Haggai 2:20-23 Zerubbabel: The Chosen Servant
Haggai preached his last sermon on the same day he preached his third sermon. In the third sermon he used an example from the priesthood to illustrate God’s coming blessing. Now he turns his attention to throne. Zerubbabel was the governor of Judah. At this time they could not have kings because of their servitude to the Persians. In this section Haggai begins to sound like Isaiah and some of the other pre-exilic prophets. God tells Zerubbabel that the day is coming when he will shake the nations. (2:21-22) Like Sodom and Gomorrah they will be overthrown. Like Pharaoh and his army in Exodus 14 their chariots and riders will “come down.” Haggai sees a great and mighty day of the Lord. Other prophets saw similar visions of God’s coming Kingdom. (Isaiah 13, Joel 1:15, 2:1, Zephaniah 1:7) Haggai himself has already mentioned this shaking in his second sermon. (2:7) Then Haggai goes on to tell Zerubbabel that he is God’s servant and his chosen one. (2:23) The term servant is seen primarily in the prophecies of Isaiah. Isaiah also puts “servant” and “chosen one” side by side several times. (Isaiah 41:8, 42:1, and 44:1-2).
Obviously, Zerubbabel was not the promised servant from Isaiah. He did not usher in the Kingdom, but instead like David and Hezekiah and Josiah before him he pointed to the coming King who would rule over the nations with a rod of iron. As Calvin says, “There is no doubt but he[Haggai] points to Christ in the person of Zerubbabel.”
What is also interesting is that in Jeremiah 22:24 the Lord says that he rejects Coniah, Zerubbabel’s grandfather, and that even if he was a signet ring on God’s own hand, he would tear him off. Here the sentence is reversed. Zerubbabel, the rejected one’s grandson, becomes a signet ring
The purpose of this sermon was the same as the previous sermons; strengthening the hands of those who were working in the land and rebuilding the temple. Zerubbabel was nothing like King David. His kingdom was nothing like Solomon’s kingdom. Though they were still allowed to return to the land, Israel was not their own people or nation. They were subjects of Persia. Yet God gives them this astounding promise. His Kingdom is coming. He will put all nations under His feet. For those who returned to the land this must have been a source of great encouragement and hope. Five years later they finished the temple.
• We must remember that we live in the midst of the promised Kingdom. We so easily take for granted what God has given to us in Christ. All the prophets spoke of Him and pointed to Him. All the sacrifices gave us Christ in shadow. All of the kings gave us glimpses of the coming Messiah. All of the Law unfolds the character of the One who would fulfill it. All these things we have and more. Yet we yawn and fall into our easy chairs. Oh, how Zerubbabel would have delighted to see Christ’s rule in China and America and Brazil! How he would have loved to see the Roman Empire in the dust, but the Empire of Christ marching on! Let us rejoice that what the prophets saw from afar, we see close up. And “let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:28-29)
• When God wanted to strengthen and encourage his people what did he do? He did not send a miracle worker. He did not do great and mighty signs from heaven. He did not send angels. He sent them preachers. Haggai was a not a great man in the eyes of the world. He was not preaching to a great and mighty people. Anyone who stumbled upon Israel when she returned to the land would not have been impressed by her outward glory. But Haggai had God’s Word and he gave it to the people. These people believed God’s Word and finished the work he had for them. Let us not despise the word preached. Let us not look down upon the humble outward appearance of those ministers who appear in pulpits across the land. When a minister opens up Scripture he is speaking for the King of heaven and earth. Let us hear that word and believe and finish the work God has for us.