Friday, September 28, 2007

Haggai the prophet

I was really struck by the fact that both yesterday and today had similar readings from this prophet. Yesterday dealt entirely with encouraging the Jewish People to rebuild the temple after their Babylonian Exile and today was meant to encourage them to continue the great rebuilding project.

Both readings were meant to encourage the people to keep building despite frustrations. Yesterday, the frustration was that they wondered if it was worth it. Is it worth rebuilding because

"You have sown much, but have brought in little;
you have eaten, but have not been satisfied;
You have drunk, but have not been exhilarated;
have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed;
And whoever earned wages
earned them for a bag with holes in it."

Translation: You built houses and had a great living and then it was torn asunder by the Babylonians. You probably feel like a failure.

Solution: You should build the house of the Lord so that God will be on your side as you rebuild your house. Worry about God before you worry about yourself.

Then, today, people are looking around and realizing things aren't in their former glory. The Temple, especially, is nowhere close to where Solomon intended it.

"Who is left among you
that saw this house in its former glory?
And how do you see it now?
Does it not seem like nothing in your eyes?"

Haggai reminds the people that God owned all the gold and silver that made that building in the first place. The real treasure in it is the glory of the Lord, the divine presence (Hebrew Shekinah) that will be there.

God wants, in both readings, to encourage his people not to give up when things seem hopeless. We all need to hear this and hear God say this to us.

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