Scene 2 - "The prophecy of the coming of Messiah and the question, despite, of what this may portend for the World"
5. Accompanied recitative (Bass)
Thus saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts; Yet once, a little while and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. (Haggai 2:6,7)
(Note: The end of Haggai 2:7 in italics is not in the libretto for the Messiah, but it makes the connection to the previous movement, "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed")
The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)
Haggai 2:6,7 and Malachi 3:1
Yesterday, we heard Isaiah's prophecy of comfort to Judah: that they would be taken into captivity but someday they would return and the glory of the Lord would be revealed and all flesh would see it together.
Judah did return. Jerusalem fell in 586 B.C., and the exiles were deported to Babylon. When Babylon was overthrown by Cyrus of Persia in 539, the exiles began their return to Jerusalem the next year. Temple construction began in 536, was halted in 530, resumed in 520 and was completed in 516. Sadly, the glory never did return to the temple. That was for a future time.
Both Haggai and Malachi were prophets during this "postexilic" (after the exile) period though many years apart.
During the hiatus in building the temple, Haggai prophesied on October 17, 520 B.C., the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. He told the exiles to quit building their homes and careers and get back to building the temple (See Ezra 4 post HERE). But they had mourned that Solomon's temple had been so much more glorious (Ezra 3:10-13). In connection with the glory being revealed from Isaiah 40:3, God promised that He would fill His temple with glory. As a result of his prophecy, temple work resumed just 23 days later.
The temple was completed in 516 B.C. Several years later, Malachi came along to confront the Jews in Jerusalem about their neglect of the temple and their false and profane worship exhorting them to go back to a a right relationship with God. He was a contemporary of Nehemiah who returned in 444 B.C. to build the wall around Jerusalem.
Malachi's name means "My messenger." This is appropriate since the name "LORD Almighty" occurs 20 times. Of the 55 verses, 47 are spoken by God - the largest proportion of all the prophets (85%).
Israel was acting as if they had no God to believe in or hope for. They questioned God's justice because the wicked prospered (Job 21:7-26; 24:1-17; Psalm 73:1-14; Ecclesiastes 8:14; Jeremiah 12:1-4; Habakkuk 1).
God points to a time of justice when He will send His messenger, whom Jesus explicitly identified as John the Baptist (Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 1:76), who will prepare the way (Isaiah 40:3; John 1:23) for the "messenger of the covenant." This is the Messiah, Jesus!
The new temple was never filled with God's glory, but Haggai 2:6-7 and Malachi 3:1 look to the time when the messenger of the covenant and the "desire of all nations" would come, and the glory of the Lord would fill the temple.
In Jewish tradition, "desire of all nations" was the messianic title of Christ. Look closely at the words of these two Advent carols (you might be singing them if you are applying my Advent suggestions from November):
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free
From our fears and sins release us
Let us find our rest in Thee
Israel's Strength and Consolation
Hope of all the earth Thou art
Dear Desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (4th stanza)
O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease
And be Thyself our King of peace
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel
Also look at the words to this often forgotten 4th stanza of this familiar carol:
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Come, Desire of nations come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Oh, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the new-born king;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!"
Hark! the herald angels sing,
"Glory to the New-born king!"
The "desire" was for "all" nations (peoples), not just for the Jews (Have I not been saying this from the beginning of the Bible Book Club?). Just as God had brought His glory into the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38) and Solomon's temple (1 Kings 8:2-11), He would bring His very presence in the form of a man, our Immanuel, "God with us." Jesus' ultimate reign will eventually shake all nations when He reigns in righteousness and peace. No human kingdom will stand in the wake of His reign (Matthew 24:29-30; Hebrews 12:26-27).
The Glory Story
"Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle" (Exodus 40:35). In this cloud was the "Shekinah glory" of God (see also Exodus 24:16). This comes from the Hebrew word shawkan which in the Qal tense means "to settle down to abide." The presence of God had "settled down to abide" in the tabernacle. In 1 Samuel 4 this abiding presence departed when the people and priests sinned against God. When Solomon dedicated the temple, this Shekinah glory came again to dwell (1 Kings 8:10-11), but their sins made it depart again (Ezekiel 8:4; 9:3; 10:4, 18; 11:23).
The Scarlet Thread of Redemption
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
God's glory returned in the person of Jesus Christ as a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of His people Israel (Luke 2:27,32).
After His death and resurrection, that glory has come to dwell in the body of believers in Jesus Christ!
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
Isn't that an awesome thought (and responsibility) to think that God's Shekinah glory dwells in you?
What are you going to do with this new revelation in your heart?
My "I WILL" is to take care of the body in which He dwells by taking a prayer walk in the sunshine; nourishing my physical body as well as my soul!
How can you reveal God's glory through your actions today?