Monday, April 11, 2016

The Glorious House

“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. 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 will give peace,’ declares the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:6-9).

I had the joy of speaking during the last session of a women’s conference at our church yesterday morning. We looked at the great contrast between Solomon’s Temple, destroyed in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians, and the second Temple, completed in 515 B.C. At the dedication of its foundation, the weeping of the folks who remembered the splendor of the first Temple blended with the joyful shouts of the young folks, who were excited to be rebuilding the Temple, even if it were much smaller (Ezra 3:10-13). The LORD, aware of the temptation to discouragement, asks, “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” (Haggai 2:3). He spoke the thoughts of many of them, no doubt. He then gives them a triple “take courage…take courage…take courage” (2:4), reminding them of the promise of His presence rooted in the Exodus itself (2:5). He ends the sermon with a foreshadowing of a greater glory.

That glory is the global Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. I didn’t have time to trace this out in yesterday’s sermon (I was focusing on taking courage for God’s glory), but Haggai’s prophecy here fits into a cover-to-cover theme in the Bible. The “wealth of the nations” will be brought into God’s “house,” and He will fill it with a glory that will make Solomon’s Temple look like nothing. And there, He promises, He “will give peace.”

Let’s go back.

Noah, after the Flood and after his being sinned against by “Ham, the father of Canaan” (Genesis 9:20-24), gives this prophecy:
“Blessed be the LORD,
The God of Shem
[father of the Semites, the Jews];
And let Canaan be his servant.
May God enlarge Japheth [the father of the nations],
And let him dwell in the tents of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant”
(Genesis 9:26,27).

The LORD is blessed. His old covenant relationship with the children of Shem (and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) is foretold (“the LORD, the God of Shem”). Here’s the awesome part: God’s plan to bring the Gentiles into the new covenant is also foretold! God will cause the nations to grow, and will bring them into the “tents” of His covenant people. This is the new covenant, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s the glory described in Ephesians 2:11-22. As Peter the apostle (a Jew) said at the first Church Council in Antioch, “God…made no distinction between us [Jewish believers in Christ] and them [Gentile believers in Christ], cleansing their hearts by faith…we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are” (Acts 15:9,11).

The nations are brought into the house of God.

Eleven generations after Noah, Abraham shows the depth of his faith and almost sacrifices his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. After God provides “for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering” (22:8), another Gospel promise is made by the LORD to Abraham: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 22:18). The nations will find their blessing “in [Abraham’s] seed.” The apostle Paul will tell us this “seed” (singular) is Christ (Galatians 3:16) – Jesus, Jewish descendant of Shem and Abraham. In Shem’s descendant the descendants of Japheth will be blessed.

That two examples of the beginning of the Book. Let’s go the end of the Book.

“I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:22-27).

What is brought into the city? The “glory” of “the kings of the earth” (21:24). This is paralleled with “the glory and honor of the nations” in 21:26, but it is not until 21:27 that we get a third parallel that makes clear what this “glory and honor” is. Just as “glory” is brought “into it” (21:24) and “the glory and honor” is brought “into it” (21:26), “those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” come “into it” (21:27). The “glory and honor of the nations” are the saved from out of the nations, “whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

God has brought the wealth, the glory, the honor of the nations into His house, making it glorious. We know that the “house of God” in the New Testament is the Church, the people of God in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:9-17; 6:19,20; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Timothy 3:15; Hebrews 3:6; 1 Peter 2:4,5). Seeing all of this, then, we know that God’s house is global – all believers in Christ throughout the nations. He dwells with them through His Holy Spirit. While Solomon’s Temple was on Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the new covenant House of God covers the planet. It is greater than the kingdoms of this world – God’s shaking of “the heavens and earth” is an overthrowing of kingdoms and their powers during His gathering to “fill this house with glory” (Haggai 2:21,22). Solomon’s Temple was visited by those faithful old covenant Jews who obeyed the pilgrimage feasts, but the new covenant House of God is filled with Jews who believe in Christ and those “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).

“Arise, shine; for your light has come,
And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness will cover the earth
And deep darkness the peoples;
But the LORD will rise upon you.
Nations will come to your light,
And kings to the brightness of your rising.
Lift up your eyes round about and see;
They all gather together, they come to you.
Your sons will come from afar,
And your daughters will be carried in their arms.
Then you will see and be radiant,
And your heart will thrill and rejoice;
Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you,
The wealth of the nations will come to you…
…and I shall glorify My glorious house” (Isaiah 60:1-5,7).

She is beautiful. Rejoice!

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