Haggai 2:9 isn’t predicting a future physical temple to be built at some point in Jerusalem in the end times. The words of the Lord in that verse are about what Christ would accomplish in himself and with his church. The word of the Lord told Haggai’s contemporaries that something greater than their temple was coming. And Jesus of Nazareth told his generation, “Something greater than the temple is here.”
Weighing in at only two chapters, the book of Haggai is underappreciated among the prophetic books. But this book contains expectations about the future that have to do with Christ and his church.
A Rebuilt Temple
In approximately 520 BC, Haggai and Zechariah ministered to reinvigorate the complacent Israelites. The Israelites had attended to their paneled houses while leaving the temple of God in ruins. The reason for the ruined temple was the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Now, more than a generation later, the temple should have been fully rebuilt by those who returned from exile. Yet decades passed without the temple being completed.
Haggai told them the word of the Lord: “Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified” (Hag. 1:8).
The rebuilt temple, however, was less impressive than the former temple under Solomon. The Solomonic temple had been a work of grandeur and beauty. The rebuilt temple was not like this.
The word of the Lord addressed the people, “Who is left among you who saw this house in its former glory? How do you see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes?” (Hag. 2:3).
The “former glory” referred to the first temple, the one Solomon built. The rebuilt temple in the days of Haggai was inferior to it. Their present temple was not as glorious as in the days of David’s son.
But the present state of things wouldn’t last forever. God said, “I will fill this house with glory” (Hag. 2:7). A temple being filled with God’s glory is reminiscent of earlier texts, as when the glory of God filled the tabernacle (Exod. 40:34) and also Solomon’s temple (1 Kgs. 8:10–11). Interestingly, in the days of Haggai there was no report that the glory of God filled the rebuilt temple. God simply says, “I will fill this house with glory” (Hag. 2:7). But when?
According to Haggai 2:9, “The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the LORD of hosts.” Now ponder that promise. The Lord is speaking of future glory, future temple glory. And this future glory would be greater than not just their present disappointing temple but greater than the former glorious temple in Solomon’s day.