Intro: The prophet Haggai [P] delivered five messages from יְהוָה to the remnant of the Jews who had returned from exile in Babylonia. Their country was in ruins and their job was to rebuild, and in particular, to rebuild the temple of יְהוָה that had been torn down by the Babylonian invaders. They had a commission from the Cyrus the ruler of the empire to do so, and more importantly a commission by יְהוָה Himself. But due to opposition and change in circumstances they stopped work. So the first message יְהוָה gave them through Haggai was one of rebuke [P], telling them to stop looking after their own interests and get on with building His house. The leaders and people took the message to heart and got on with building the temple, so three weeks later יְהוָה gave another message through His prophet Haggai, a word of commendation [P], assuring them that He was with them. They had the presence of יְהוָה Himself with them in the work they were undertaking. But some of them remembered the previous temple, built by Solomon which was so splendid and glorious – they got discouraged. So a month later, יְהוָה spoke again, this time a message of encouragement [P]. יְהוָה assured them that He Himself was going to act; shaking all things, making the temple even more glorious than that which had been previously. A couple of months later יְהוָה spoke again through Haggai; that is the message which we looked at last time [P]. יְהוָה spoke about holiness and purity – how defilement spread but holiness did not. They were defiled but יְהוָה promised that even so, He would bless them. The curse upon them would be transformed into blessing. All these messages are carefully recorded, giving the date they were given and who they were addressed to. The very same day that last message was given יְהוָה spoke again – two prophecies in the same day. But they were quite distinct. The previous four prophecies were addressed to Zerubbabel, the leader of the civil administration; Joshua, the spiritual leader; and to the godly remnant – those that had returned from exile. But this last prophecy was directed specifically to Zerubbabel alone. יְהוָה had said in [Haggai 2:6-7 ‘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,’.] – perhaps this message of shaking had worried him – so יְהוָה gives a steadying message concerning safety [P] – by the picture of a “signet” יְהוָה taught how He valued and cared for them. And also how secure they were in troubled times because of He was ruling. So let’s read what He had to say to Zerubbabel: [Haggai 2:20-23 Then the word of יְהוָה came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying, “Speak to Zerubbabel governor of Judah, saying, ‘I am going to shake the heavens and the earth (alluding to the message He had spoken earlier that day). ‘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.’ (all the nations are amassed against Jerusalem by יְהוָה will intervene personally, and destroy them) ‘On that day,’ (the day of shaking, the day of the LORD) declares יְהוָה of armies, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant,’ declares יְהוָה, ‘and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ ” declares יְהוָה of armies.]
You will notice that all five messages are given in under 4 months. Now Isaiah ministered all through the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah; Daniel over complete changes in empire, maybe over 70 years – but Haggai prophesied for less than 4 months. Not that I am saying these prophecies that we have recorded are the only messages he delivered – but it does illustrate how God uses each of us differently. You can see someone else with a fruitful ministry, doing lots right throughout their whole life, yet you seem to have little opportunity. There may be a significant task at a specific time He has for you to do – remember Esther [Esther 4:14 who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?] You live your whole life for God, but He determines how He uses it for His purposes, what significance it has in them. יְהוָה referred to the shaking of the nations that He had spoke about earlier in the day (cf. Hag 2:6-7) – this shaking of the heavens and the earth (Hag 2:21) and the destruction of the kingdoms of the nations, refers to the future tribulation. The purpose of the shaking is to overthrow the evil order, those that have usurped יְהוָה’s authority, those who have exalted themselves rather than having been given authority by יְהוָה. "I will shake ..." – this is יְהוָה’s doing – His own personal intervention! This shaking will destroy the thrones of kingdoms, so that the Kingdom of Messiah may be set up. He is the "Stone" of (Daniel 2:44) that smites the image, that is man’s rule, and destroys it. This shaking is in the future [Revelation 6:12-17 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake;(a shaking) and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places (the heavens and earth are shaken). Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”]. There will be a time of great wrath when יְהוָה judges the earth. There is One on the throne – God’s Kingdom is established and it is a firm and harsh rule to bring those who oppose Him into line.
Symbol of Zerubbabel: But first we need to take note of who this prophecy is addressed to before we can apply it. Is it spoken to God’s own people or to their enemies? We are going to get the wrong message if we take a prophecy that is not intended for us. One message does not fit all. I have applied the prophecies of Haggai to us – I think they are relevant because they were delivered to the godly remnant, those seeking to do God’s will – and I place us in that category. But this last message was addressed to Zerubbabel, a civil ruler in province of Judea under Medo-Persian rule some 2 ½ thousand years ago – why then is it in the Bible? Because it is not just a message for Zerubbabel, but we do need to take note of whom it is addressed to, in order to know who to apply it to. Who is Zerubbabel? Well, he is the governor, the civil ruler [P]. He is over the land and the people in terms of administration – it was a message spoken to the ruler. We have a God who is Author, Sustainer and Perfector – a Sovereign God in absolute control of history! Hallelujah! Do you believe that? Well, that is what the Bible teaches! We live our lives, but there is a God in control of history ordering events. He does so, giving them a significance beyond themselves. So God does not only speak in words but also through events. So Abraham really did go to offer up his only son, but in doing so this actual event prophetically prefigured God offering up His only Son. An actual event in history was a prophecy of what was going to happen in the future. The Exodus from Egypt with the redemption and Passover lamb – were actually events but they play out in history the redemption that God would provide through Jesus our Passover Lamb. We see it again and again – crossing the Red Sea pictures baptism, as Moses lifted the serpent, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. People were acting out in the events of their lives things in the future. Actual events had prophetic significance – so too with Zerubbabel. He was the governor; he is the ruler of the people. He is of the line of David [P] – who prophetically pictures who? The Messiah, the coming King who will rule. Just as David ruled in righteousness and justice, so too will Jesus. Jesus was descended from David – so when David said [Psalm 16:10 You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.] he was not speaking of himself but of? Jesus! His resurrection! So if you follow the line of David [P] you come to Jesus [P]. We have two genealogies of Jesus in the NT, which differ from each other, some say the one in Matthew is the line through Joseph, and the one in Luke is the line through Mary – be that as it may – both the lineage in Matthew [P] and the lineage in Luke [P] both pass through this man Zerubbabel. He is in the line of the Messiah and prophetically represents Him as the coming King. So Zerubbabel represents the coming ruler, He prophetically pictures the Messiah [P]. So, with that in mind, what is this prophecy saying? That on a certain day, the day of the LORD, יְהוָה Himself will intervene and destroy the nations that are attacking Jerusalem – Israel will be saved! Hallelujah! God’s purposes fulfilled. And in that very day that יְהוָה defeats Israel’s enemies He is going to make Zerubbabel a signet ring because He has chosen Him. Well it is not Zerubbabel, because he is dead – it is referring to the One descended from him – the Ruler, the Messiah יְהוָה’s chosen King. On the day that יְהוָה defeats the nations of the world He is going to install His King in Jerusalem [Psalm 2:1-6 Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against יְהוָה and against His Anointed, (that is Jesus, the Messiah) saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!” He who sits in the heavens laughs, יְהוָה scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”]
Symbol of signet: So Jesus is installed as ruler. יְהוָה says that He will make Him like a signet. What does He mean?! We don’t have signets (other than baby swans); it has little meaning to us. We may not have signets but we do have signatures [P]. I sign my name – it used to be our signature (now it is probably our PIN or password) – it carries our authority. A few of us still sign cheques – that signature on the bottom gives access to the money in my account. Without that signature on the bottom you won’t get anything. There is a little strip of paper, worth about a cent; I sign my name on the bottom and it is worth a thousand dollars to John. It is worth nothing until it has that untidy scrawl on the bottom. That signature transforms it into something of value and power. How does that work? My signature on the bottom of the cheque gives the bank the authority to take $1000 from my bank account. They cannot do it unless they have my signature. My signature carries my authority. It is granting my personal permission – it represents me. It says Paul Hawkins himself authorizes $1000 to be paid. It is my personal permission. Still today, if I have an important document, buying a house, establishing a contract or bank account – still I have to sign the document. It is authoritative. My signature represents me, stands for me. When I sign a form at work, it is saying that Paul has done this, checked this and takes responsibility for it. I sign my name, the word has a “g” in it – because it comes from the same Latin root for signature; or from the related French, you get “signet”. Back along on an authoritative document, you not only put your signature, it also had an official seal [P]. You melted a bob of sealing wax; then on your ring finger you had a signet ring, which was engraved with your crest or emblem, you pressed the ring into the wax and it left your distinctive mark or seal. The one receiving the document knew it had your authority. This was much used in ancient times [P] – this is one from ancient Egypt, or a replica of it. You can see the indented surface that would produce a embossed mark in the clay or wax [P]. This is a more authentic ring [P], with the impression it made – not in wax but in clay. This is an Assyrian one [P], the stone would have been set in a ring. They were not worn by ordinary Joes like you and me, but high officials, rulers and the like. This is what the prophet Haggai was referring to. יְהוָה was going to make His anointed ruler a signet ring [P].
Full authority: Kings’ seals were used on letters to give them the status of royal directives; a person who possessed the king’s signet had much authority. You put that seal on a document and it was to be carried out by order of the king himself. By saying He was going to make Zerubbabel like a signet ring יְהוָה was saying that He was going to vest in Him His own full authority [P]. A promised ruler (Hag 2:23) will come – the Messiah – He will rule with the authority of יְהוָה Himself! יְהוָה will give His rule into the hands of His Son [Daniel 7:13-14 “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.] Haggai had given a message that יְהוָה would bless them from that day on (Hag 2:19) –יְהוָה’s blessing is made complete when Jesus Himself reigns as King and Messiah, in righteousness, justice and peace – the ultimate blessing completed. יְהוָה had said that He will shake all things! It will be a terrible time of destruction! יְהוָה will act in fierce wrath! "I will overthrow ...."; "I will destroy ..."; "I will overthrow ..."; "they will go down ... each by the sword of his brother." It is a time of great war. יְהוָה will rule! He will overthrow all those who have exalted themselves into positions of power and rule over others. He, personally, will throw them down! Hallelujah! [Revelation 19:6 Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.] We long for Jesus to come – but He is coming to rule. Coming as KING! His rule will be unyielding and firm, it will be harsh against all who would dare oppose it. [Revelation 19:11-21 And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”] God gives full authority to rule to His Son, Jesus [Matthew 28:18 Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.] [John 5:27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.] יְהוָה Has appointed Him to rule over all [Colossians 2:10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;]. All is subject to Him [1 Peter 3:22 who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him.] The Good News that Jesus proclaimed was of a coming Kingdom! A King ruling with the full authority of יְהוָה! A rod of iron! The trouble is that we are not used to authority and we don’t like it. In a democracy who has authority? The P.M. – only if we elect him. If we don’t like what he does we vote him out, or lobby the government to got our way, or the media puts pressure on those in power, manipulating public opinion. We think everyone has a right to his say. We chafe against one ruling with authority! But that is what Jesus is going to do. [Psalm 2:8-12 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’] Jesus will rule as King over all and forever with the full authority of His Father. He carries His signet. [Revelation 19:15-16 From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”]
Delegated rule: But we resist authority, we say that such authority is open to abuse, you get a tyrant – and hasn’t history shown that? But not only is a signet authority, it is delegated authority. The one to whom the signet ring is given rules on behalf of the one who gave it to him. It is delegated rule [P]. I have at home a cheque book to my parents’ account. Back along I was living in Mum and Dad’s house, they were in Tauranga. It was before the days of internet banking and easy transfers, if they needed to have some work done on the place I could access funds. Now, I could milk their account dry – but they left that cheque book with me and gave me signing rights because they could trust me. I wasn’t going to spend it on myself. That is how it is with Jesus. His Father has given all authority to Him because He can trust Him to use it in accordance with His own will. Jesus has proved Himself worthy of that trust – even when it came to the ultimate, He said, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” Perfect submission to authority qualified Him to exercise authority. You recall in Revelation John had a vision of a scroll unfolding all יְהוָה’s judgements, but it was sealed, with seals a bit like we have seen. John was upset because no one had the authority to open the scroll, then [Revelation 5:9 they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.]. Why is Jesus worthy to have the authority to unleash His Father’s judgements? Because He was slain! He was so submitted to His Father’s will and not His own that He didn’t even shrink back from it when it meant His death! That perfect submission caused יְהוָה to say “My Son is worthy! I will delegate My authority to Him! He has shown that He will not abuse it, act on His own initiative. He will do only as I say. Jesus doesn’t act on His own ideas, His is a delegated rule, only doing what He has been delegated to do. [John 5:30 “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.] [Isaiah 11:1-5 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of יְהוָה will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of יְהוָה. And He will delight in the fear of יְהוָה, and He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear; but with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; and He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, and faithfulness the belt about His waist.] יְהוָה has given authority to Jesus, given Him the Kingdom, to rule on His behalf. [Daniel 7:13-14 “I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him. “And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed.] The Kingdom, the authority and the rule has been given to Jesus; so too has the right to judge, to carry out יְהוָה’s judgement [John 5:22-23 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honour the Son even as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent Him.] In fact all things have been handed over to the Son in whom He delights: [Matthew 11:27 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father.]
Chosen King: All nations and rulers align themselves against the LORD, kings with their armies, their horses and chariots – but יְהוָה will overthrow them all! Hallelujah! All their might will be seen for how puny it is beside the might of the LORD Almighty! He will throw them into such confusion that they will end up killing each other. Human dominion will be no more! Hallelujah! Then the Messiah, Jesus, will reign! His Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and His dominion endures throughout all generations! Hallelujah! After He has destroyed all rule and authority יְהוָה will set up His Davidic throne, the Messianic Kingdom. This is most assured – three times in this one verse (Hag 2:23) it says "declares יְהוָה"! יְהוָה has declared that He will most certainly accomplish this. His throne will be established over all and will endure forever!! Hallelujah! All glory, honour, and praise be to His supreme Name! This is יְהוָה’s doing! "I will take you ..."; "I will make you ...."; |"I have chosen you ...". (1) He will take him – He is His servant. יְהוָה will take him because he hasn’t exalted himself, like those that He has just overthrown, but has been יְהוָה’s servant. (2) He will make him like a signet ring – because he was humble and served, he will be exalted and given יְהוָה’s authority – to rule, administer, to make legally binding decrees – no longer the Mede and Persian’s governor but יְהוָה’s governor! Why does Jesus carry יְהוָה’s signet ring? (3) This will be done to Zerubbabel (Jesus) because יְהוָה has chosen Him [P] – this is what he is appointed and predestined for (cf. Isaiah 41:8-16 You are My servant, I have chosen; Isaiah 42:1-13 “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations. יְהוָה will go forth like a warrior, He will arouse His zeal like a man of war. He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail against His enemies.). This is what God the Father says concerning Jesus [Luke 9:35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!”] God’s chosen Servant will reign with all of יְהוָה’s authority. Zerubbabel’s and David’s Son: Jesus Christ the Son of God! Maranatha! Thy Kingdom come! In Haggai’s day they were building the temple, יְהוָה’s house out of stone, there is a living temple that is being built of living stone, founded on Jesus the Living stone [1 Peter 2:4-8 the living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice (chosen) and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: “Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, (Jesus is the chosen One – chosen to rule with His Father’s authority and on His behalf) a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone, and, a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.] You either submit to the rule of the King, find your refuge in Him by believing in Him, or you oppose Him and are destroyed [Psalm 2:10-12 Now therefore, show discernment; take warning. Worship יְהוָה with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!] You encounter either the kindness of God or His severity – it all depends on your response to His chosen King, His signet, the One ruling on his behalf with His full authority. We are living in troubled times, and more troubles will yet come. Where do you find security amidst it all? Safety and security are not to be found in man’s solutions, in his rule; but in Jesus Christ, Him ruling with the authority of יְהוָה, administering His rule on His behalf – only when we submit to the King do we find perfect peace and security, a safety that is unshakeable no matter what may come our way. He is our refuge. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!