Glory. That’s what makes the temple, the temple. Without God’s glory it’s really just another structure. Be it the portable tabernacle in the wilderness, built according to God’s specific instructions, or Solomon’s magnificent structure built and arrayed with seemingly unlimited resources, what makes the temple the house of God is His glory.
And as I read Haggai this morning, I’m reminded of the latter glory.
And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, 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 shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the LORD of hosts. (Haggai 2:7-9 ESV)
For those who had returned to rebuild the temple after the Babylonian exile, though the temple was taking shape, it really didn’t look like much. And so, it was easy to get discouraged and distracted. Easy to have their attention diverted to looking after their own houses rather than attending to God’s.
For those who had seen the house in its former glory, what they were piecing back together wasn’t looking anything like what once was. But what they were remembering and focusing on was the beauty of the structure. And while it might have been impressive and gold-covered, it was but the shell. And that is an empty glory, really, if the building isn’t filled with the presence of God. The glory is what makes the temple the temple.
And through the prophet’s message to the people to keep on attending to the house of God, a promise is given. A promise of a day when God will shake the heavens and the earth, when He will shake the nations and unlimited treasures will again be available for the structure. But more importantly, a day when He “will fill this house with glory” and “the latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former.”
The latter glory. That time when beyond the cloud that descended upon the tabernacle in the wilderness . . . and beyond the smoke of heaven that filled Solomon’s temple and ran everybody out . . . God Himself fills the temple in the person of the blessed Son.
A foreshadow of that glory was seen 2,000 years ago when Jesus, called Immanuel, God with us, was brought into the temple by His parents. Though most missed it, Simeon caught it,
” . . . for my eyes have seen Your salvation that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:30-32 ESV)
And while the glory resides today on the earth by His Spirit through the church, the company of the redeemed joined together, growing into a holy temple in the Lord . . . being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Eph. 2:21-22), many still miss it.
But a day is coming when Jesus will return to the temple. This time as King of kings and Lord of lords, and every knee will bow, “in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Php. 2:10-11). And the glory in its fullness shall return. And the latter glory will be greater than the former.
Might we live in anticipation of the latter glory . . .