الرئيسية / Apologetics / You claim that Haggai 2 points to the fact that the Messiah had to come before the Second Temple was destroyed, since it says in verse 9 that the glory of the Second Temple would be greater than the glory of Solomon’s Temple. Actually, Haggai is speaking about only the physical splendor of the Second Temple, which surpassed Solomon’s Temple in the days of Herod.

You claim that Haggai 2 points to the fact that the Messiah had to come before the Second Temple was destroyed, since it says in verse 9 that the glory of the Second Temple would be greater than the glory of Solomon’s Temple. Actually, Haggai is speaking about only the physical splendor of the Second Temple, which surpassed Solomon’s Temple in the days of Herod.

claim Haggai 2 points to the the to before the Second Temple destroyed, says in 9 the of the Second Temple be greater the of Solomon’s Temple. Actually, Haggai about the physical splendor of the Second Temple, which surpassed Solomon’s Temple in the days of Herod.

Although there are some clear references in Haggai 2 to an abundance of gold and silver be used in rebuilding the Temple, there can be no doubt the phrase “to fill with ” refers to the manifest presence of God and not to physical splendor. We can therefore ask, In what way did the of the Second Temple surpass of the First Temple? The answer inescapable: The , the King of , the very embodiment of the presence and power of God, visited that Temple.

We dealt with this objection in a different context in vol. 1, 2.1, pointing out several compelling reasons that the references to the Temple being filled with could not be explained with primary reference to the physical rebuilding of the Temple with massive amounts of silver and gold. Rather, Haggai’s prophecy must ultimately be understood as meaning that the Temple be filled with the splendor of God’s glorious presence. Before expanding on this in more depth, let’s read the relevant verses in Haggai’s prophecy:

This 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 the desired of all nations will , and I will fill this house with ,” says the Lord Almighty. “The silver mine and the gold mine,” declares the Lord Almighty. “The of this present house will be greater the of the former house,” says the Lord Almighty. “And in this place I will grant peace,” declares the Lord Almighty.

Haggai 2:6–9

How can we be sure the prophet not simply declaring that the Second Temple be built more beautifully Solomon’s Temple? After all, the Hebrew word kavod can sometimes refer to wealth and riches, as in Genesis 31:1: “Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, ‘Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth [kavod] from what belonged to our father.’ ” And the context in Haggai 2 makes reference to the abundance of silver and gold that God send for the rebuilding of the Temple. What then gives me the right to insist on a primarily spiritual interpretation to this passage?

First, the Lord making a specific comparison between the of the First Temple and the of the Second Temple, and the Scriptures are very clear about the nature of the of the First Temple: The supernatural presence of God there. The fire of God there. That the of the First Temple (see 2 Chron. 7:1–4). Second, God promises to “fill this house with ,” and the expression “fill with ” always refers to the divine manifestation in the Bible (see vol. 1, 2.1). Third, the Talmud and later Rabbinic literature noted that some of the most important elements found in the First Temple—some of the very symbols of the of God, I might add—were not found in the Second Temple, namely, the ark of the covenant, the divine fire, the Holy Spirit, the Shekhinah, the Urim and Thummim.297 How then could be said that the glory of the Second Temple surpass that of the First when the Second Temple devoid of the very manifest presence of God that defined the First Temple’s glory? Fourth, the ancient Jewish sages could not agree on the meaning of the passage, some claiming that the glory would consist in the longer duration of the Second Temple (i.e., lasted longer the First Temple did; cf. b. Baba Bathra 3a). This argument, however, is so weak that even the sixteenth-century refutationist Isaac Troki—an arch opponent of Christianity—decisively refuted , stating,

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 the Scripture makes no mention of the glory being attributable to the length of the time during which the temple constructed or lasted. And even if the duration of the second temple exceeded by double the time that of the first temple, the word glory could not have been assigned to this distinction.298

And if the promise merely one of physical glory and splendor—which, as we have noted, falls far short of the description of being filled with God’s glory—why then is an additional promise offered in Haggai 2:9, namely, that in the Second Temple God would appoint peace?299 is because the Lord is promising several things for the Second Temple: (1) would be built with the riches of the nations; (2) would be filled with the glory of God; and (3) the Lord would appoint peace there. So clear was this last word that Ibn Ezra actually raised the possibility that the promise of peace in Haggai 2:9 was conditional, the conditions being “if they will be completely righteous, as Zechariah said, and if they will diligently hearken and obey.”

Ibn Ezra’s interpretation reminds us of the interpretative problems faced by Rabbinic Judaism, there are prophecies that were supposed to be fulfilled in the days of the Second Temple—Messianic prophecies of fundamental importance—but that were never fulfilled, according to the ancient rabbis (see vol. 1, esp. 2.1). Other prophecies were read as possibilities, the Scriptures predicted that the would on the clouds of heaven, exalted and glorious (Dan. 7:13), and also declared that he would riding on a donkey, meek and lowly (Zech. 9:9). According to the Talmud, if Israel was righteous and worthy, he would on the clouds; if Israel was sinful and unworthy, he would riding on a donkey. But the Bible did not say these were mere possibilities and one of them would prove true; rather, they were inspired prophecies, both of which would prove true. First the came riding on a donkey (in point of , we were not worthy of his coming then); when we repent and welcome him back (thus becoming worthy to receive him as King), he will return in the clouds of heaven.

And is ’s coming to the Second Temple that explains Haggai’s prophecy. Something more wonderful the divine fire would visit that place; something greater the cloud of glory would be manifest there. The Son of God himself, King , the glorious Word made flesh, would to that Temple, teaching, preaching, cleansing, refining, and working miracles. would be the ultimate divine visitation, far greater anything that took place in Solomon’s Temple. The Second Temple was also the place of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost), as recorded in Acts 2, as well as the place of miraculous healings through the ’s emissaries (see Acts 3; and note especially Acts 2:43; 5:12). Surely that Temple was filled with glory! And it was in the Second Temple that the one who gave his life as an offering to make peace between God and man, and between Jew and Gentile, came and offered peace (cf. also Luke 1:79; 2:14; 19:42; Acts 10:36).300

[1]

 

297 Another Rabbinic list omits the Shekhinah and separates the ark of the covenant from the mercy seat with the cherubim, thus making five missing items.

298 Troki, Faith Strengthened, 170. For the comparison between the First and Second Temples, cf. esp. b. Yoma 21b and 52b; see further H. N. Bilalik and Y. H. Ravnitzky, eds., The Book of Legends: Sefer Ha-Aggadah, trans. W. G. Braude (New York: Schocken, 1992), 161, #11; cf. also ibid., 165–66, #28, for b. Yoma 9b and Eyn Yaakov.

299 For Troki, this promise also excluded the possibility of fulfillment in the days of the Second Temple; see vol. 1, p, 223, nn. 12–13. Troki’s own answer was a counsel of despair: The prophecy referred to the Third Temple! See vol. 1, ibid.

300 Cf. vol. 1, 2.6 (explaining Matt. 10:34); regarding the greater glory of the Second Temple, cf. Batei Midrashot 2, 24:11, listing the five elements missing from the Second Temple that will return to the final Temple, based on Haggai 2: the fire of the Shekhinah, the ark, the kapporet and cherubim, the Holy Spirit, and the Urim and Thummim.

[1]Brown, M. L. (2003). Answering Jewish objections to Jesus, Volume 3: Messianic prophecy objections (145). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.

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