The Prophet Haggai and The Temple of God

2nd Temple

Haggai (commemorated today by the Orthodox Church) prophesied about the Jerusalem Temple and its predicted restoration, yet his prophecy is understood by Christians traditionally in a spiritual sense for the Temple in Jerusalem will be destroyed by the Romans in 70AD. This event fed the Christian understanding that the Temple is spiritual and living and not a building or complex in a city on earth built with stone and mortar. Haggai said: 

Be strong, all you people of the land, declares the LORD. Work, for I am with you, declares the LORD of hosts, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt. My Spirit remains in your midst. Fear not. For thus says the LORD of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 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 2:4-9) 


Haggai understood God to be prophesying about the Jerusalem Temple. But prophecies are often enigmatic and their fulfillment sometimes takes place in unexpected ways. The prophets saw in part, or in a shadow and did not necessarily see clearly what God was revealing but were rather pointing out to the people to look more deeply into what God is doing for God does work in mysterious ways, even when God reveals what He is intending and doing. With the destruction of the Second Temple in 70AD, that building was not further glorified by God as might have been believed from Haggai’s prophecy. Christianity watching the events unfold came to understand these prophecies as having a spiritual meaning. St Paul claimed that Christians themselves (individually and collectively are the Temple – see for example 1 Corinthians 3:16-17). The Evangelist John says Christ in referring to the temple spoke of the temple of his body – in other words Christ spoke as if He was the temple (John 2:18-22).


Through history the Christians developed feasts referencing the Temple, but seeing both Christ and the Theotokos as having superseded the Temple (Feast of the Meeting of Christ in the Temple and the Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple). Perhaps even more jarring is Revelation 21:22 which reads: “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” Revelation makes numerous references to the temple, but in the end says that building known as the temple will be no more for God Himself and the Lamb are the temple in the eternal heaven and a building is no longer needed.