Lesson 6: A Signet Ring of God Haggai 2:20-23
Shortly after being restored to their land from captivity, the people of Israel started to rebuild the Lord’s Temple. However, they soon turned their time and money to their homes and businesses. They left God’s Temple unfinished, and in poor condition. Israel thought that if they put their time and money into their homes and businesses they would be happy. But they were miserable. God and the work of His Kingdom were not first in their lives.
Because of their self-centered lives the Lord withheld His blessing. They worked hard but brought in little. What they did produce and bring in no longer satisfied them.
After 16 years of apathy, Israel was called to get right with God. Her only hope was for the people to confess their sin of neglect and show by their actions the sincerity of their confession by renewing their commitment to the work of God’s Kingdom.
But the renewed Temple was not to become a substitute for personal holiness. Holiness does not come having a nice building or by attending services. It comes from personal trust in the promises and work of our Lord.
Even though they had lived selfishly for 16 years, it was not too late. The Lord’s warning was a word of grace that called Israel to serious obedience. Though they had suffered for their disobedience in the past, their obedience brought spiritual revival and blessing among them.
On that same day, the 24th of the month, another message came through Haggai.
A great shaking was about to bring down the mighty nations.
Haggai 2:20-22, And again the word of the LORD came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying, “Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying: ‘ I will shake heaven and earth. I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms. I will overthrow the chariots And those who ride in them; The horses and their riders shall come down, Every one by the sword of his brother.’ “
Word of the Lord came through Haggai, but this time it was addressed to Governor Zerubbabel. The Scriptures call him a “Prince of Judah”. As the Son of Shealtiel, he is of the line of King David. He had been set up as King of Israel by Persia when the captive people were allowed to return to their own land.
Great political upheavals were about to take place. Back in chapter 2 verses 6-7 the Lord said, “Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,”
God was going to overthrow the chariots, riders and horses of the enemy nations. He would take down the sources of their pride, confidence, and worldly strength. Psalm 20:7 reminds us, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”
The nations will destroy one another. Each will be defeated by the other’s sword. God will turn them against one another. (This is also described in Ezekiel 38:21 and Zechariah 14:13.)
History shows that the nations did destroy one another. The Empires and Nations of that day are now gone. What remains of their names and territories are totally different nations. But one did survive, God’s Israel. But not the Country of Israel. She exists today as God’s covenant nation in the continuing church of Jesus Christ. As our Messiah, he continues to rule on the throne of King David.
God’s promise to His people, Israel, was not forgotten.
Haggai 2:23, “‘In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the LORD, ‘and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
Zerubbabel was to become a “signet ring.” The “Signet ring” was engraved with the owner’s name or a design to identify his authority. It was used to attest to the authority of royal messages who carried papers stamped by the image on the ring (see 1 Kings 21:8). It was also used to mark precious articles. It proved ownership. The signet ring was always carried by its owner and worn on the right hand (see Jeremiah 22:24). It was an inseparable and valuable possession. This is what God declared Zerubbabel to be.
God would preserve the Davidic line represented then in Zerubbabel. The signet ring is not a secret possession. It’s the outward sign of the authority of its owner. Through the presence of his Kingdom, God seals His work and testimony upon the world. God is the owner. The chosen line of David was his signet ring. God held the line of David as an inseparable possession. Through this line the work of redemption would be completed through Jesus Christ. Through this line the Kingdom would be established forever. It was God’s stamp of authority upon His work on earth.
This is why the Temple was so important. It represented the throne of God’s Kingdom on earth. It was a visible place where His Sovereign grace was made known. It was where His promised provision for sin was forshadowed in the sacrifices. God’s Covenant Nation under the leadership of Zerubbabel was the means by which God’s glory, majesty, and holiness were to be made known to the watching world.
This promise is Messianic in its primary fulfillment. (see 2:7). It wasn’t speaking of Zerubbabel as an individual, but of his office as King. Davidic Sovereignty will survive this shaking. Great nations will fall, little Judah will survive. Jesus was a descendant of Zerubbabel, a descendant of King David. Zerubbabel and his father Shealtiel are mentioned in both New Testament genealogies of Jesus (Matthew 1:12, Luke 3:27).
This Kingdom will be an eternal kingdom. The Bible makes this point very clear.
Daniel 2:44 “… the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.”
Luke 1:32-33 speaks of Jesus saying, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Hebrews 12:28 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”
This is why our work through the church is so important today. Christ is made known as head of the church, Lord of His Kingdom, and declared to be Sovereign over all the universe. Through the faithful churches redeeming grace is most openly and clearly proclaimed. It is where the finished provision for sin is taught to God’s people, who are then sent forth into the world as God’s agents to bring his teachings, warnings, and promises to the other nations.
God preserves His people because of only one thing:
Haggai 2:23, “‘… for I have chosen you,’ says the LORD of hosts.”
These are amazing words to end the messages of the Lord in this book. It stands as a confusing mystery to those who deny or who do not appreciate the doctrine of election.
Divine election is not some cold, harsh doctrine. It is not just a matter of debate between Calvinists and Arminians. It is the very center of how God deals with us. It is the proper motivation for holy living, and our foundation for hope and assurance. Election to eternal life is founded upon grace alone.
In the time of Haggai Israel had suffered lack of provisions and satisfaction because of national apathy and disrespect toward the God who had blessed them so much in the past. Why after such rebellion had they been preserved and called to return to lives of Kingdom service and personal holiness? Why was this nation being preserved while all other nations were destined to fall?
It was only because of the blessing of God to those who deserve nothing. Therefore it was by grace – God’s undeserved love for certain fallen sinners.
This is why God must be put first. Jesus came as the beloved, holy Son of God to take the curse of ungrateful sinners. He takes dead hearts and makes them alive. Because of God’s sovereign work of saving grace, we are not our own, we belong to Him.
Commitment to the true God of Scripture begins with a proper view of Grace. The good things God brings into our lives do not begin with our good hearts. He is the source of our every possession. He is the one who purchased us from the grips of evil through the death of Jesus the Christ. He is the one who calls us to follow Him as his redeemed people. He is the one who stirs our hearts to true faith, repentance, and obedience. He deserves our most humble and submissive gratitude.
He should always be first in our lives, so that we shine as a beacon pointing toward Him. God should never be relegated to a remote place in the heart to be visited now and then. To be content with that kind of occasional god, is to reject the God who really is. It’s not just the God of Abraham, Noah, Moses, David, Elijah, Haggai, John, Luke, Paul, and Peter.
Our culture often treats God as if he was more like a pet, there to lick our face when we need cheering up, excited to get our left overs, and left out of most of our lives. He should not be merely around our homes when we need things. He should be the Lord of our homes all the time and over everything in our lives. Jesus calls us to serve Him as our Living Savior, and Sovereign King. He is not looking for us to give him permission to be our part time inspiration.
Do you belong to Him? or do you just see him as your servant? It’s important to ask, “Is God first in my life? or does He just get the leftovers?”
For the wonderful grace He bestows through Christ, for the life we have because of His unconditional love, for the promise of eternal victory that is ours to enjoy even now, we are obligated and called to serve Him as He deserves.
If God is first, then our families will benefit far better than if we put our families first. Our self-centeredness will only bring dissatisfaction.
Those who depend upon their own ways will be brought down. Like the enemies of God’s Israel, we destroy one another by our prideful greed. Those who depend upon the Lord and and put him first will find the covenant blessings He has promised.
God must be our priority in all of life. Only then will our abundance become a blessing, and the Joy of the Lord will fill our lives again.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
(Bible quotations are from the New King James Version of the Bible unless otherwise noted.)