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Archive for the ‘Haggai’ Category

Haggai 1:15b-2:9

2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

1. Way In

During high school and college years I worked at Bill’s London Transit

There were several stores in Huntsville, AL

one was at Parkway City Mall, it was the newest store

mall built on the site of the shopping center that was flattened by a tornado in April 1974

same year as the Xenia, OH tornado?

The old shopping center was a strip center with a covered walkway on the front

The mall was quite elegant – several “flagship stores”

fountains, restaurants, plants

shop indoors, and there were exercise walkers

typical for malls now, but real cutting edge stuff in late 1970s

There were some who liked the old shopping center better

the mall was too big, impersonal, antiseptic

We don’t always think the “new and improved” is much of an improvement

anything around here like that?

schools, shopping centers, neighborhoods?

we’re not alone in this thinking – it’s nothing new

take Solomon’s temple for example …

2. Tell The Story

Background-capsule history

Solomon, King David’s son, 900 years before Christ

built the temple in Jerusalem

stood for over 300 years

destroyed by Nebuchadrezzer in 586

After Babylonian exile, Jews returned to Jerusalem

built Second Temple on the site of the 1st Temple, 6th Cent., BC

Second Temple refurbished, expanded by Herod in 1st Cent. AD

Destroyed by Romans in 70AD, never to be rebuilt

saw a shop in Jerusalem with a scale model of the 2nd Temple in the window

Sign: “Pre Third Temple Sale, Buy Now Before it’s Too Late”

Haggai speaking to people looking at the 2nd Temple, the “New Temple,” built in the 6th Cent. BC

they were saying it’s not as nice as the one before

looking over the 2nd Temple when he said, “Who remembers how this place used to be? Does this one look as fine as the old Temple?

“You’re saying ‘it is as nothing to you.”

Then he says, “But take courage,”

… Governor Zerubbabel, … High Priest Joshua, … people of the land

“Take courage, says the Lord…

for I am with you

I made you a promise when I led you out of Egypt

My Spirit still lives among you. Do not be afraid

Later on, this place will be even more spectacular than the old one

Once again … In a little while

God’s time

God reminds Israel about his promise over 700 years ago

coming out of Egypt

as Haggai stands before the people,

work is just starting on the 2nd temple

… some 500 years before the 2nd temple would be refurbished by Herod – 1st cent. AD

so we’re talking about over 1,000 years

“in a little while”

This is in God’s time, not theirs

but God says, “Do not fear. I am with you.”

In a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth …

… the sea and dry land

I will shake the nations

and I will fill this house with splendor

the silver is mine and the gold is mine

The splendor to come will be so much more than what was before

and in this place I will give prosperity

3. So What

God spoke to Israel through the prophet Haggai, and God speaks to us

Everything in the world belongs to God

even the treasures stored up and locked away

and God still has the power to shake the earth and the sea

and even our best efforts at holding on cannot keep the treasures out of the hand of God

even the splendor to come in Jerusalem is temporal

the majestic Second Temple, completed under Ezra and Nehemiah

then enhanced and expanded by Herod in the 1st cent. AD

… was destroyed

could it be that the splendor God spoke of was something besides the building?

something God was way more invested in that the stones and sweat that built the Temple?

“Stand firm and hold fast,” says Paul hundreds of years later (in the letter to the Thessalonians)

by this time, false teaching and confusion was afoot

in the newly formed church, at the time of the apostles

some were saying that Messiah had returned and they missed it

but Paul told them not to be swayed or pulled away from these

you are the first fruits of the kingdom

the first ones to know salvation through Jesus Christ

so stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that we taught you

you learned in Jesus Christ

So we should not be discouraged

When our church, our community seems different than it was

the Kingdom of Heaven is not derailed by the shortcomings of humankind

God will restore the world

in God’s own time

remember, in Haggai God says “in a little while I will …

shake the heavens and earth, the sea and dry land

I will fill this house with splendor

House?

is God talking about the Temple?

the Second Temple was bigger than Solomon’s T.

Herod expanded it some 500 years later

The Romans destroyed it in 70AD

and it hasn’t been rebuilt – yet

is God talking about the people?

the “House of Israel” can mean the people (Exo.16:31)

and their fortunes have been mixed over history

but history reveals that the temple restoration and expansion took over 500 years

and then after that it was destroyed

then it’s been almost 2,000 years

and that Temple still isn’t rebuilt

Clearly – God’s time is not our time

and God’s plan are not our plans

and God’s plans do not depend on …

whether the people understand them

or agree with them

In the meanwhile, God’s people are to live as God teaches

remembering the traditions we were taught

Paul says, “by us either by word of mouth or by letter”

that is; the teachings of the Apostles

which are the teachings of Jesus Christ

the Living Word of God

the fulfillment of the law and the prophets

in other words, all we need to know

and these traditions are not the same ones that we create

the scriptures don’t mean that we hang on to all of our traditions – just the ones that Jesus teaches

love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, might

love our enemies

feed the hungry, clothe the naked

look after widows and orphans

make disciples of all nations

share all things as others are in need

other traditions, the ones we make up …

may make us feel secure

and they can be good

but when we find these traditions bind us:

keep us from the work God calls us to …

we must set them aside

so that no one stumbles

or gets closed out

The people of God have always been witnesses to great changes

God has always been at work in the world

… reconciling and restoring

so we shouldn’t be concerned

with what God’s timetable is for us

or even what the details of what God’s plans are

and it certainly makes no difference whether we agree with God

Rather our response, as the people of God:

is to live lives of grateful response to God’s grace in Jesus Christ

we honor God by living as God’s Word teaches

not trying to take it apart with our obfuscations

rather living simply…

as God calls us to community with one another

for it is written:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and might, and love your neighbor as yourself.

So may it be with us. Amen

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32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

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