Hyperbole, Headlines and Haggai; Part Two

Haggai 2:6+7

For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. And I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations; and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts.

The Coronavirus, Covid19, is used by pontifical politicians, manipulative media and prophecy pundits alike, to persuade people to listen to them. Notice that everyone has been wrong in some respects. I know panic when I see it, therefore I created a dossier of articles about the Coronavirus going back several weeks. Everyone has changed their proverbial tune, at least once, over the past several weeks, concerning the Coronavirus. As for the media and politicians, one cannot miss their mistakes because they are out there, for all the world to see yet most are in panic mode and don’t focus on the “evolving science” which first said mask were ineffective but now any mask of any kind is essential. But the prophecy pundits are also sneaky, more than any politician. They hide behind the words of God, taken out of context. I fell asleep last night watching a documentary on Harold Camping and his disciples. If you are unfamiliar with his prediction of the coming rapture, and his recalculating after it didn’t happen, simply enter his name into an interwebbing, search engine. The documentary was incredibly sad–to see all these people giving up their lives to spread the word that Jesus was coming soon, very soon. All this, based upon God’s words, ripped out of context and imposing one’s own principles on the text. While Harold Camping is the extreme, most modern, prophecy pundits proclaim similar statements and the switching of statements, after their first statements are found to be false. But far from recanting and apologizing, they double down on dubious dogma.

I want to take you back with me, to a certain communist country in the Caribbean, almost exactly two years ago. I should have returned from this country last week, sick, as I do every year. But even with the Coronavirus, I feel great, unlike every other year because we didn’t travel there this year due to the Coronavirus (simply pointing out the irony in my life.) However, two years ago I became very sick, more than usual, while in this certain communist country in the Caribbean. Beyond being sick, I had an infection in my right foot and had a large beam of wood dropped on my left foot–I was suffering with quite a bit of pain (free health care). Even more important, we couldn’t “find” materials to keep working on the addition to the church building. The government saw to it that our service was stymied. Work had come to a standstill for a time, which was fine by me. Not feeling well and having a greater desire to communicate rather than construct, I began speaking with the pastor’s son because he was learning English and I was learning Spanish. He also has aspirations to become a pastor. We talked about many things, sitting in the shade as some shelter from the hot sun but as you can imagine, I intently impressed upon him the importance of the Bible and considering the context. He spoke of prophets.

He told me of the prophets that had come to the church and made predictions to the congregation of what God was going to do on the island–this and that. We, among others, bring Bibles to them every year, to the point that almost everyone has access to a Bible in their town, if they desired. The congregation has at least one per family and the church building houses others. Anyone who desires to read, can borrow a Bible. While there is technically a shortage of Bibles in hard copy, most have Bible apps as well. Therefore I pointed out to him that prophets were unnecessary because of access to Bibles, not delving deep into proper doctrine, but keeping it simple. What was needed, I explained, was proper study and teaching of the Bible, God’s actual, recorded words.

Nevertheless, unless you are learning for yourself, you only know what you have been taught. He continued to proclaim the purpose of prophets to me. As gently as I could, I asked him again what the prophets promised–this and that? “Yes,” he told me, the prophets promised this and that. I asked, “did this and that happen?” He didn’t know that I had him and them cornered. First, the majority of their prophecies were a little vague but the ones that were not didn’t come to pass. Here’s the punchline; even though they prophesied presumptuously, rather than being killed, according to legalistic, Levitical Law, which they love, the prophets were invited back. Do you see where I am going with this?

Upon returning, rather than repenting and retracting from their erroneous exclamations, the prophets doubled down on presumptuous promises. And once again the people paid for false-flag, failed fulfillment from these presumptuous prophets. We see the same things from the prophecy pundits concerning the Coronavirus. First, it was going to be a great catastrophe casting a cloud on the coming tribulation. Then it was a herald of an immanent rapture. Then it was a way for the world to do away with cash, so that all could take the mark of the beast. But then they remembered that the beast hasn’t been revealed, according to their dubious dogma. As I have mentioned, I know what panic looks like. I used to be the world’s biggest person of panic but realized that when I panicked, I did and said the exact wrong things. I have also watched other people panic, and noticed how much worse panicking made their situations. The prophecy pundits panicked at the onset of the outbreak of the Coronavirus with curious claims. When at first, the majority of mainstream media was downplaying the disease, the prophecy pundits proclaimed pestilence of Biblical proportions. But when the media’s narrative shifted to this being the apocalypse, the prophecy pundits had to change their tune, slightly. Because of their dubious dogma which says, the world will be overwhelmed suddenly, like a thief in the night and the days of Noah, the prophecy pundits switched from pretribulational pestilence to the Coronavirus being the way for the world to go to a cashless system. Their latest claim, which changes almost daily, is that the world is preparing for the mark of the beast and the Antichrist system. Problem: there is no such thing as a “Cashless, Antichrist System.” In fact, Jesus was quite clear whose inscription and likeness was on the cold, hard currency of his generation. Secondly, it was the mark of a man, not God, a parody of Deuteronomy 6:8. Thirdly, it was the Mark of the Beast, not the Antichrist. My stance on the Coronavirus, however has not changed. I still say it’s sad and many people will die but not on the same scale as other events in history; why? Because the world may be a bizzaro world but it is getting better because Jesus reversed the curse on the cross and he said, “Look, I am making all things new.” He did not say that he made all things new, all at once. To understand this we have to understand the context, aspirations of the author to his audience, genre, explore examples and divide rightly the word of truth.

Therefore when God says, “Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. And I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations; and I will fill this house with glory,” it doesn’t apply to us. Especially because we actually take the Scripture literally unless we see symbolism and an obvious metaphor. Nevertheless we see the types and shadows of the situation. We won’t take the time to read the entire text again but we will hit the highlights remembering the historical context. Israel, or better stated, some of Judah, Benjamin and the Levites had returned from Babylonian exile and weren’t doing a very good job of fulfilling the decree from Cyrus to rebuild the temple and the walls. God has called them out on this and convinced them to do a better job. But in doing a better job, God still says to them; “Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison?” The first temple, built by Solomon was adorned in gold but that gold was carried off to Babylon. This second temple was nothing in comparison.

“Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. And I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations; and I will fill this house with glory, The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine, The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former, and in this place I shall give peace.”

Is this literal or figurative? We start by taking it literally, in that; “once again,” means “once again.” And when he says, “once again,” we understand that he did it before and will do it one more time. Are you with me? “Once again” has no indication of being “twice again” or “thrice again.” However it does not exclude the possibility of multiple shakings–we don’t want to be dogmatic but clearly God says, “once again” and we understand that he has a specific event in mind and I will guarentee that it is not the Coronavirus or even WWII. This is temple talk, not far future earthquakes and pestilence but rather a promise to their people concerning the temple.

“‘I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations; 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 will be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘and in this place I shall give peace,’ declares the LORD of hosts.”

At first, the hearer, along with the reader would assume that the Lord is literally talking about the temple and indeed he is but as one continued to listen or continues to read, one starts to see the symbolism woven into the fabric of his statement and as always, it is revealed progressively. Notice that two months and three days pass between this statement and the next.

“On the twenty-fourth of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Haggai the prophet saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Ask now the priests for a ruling: If a man carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and touches bread with this fold, or cooked food, wine, oil, or any other food, will it become holy?”‘ And the priests answered and said, ‘No’ Then Haggai said, ‘If one who is unclean from a corpse touches any of these, will the latter become unclean?’ And the priests answered and said, ‘It will become unclean.’ Then Haggai answered and said, ‘”So is this people. And so is this nation before Me,” declares the LORD, “and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean. But now, do consider from this day onward: before one stone was placed on another in the temple of the LORD, from that time when one came to a grain heap of twenty measures, there would be only ten; and when one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there would be only twenty.”‘”

We’ve seen some temple talk and now we see a quiz on the application of Levitical Law, from the Lord, through Haggai to the priests. Once again (specifically and literally but not exclusively), we have to consider the historical context and the greater context of Haggai to understand the symbolism in this statement and the reason for the quiz. In the beginning of Haggai the Lord provokes his people; “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘This people says, “The time has not come, even the time for the house of the LORD to be rebuilt.”‘” The people present who returned from exile were slacking in their service to the Lord and his temple. It has been over 70 years since the first temple toppled and the returning remnant, including the priests, were out of practice to say the least. That’s an understatement, we read in Nehemiah of the return of the priestly line and how Ezra read and translated the Law to all the people. “Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth, and with dirt upon them. And the descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God. Now on the Levites’ platform stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani, and Chenani, and they cried with a loud voice to the LORD their God.”

These men were new to temple service, the context of Haggai, Nehemiah and Ezra, expository exegesis and simple arithmetic confirm this. In numbers we read, “Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘This is what applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall enter to perform service in the work of the tent of meeting.'” We see this in Numbers 8 and fifty years was the age of retirement, but David changed the numbers from Numbers. “For by the last words of David the sons of Levi were numbered from twenty years old and upward.” Taking the younger age of 20, adding the 70 years of exile we clearly see that a 90 year old has soared past the age of retirement of a priest. However, if a 90 year old man survived the exile and returned, he could assist the Levites in service, according to Numbers, chapter 8. Nevertheless, the priests and the people were inexperienced in temple service, thus the quiz is certainly not unexpected. But the quiz, as all quizzes are, is not only to test adaptive recall but also to demonstrate to the person taking the quiz where they are at. In Haggai, they were not in a good place. 

We see the results of the quiz: “Then Haggai answered and said, ‘”So is this people. And so is this nation before Me,” declares the LORD, “and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean. But now, do consider from this day onward: before one stone was placed on another in the temple of the LORD, from that time when one came to a grain heap of twenty measures, there would be only ten; and when one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there would be only twenty. I smote you and every work of your hands with blasting wind, mildew, and hail; yet you did not come back to Me,” declares the LORD. “Do consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month; from the day when the temple of the LORD was founded, consider: Is the seed still in the barn? Even including the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree, it has not borne fruit. Yet from this day on I will bless you.”‘”

Be honest, God’s promise to bless seems more like a curse. Let’s look more closely at the content. “Then Haggai answered and said, ‘”So is this people. And so is this nation before Me,” declares the LORD, “and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean. But now, do consider from this day onward: before one stone was placed on another in the temple of the LORD, from that time when one came to a grain heap of twenty measures, there would be only ten; and when one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there would be only twenty. I smote you and every work of your hands with blasting wind, mildew, and hail; yet you did not come back to Me,” declares the LORD. “Do consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month; from the day when the temple of the LORD was founded, consider: Is the seed still in the barn? Even including the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree, it has not borne fruit. Yet from this day on I will bless you.”‘”

The dogmatic dispensationalists and prophecy pundits argue that the modern state of Israel is under this blessing based upon what they see in the headlines. Israel is indeed the eighth largest economy in the world. They have made incredible strides in healthcare, sanitation, agriculture internet and the like. Once desolate wilderness is now bountiful, fruit-yielding fields. The new wine and the olive oil flow. But is this what the Lord promised in Haggai? Context is king and expository exegesis enlightens as we consider the author’s aspirations to his audience.

“‘Speak to Zerubbabel governor of Judah saying, “I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. And I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariots and their riders, and the horses and their riders will go down, everyone by the sword of another. On that day,” declares the LORD of hosts, “I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant,” declares the LORD, “and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,” declares the LORD of hosts.'”

Literally, “sword” means “sword.” Nevertheless we see the typology of Zerubbabel and the Messiah, based on the context and examples. We see the sin of the people and the promise of the Lord. We must remember that the Lord of hosts is Jesus himself, according to John 1:18, and the fact that God is one. My point is that Jesus, while walking among Israel, remembered the words of Haggai. We must also remember the words of Haggai as Jesus enters Jerusalem. Let’s hit the highlights beginning in Matthew.

“And when they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage [House of unripe figs], to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them, and bring them to Me [prophecy from Haggai’s contemporary, Zechariah]”

“And most of the multitude spread their garments in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees, and spreading them in the road.”

“And when He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, ‘Who is this?’ And the multitudes were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth [branch] in Galilee.'”

“And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He said to them, ‘It is written, “MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER;” but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.’ And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were crying out in the temple and saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they became indignant, and said to Him, ‘Do You hear what these are saying?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read, “OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABIES YOU HAVE PREPARED PRAISE FOR YOURSELF?”‘ And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, [house of figs; presumably ripened] and lodged there.”

“Now in the morning, when He returned to the city, He became hungry. And seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it, and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.’ And at once the fig tree withered. And seeing this, the disciples marveled, saying, ‘How did the fig tree wither at once?’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, if you have faith, and do not doubt, you shall not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and cast into the sea,” it shall happen. And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.'”

“‘A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, “Son, go work today in the vineyard.” And he answered and said, “I will, sir:” and he did not go. And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, “I will not;” yet he afterward regretted it and went. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, “The latter.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you.'”

“’Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers, and went on a journey. And when the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. And the vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and seize his inheritance.” And they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers?’ They said to Him, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers, who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Did you never read in the Scriptures, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES?” Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you, and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.'”

Then the Pharisees tested Jesus: “”Tell us therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not?’ But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, ‘Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.’ And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, ‘Whose likeness and inscription is this?’ They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s.’ Then He said to them, ‘Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.'” Cold, hard, currency not a barcode, cellphone or microchip.

Jesus then rips the Pharisees a new one: “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.’ You fools and blind men; which is more important, the gold, or the temple that sanctified the gold?”

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

“You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell? Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate.”

“And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He answered and said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”

“And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will mislead many. And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name. And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world [literally, land] for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.”

The Coronavirus is neither mentioned in Haggai nor in Matthew or any other book of the Bible. The problem is that the prophecy pundits place that of which happened in the first century, squarely on our shoulders. They do this by imposing themselves into the text of the Bible which was fulfilled in the first century. When Jesus spoke to the people through Haggai, he was speaking to them about their present and their future. When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees and the disciples about their present and their future, he was speaking to them about their present and their future. I have to remind myself to keep it simple stupid, God did. If you have yet to connect the dots, simply put forth by the Lord, stay tuned as we will see how Jesus connected Haggai to himself and his generation, Lord willing. Haggai was not written concerning the Coronavirus but the rebuilding of the temple for Jesus to enter. Nevertheless, we do take the idealistic approach to see, learn about and know God.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s