrews 8:13

Without the book of Haggai, and pointing this restoration away from Jesus Christ towards a man in the 20th century, this New Covenant is made irrelevant.  The seal that was placed on the Covenant, signed with the blood of Christ, becomes ancient history rather than current blessing. 

Haggai was so important that when Paul was speaking to the Jews about the Old Covenant of Law being replaced by the New Covenant of Grace, he specifically mentioned Haggai 2:6

For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land.

Haggai 2:6

Listen to what Paul says in Hebrews chapter 12:

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.

Hebrews 12:26

Hebrews 12 takes the prophecy of Haggai, expands upon it, and points it to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the signed New Covenant of Grace.  Paul did not avoid Haggai, and did not point scriptures of restoration towards himself.  Paul pointed the Old Testament prophets to Christ, and explained that all things were fulfilled when Christ died on the cross for us:

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

 

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.  At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12:18-29


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