Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The nations will be shaken; God's kingdom shall remain

The final prophecy of Haggai, in 2:20-23, peers ahead into the future. (Previous Haggai posts: one, two).

God had already explained that he would "shake the nations" (2:6). There would be political upheavals, and through them God would achieve his purposes. What, though, would become of little Judah during all this shaking? Their religion had survived in Babylon. Was this all they could hope for? What about the nation itself?

This prophecy was addressed to Zerubbabel the civil ruler alone - previous ones had been addressed to Joshua the High Priest too. Zerubbabel was addressed as the civil governor - the outward sign of the theocracy. God thus assured his people that the nation would remain. Amongst all the shakings of the nations, God's people would not be crushed or disintegrate amidst the chaos. On the contrary, the powers of the nations would be removed, whilst God's people would be drawn to him very closely, as a signet ring. No King takes liberties with his signet ring - it is the sign of his authority, and if it fell into bad hands disaster could result.

Zerubbabel was a chosen vessel. The wording of this prophecy is much more ambiguous than the other three, and leaves room open for exactly how it was to be interpreted. In the event, Zerubbabel never became a powerful ruler - indeed, that would have contradicted the prophecies God had already given through Daniel, in which he had explained the courses which the nations would take. Zerubbabel was chosen, as the New Testament shows us (Matthew 1), to be an ancestor of the Son of God in his human nature. The covenant made with David would succeed through Zerubbabel's line. The nations of the world would be shaken; God's Messiah would come and his kingdom will remain when all others are taken away.

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