One would expect a book about the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple to end with the completion of the Temple. That is not how the Book of Haggai ends (Haggai 2:23). Instead, it focuses on a man named Zerubbabel.
We are given two significant pieces of information about Zerubbabel throughout the Book of Haggai. We are told he is the governor of Judah (Haggai 2:21), and we are told that he is the son of Shealtiel (Haggai 2:23). You would think the former piece of information, which conveys title and position, would be more important than the latter. However, in this case, lineage is more significant than position. As “son of Shealtiel,” Zerubbabel was a descendant of King David (1 Chronicles 3).
The Lord had promised David “offspring to succeed [him]” and to “establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13). But, when the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem, the Davidic Throne was suspended. Zerubbabel would never claim the title king. He would never be more than a governor, administering under the Persian authorities. However, he symbolically – and to a degree politically – represented the restoration of the Davidic line. It would be from this Zerubbabel that the Messiah would come (Matthew 1:12).
What does any of this have to do with the Temple rebuilding project of the Book of Haggai? In Jewish thought, Temple and Palace go together. While building the Temple under the rule of the Persian Empire, the Jews longed for the day when the Palace and David’s throne would be restored too. The Book of Haggai ends by looking beyond the horizon of the Temple work to a future time. Though the Jews of that time likely did not fathom how both Temple and Palace would be restored, that day has come in Jesus Christ. Christ fulfills the purpose of the Jewish Temple, by dwelling among us (John 1:14). Christ fulfills the promise to David, by being made King through the cross and awaiting the day when his enemies will be put under his feet (1 Corinthians 15:25). The stones the Jews were laying for the Temple surpassed their expectations, because they pointed to something far greater to come.
So, it is with us. The stones we lay down today for God’s kingdom have lasting power beyond what we could ever dream. The times you shared the good news, cared for the vulnerable, met meanness with kindness, or took the high road when the low road looked more pleasing will not be lost in heaven (cp. Matthew 6:19-20).