By Horatius Bonar
"In this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts." -- Haggai 2:9
IT is to something still future that this whole passage refers. Thus Paul expounds it, "Now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven" (Heb. 12:26). There was a shaking at Sinai; there is yet to be a greater and more universal shaking; there is to be the removal of the things that are shaken, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain; and out of these shakings and removings, the successive dissolutions of the four Gentile monarchies, there comes the kingdom that cannot be moved, the "everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, the kingdom which shall not be destroyed" (Dan. 7:14); the great "fifth monarchy" which shall stand forever. There is to be a more stable kingdom than earth has ever seen, under the sceptre of the righteous King. There is to be another Jerusalem, more firmly built than that of David and Solomon. There is to be another house more glorious than the temple of old. Both Israel and the church look for something more blessed, more excellent, and more enduring than eye has yet seen. For this it is that we must wait the advent of the great Melchizedek, with his "royal priesthood;" the arrival of the new heavens and earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. Then shall the words of our text be fulfilled, "In this place will I give peace." Here we learn, (1.) Man needs peace; (2.) Peace is the gift of the Lord of hosts; (3.) Peace is given in connection with Israel's house; (4.) Peace is to be specially given at the special time here predicted.
I. Man needs peace. He had it at first, but he flung away the pearl. Since then all has been trouble and variance. God and he are not at peace. His fellows and he are not at peace. Discord, war, confusion, hatred are everywhere. Yes; man needs peace; man's earth needs peace; creation needs peace; the animals that people man's earth need peace. Israel needs peace; Israel's land needs peace. There is a cry for peace, often unconscious and inarticulate, everywhere. The whole creation groaneth. It cries for rest. For unrest is the condition into which sin has brought man and man's earth, with all that it contains. "There is no peace." Yet man was made for peace; creation was made for peace. How sorely has this peace been needed! How deeply has the want of it been felt these many ages,--ages of unrest.
II. Peace is the gift of the Lord of hosts. One of God's special names is, "the God of peace." Man can break the peace, but cannot restore it. Peace seems a small thing; yet it is so great that only He whose name is "Jehovah of hosts" can give it. Man can neither make it nor purchase it. God must do both. "I create peace." "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you." It is the free gift of Omnipotence. It is the free gift of Him who, as the Lord of hosts, the Captain of Jehovah's hosts, has fought our fight, overthrown our enemies, wrought righteousness in our behalf, secured peace for us. At his birth, "peace on earth" was proclaimed. He went about as the peacemaker. He died to make peace by the blood of his cross. He is our peace, who hath made both one. For man, for Israel, for man's earth, for creation He has purchased peace; and this purchased peace He is yet to give. Glorious gift for a weary, unrestful world! Peace, peace, to him that is far off, and to him that is nigh. He gives it to his church now; he is ere long to give it to the whole earth.
III. Peace is given in connection with Israel's temple. The place of peace was strictly the altar. Here the pacification was accomplished, for here the propitiation was made. From the beginning the altar was set up, and the blood shed, in token of peace. Afterwards the altar was enclosed in a tabernacle, and again in a temple. From these came out the voice of peace from the Lord of hosts. Then He shewed Himself as the peacemaker. His peace was always in connection with his temple. No altar, no peace. No blood, no peace. These, of course, were symbols,--figures,--shadows of good things to come. In the fullness of time He came who is temple, and altar, and sacrifice, and peace,--all in one. He is our priest. He, as priest in his own house, gives peace. It is peace proceeding from himself as the Lord of hosts.
It is royal and priestly peace; peace flowing from the righteous removal of all that which had broken up our peace; peace which shall never again be broken, because its foundations are stable and divine; peace unchangeable and everlasting.
IV. Peace is to be specially given at the time and in the place here signified. Though peace has been secured, the work being done which pacifies,--not to be done again,--yet peace is as yet but partially given. A few here and there are reconciled to God; that is all. The world still remains without peace. There is still distance, variance, controversy between man and God. There is still tumult, and storm, and bitterness on earth. Man and man's earth, as a whole, are just what they were. But our text foretells a time when all shall be pacified. Then shall peace be universal on earth; peace in Israel's land; peace in Jerusalem; peace issuing from the house of the Lord of hosts. Creation shall have peace. The curse shall depart. Evil passions among men shall cease. The beasts of field and forest shall have peace. "The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid" (Isaiah 11:6). There shall be nothing to hurt nor to destroy in all the holy mountain. The centre and fountain- head of all this harmony, and love, and peace, shall be Salem the city of peace; and the house of Jehovah, the dwelling place. Living waters, waters of health and peace, shall go forth from Jerusalem; not only throughout the land, but to the ends of the earth. That city shall be earth's holy and blessed metropolis, from which all peace is to proceed. "In this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts." The Prince of peace, the true Solomon, shall be the giver and dispenser of that peace to a happy city, a happy land, a happy world, a happy race. What a scene of order, rest, holiness, and beauty, when Jesus reigns, and all things are put under him.
Thus then we preach,--
(1.) Peace. Not man's peace, nor man-made peace, nor church-made peace; but divine peace, God-made peace; the peace of God; peace from God; peace in God; peace from the God of peace. Receive the peace-proclaiming testimony,--the gospel of peace,--and be at peace.
(2.) Peace through Jesus Christ. It is from him that all peace proceeds. He is the peace-maker, the peace-purchaser, and the peace-giver. It is with him personally that we must deal in order to obtain it. Go to him for it. It is free. Take it from his hand.
(3.) Peace now. Yes; we preach a present peace; immediate and sure; without working or waiting; simply in believing God's testimony to the work which has made peace; to the blood which has secured the reconciliation; to the love which has done all we need.
(4.) Peace the earnest of a world-wide peace. As God is now giving peace to souls, so ere long is he to give it to the whole earth. And we accept our "peace in believing" as the earnest of a coming day of wider and more glorious peace. He who has given peace to us, will ere long give peace to the world. This is our hope, in the midst of convulsion, and war, and tempest. Come, O Prince of peace; set up thy kingdom of peace; reign in peace over this troubled world. Come, put on thy crown of peace. Earth has long been without thee, and without thy peace. Make haste; come thyself; and bring with thee thine everlasting peace.