The Second Jewish Temple. Model in the Israel Museum.
After decades in captivity, the Jews were finally authorized to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their city and the temple. As recorded in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, the work moved slowly at first, but “through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo,… they builded, and finished [the temple], according to the commandment of the God of Israel” (Ezra 6:14). This week, we will study the writings of these two prophets.
Haggai and Zechariah had very different teaching styles. Haggai favored the direct admonition, much like the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob. (See Jacob 2:9-10.) Zechariah described visions rich with symbolism, similar to Lehi’s dream. (See 1 Nephi 8.) But both emphasized the importance of the temple as a place to draw closer to God, and both prophesied of the coming of Jesus Christ.
The Temple: “Holiness unto the Lord”
“Consider your ways,” said Haggai to the people of Jerusalem. “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?” (Haggai 1:4-5). He urged the people to prioritize the building of the temple, and he promised that they would draw closer to God as they built it. (See Haggai 1:13.)
Zechariah prophesied that “the BRANCH” (the Messiah) would preside over the building of the temple (Zechariah 6:12-13). Ultimately, the growth that we experience through temple worship comes because of Jesus Christ, so He is the ultimate temple-builder.
Zechariah also prophesied of a time when the words “HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD” would be pervasive in Jerusalem. (See Zechariah 14:20-21.) That phrase had been engraved on the mitre worn by the high priests in the ancient temple (Exodus 28:36-39, Exodus 39:30-31), and it is inscribed near the entrance of of every temple built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (See “Inside Temples,” on churchofjesuschrist.org.) This reminds us that the temple is a holy place and that it helps us become more holy.
Here are a couple of blog posts about the role of temples in bringing us closer to God:
Prophecies of Jesus Christ
Haggai prophesied that God will “shake the heavens, and the earth” and that “the desire of all nations shall come” (Haggai 2:6-7). The New King James Version of the Bible capitalizes that phrase (“Desire of All Nations”), indicating that this phrase is a reference to the Messiah. (See Haggai 2:6-7 NKJV on biblehub.com.)
Zechariah shared several prophecies relating to Jesus Christ:
- He testified that the King of the Jews would be lowly, and would arrive “riding upon an ass” (Zechariah 9:9). In the final week of His life, the Savior entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey. (See Matthew 21:1-5.)
- He spoke of being sold for “thirty pieces of silver” (the price of a slave: see Exodus 21:32) and of casting the money to the potter (Zechariah 11:11-13). Judas Iscariot betrayed the Savior for thirty pieces of silver and was later buried in the potter’s field, a graveyard for the poor. (See Matthew 27:3-10.)
- He prophesied that the inhabitants of Jerusalem would one day “look upon [Him] whom they have pierced” and would “mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son” (Zechariah 12:10). They will ask Him, “What are these wounds in thine hands?” and He will answer, “Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zechariah 13:6).
Jacob taught that “None of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ” (Jacob 7:11). And Abinadi testified that “all the prophets who have prophesied ever since the world began” have spoken “concerning the coming of the Messiah” (Mosiah 13:33).
When the Savior visited the American continent following His death and resurrection, He introduced Himself as “Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world” (3 Nephi 11:10). It was important for His disciples to recognize that He was a fulfillment of prophecy. Here are two blog posts on that topic:
Blog Posts: December 6-10
“Consider Your Ways”
Sometimes we spend a lot of time and energy on activities which are not aligned with our goals and priorities. We can reduce that waste with a little self-reflection and self-discipline. “Consider your ways,” said the prophet Haggai to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough;…
It’s an uncomfortable feeling to wear filthy clothing, particularly on a formal occasion. Zechariah saw in a vision the high priest Joshua standing in front of an angel, “clothed with filthy garments” (Zechariah 3:1-3). The angel commanded the people with him to take away Joshua’s filthy clothing. He said, “Behold, I have caused thine iniquity…
The Desire of All Nations
Speaking on behalf of the Lord, Haggai prophesied: Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. Haggai 2:6-7 In the King James…
Fasting unto God
Have you ever done something that seemed altruistic, but you later realized it was actually pretty self-serving? Maybe you gave a compliment which indirectly made you look good. Or you gave a gift which allowed the recipient to serve you. After the Babylonian captivity, the Lord spoke to the people of Jerusalem through the prophet…
Prisoners of Hope
Captivity does not imply hopelessness. The prophet Zechariah proclaimed to his people, who had only recently been delivered from bondage, “Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope.” Then, he added a promise from the Lord: “even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee” (Zechariah 9:12). When Alma and his people were in bondage,…
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