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Haggai prophesied in the years after the end of Judah's captivity to Babylon. The first major project was to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. This project actually prophesied of a greater temple that was yet to be built made of living stones.
Category - Bible Commentaries
In Haggai 2:8 God lays claim to both the gold and the silver. Prophetically speaking, this speaks of Babylon (the head of gold) and Medo-Persia (the arms of silver), as the second chapter of Daniel tells us. Just as God owns all the minerals that He created in the ground, so also does He own all the nations that He created.
There are multiple layers of meaning suggested in this prophecy. First, God owns the overcomers in a special way. The overcomers are being refined as gold and silver (Mal. 3:3) in order to make them His peculiar treasure—or “My own possession” (Mal. 3:17 NASB).
Secondly, by right of creation, God owns all that He has created. When men say that they “own” something, their rights are limited, because they are, in the end, just stewards of what God owns. When men treat their possessions as if they had unlimited rights, they set themselves up as gods and are guilty of usurping and misusing God’s possessions.
In Lev. 25:23 we read,
23 The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.
When the Israelites misused their inheritance in the land of Canaan, God exercised His right of ownership by sending them away and by giving His land to foreigners as it pleased Him. So in Jer. 27:5, 6 God tells Judah through the prophet,
5 I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight. 6 And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and I have given him also the wild animals [beasts] of the field to serve him.
When Israel and Judah turned away from God and His law, they began to live increasingly by the law of the jungle, where the survival of the fittest was the primary code of ethics and where the principle of “might makes right” determined the top rulers of society. Because Israel and Judah desired to live by this law of the jungle, God’s judgment, based on the “eye for eye” principle of equal justice, put Israel and Judah under the rule of “beast” nations.
This is why Daniel 7 pictures the four empires as beasts (lion, bear, leopard, and iron-toothed beast). It was as if God were turning the land back into a jungle. The chaos of Israel’s man-made law was replaced by the chaos of the man-made law of beasts.
Daniel 2, however, pictures those same beast nations in metallic terms (gold, silver, bronze, and iron) in order to give us further revelation from another perspective. Just as God owns all men and all beasts by right of creation, so also does He own the land itself, along with all natural resources.
In particular, He lays claim to the gold and the silver, but He really owns all of the minerals and has the right to do with them according to His will. Hence, He claims ownership of all these metallic nations.
The four metals in Daniel’s prophecy are mentioned also in the battle of Jericho, for God laid claim to them as spoils of war. Joshua 6:19 says,
19 But all the silver and gold and articles of bronze and iron are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.
Hence, the overthrow of Jericho is a type and shadow of the fall of Mystery Babylon, at which time all of the beast nations fall. The stone which crushes the image on its feet also grinds the entire image to powder, including its head of gold, arms of silver, belly of bronze, and legs of iron (Dan. 2:35). This event in our time is prefigured prophetically by Joshua’s conquest of Jericho. Therefore, when God lays claim to the metals in Joshua 6:19, He is really telling us that He owns all of the nations represented by these metals. In other words, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome “are holy to the Lord.”
The purpose of Joshua’s conquest was to put all things under the feet of Jesus (Yeshua, or Joshua). Nothing was to be lost, but all the nations were to be placed into God’s treasury and into the care of stewards.
Thus, God says through Haggai, “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine.” God had some concern about the misuse of natural resources, but more importantly, His concern was for the ungodly nations that acted as beasts, but who needed to be placed in God’s treasury for Kingdom use. Beasts are subdued; metals go into God’s treasury.
Further, the stewards of the Kingdom cannot do their job properly without knowing that God considers those nations to be valuable and demands that they be placed in His treasury. Unfortunately, many Christians have been taught that God will destroy those nations and that they will be lost forever. Such Christians play the role of Achan, who took some of the gold and silver and buried them in the ground.
By usurping God’s treasure for his own personal use, Achan was judged by the law for disobeying a direct command. He was stoned, and his body burned with fire (Joshua 7:25). Many other believers are like Achan, not wanting these beast/metallic nations to be placed in God’s treasury. Perhaps this is one reason why Paul says that many will be “saved yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:15).
In 2 Kings 6 we read how Elisha the prophet needed more housing for the school of prophets. 2 Kings 6:5-7 tells us what happened:
5 But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Alas, my master! For it was borrowed.” 6 Then the man of God said, “Where did it fall?” And when he showed him the place, he cut off a stick [ets, “tree, wood”], and threw it in there, and made the iron float. 7 And he said, “Take it up for yourself.” So he put out his hand and took it.
This story prophesies specifically of the fourth empire pictured by the “legs of iron” (Dan. 2:33). In Dan. 7:7 it is the fourth beast that has iron teeth. Elisha’s story shows how the iron axe head is recovered. When the prophet “cut a stick,” that is, a tree, and threw it into the water, it made the iron float so that it could be recovered.
A similar story is found in Exodus 15:25 when the Israelites encountered the bitter waters of Marah. Moses was shown a “tree” (ets), and when he cast it into the water, the bitter water was made sweet.
In both cases (Moses and Elisha), the tree represented the cross of Christ, by which the bitter waters of the heart are sweetened and by which also the iron kingdom is restored to the treasury of God. Both stories prophesy of the restoration of all things.
This is how the nations are restored and how Jesus Christ can lay claim to all the nations as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16). This is all implied in the law that grants ownership to those who labor, including God, who labored for six days to create all things. By this law, God lays claim to silver and gold in Hag. 2:8, and by the same law He claims to own Babylon and Persia, as well as Greece and Rome.
Gold and silver both represent money. By extension, they speak of economic systems, since we read in Lev. 27:16 that “a homer of barley seed [was valued in trade] at fifty shekels of silver.” (See my booklet, Biblical Money.)
So when God lays claim to silver and gold, He also claims the right to establish proper economic systems. The four beast nations have had their own economic laws.
In recent centuries men have devised various currencies which they call money. However, most of these currencies are fraudulent from a biblical perspective, because they are based on faith in Babylon, rather than in God. Likewise, these currencies tend to decrease in value over time, which is a way to steal a little money from the people each day.
Nonetheless, when the kings from the east overthrow the Babylonian west, God will use them to restore honest money that is asset-backed. This may take time, but as the nations learn the laws and the ways of God (Isaiah 2:3), they will make whatever adjustments are necessary to conform to God’s economic laws.