Oracle Two

Bible Text: Haggai 2:1-9 | Preacher: Rev.M. | Series: reCONSTRUCTION: A Study of Priorities from the Prophet Haggai | Today we are continuing in our current sermon series, “reCONSTRUCTION: A Study of Priorities from the Prophet Haggai”. During this series, we are going to be looking at the prophecies of Haggai, a well-known prophet of the people of Israel. As I mentioned last week, one of the primary questions that this prophecy of Haggai brings is “What is most important?” Last week we looked at the first oracle that focused on God calling the people to rebuild the temple. This morning, we are going to be looking at Oracle Two.

 

Now Oracle One was dated to August 29, 520 B.C. Oracle Two is dated to October 17, 520 B.C.  So that would be about 49 days later that Oracle One. In the first Oracle, we had five sections that included the Introduction, the Excuses and Rebuke, the Evidence of Covenant Curses, the Command for Reconstruction, and the Obedience. In Oracle Two, there are only three sections: the Introduction found in verses one and two, the Glory Comparison found in verses three through five, and the Promise of Future Glory and Peace in verses six through nine.

 

So, beginning with the Introduction we read, “On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the Lord’s word came through Haggai the prophet: Say to Judah’s governor Zerubbabel, Shealtiel’s son, and to the chief priest Joshua, Jehozadak’s son, and to the rest of the people:” Here again just like with the Introduction in Oracle One, we have a wonderful example of an introduction paragraph that most English teachers would be proud of. We have our subjects again clearly identified: Judah’s governor, the chief priest, and the rest of the people. And we also are told what is going on, that the Lord’s word came through Haggai.

 

From there we go to the second section of this oracle, the “Glory Comparison”, that we find in verses three through five. From there we read, “Who among you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Doesn’t it appear as nothing to you? So now, be strong, Zerubbabel, says the Lord. Be strong, High Priest Joshua, Jehozadak’s son, and be strong, all you people of the land, says the Lord. Work, for I am with you, says the Lord of heavenly forces. As with our agreement when you came out of Egypt, my spirit stands in your midst. Don’t fear.”

 

It begins with asking if any of them were around when the temple still stood, back before the exile. It also asks how it looks now compared to back then and points out that it probably looks like nothing at all given its current structural state. The former temple was very much one of glory and prominence. We are talking about the Lord’s house, the great temple of the Lord. It was one of the crowning pieces of architecture in the entire kingdom.

 

But then comes words of encouragement! Be strong governor! Be strong high priest! Be strong, all you people of the land! And Haggai tells the people that God wants them to work, specifically we are still talking about on rebuilding the temple here, but to work and that “the Lord of heavenly forces” is with them. He even reminds them of another example from the past of how God was always with them when he references their “agreement” when he helped them to escape Egypt. He then furthers points out that just like then, his spirit still stands in their midst, and not to fear.

 

And now we come to the “Promise of Future Glory and Peace” that we find in the third and final section of the second oracle, comprised of verses six through nine. There we read, “This is what the Lord of heavenly forces says: In just a little while, I will make the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the dry land quake. I will make all the nations quake. The wealth of all the nations will come. I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of heavenly forces. The silver and the gold belong to me, says the Lord of heavenly forces. This house will be more glorious than its predecessor, says the Lord of heavenly forces. I will provide prosperity in this place, says the Lord of heavenly forces.”

 

So, after ending the previous section that commands the people to rebuild the temple and telling them not to fear, here we have Haggai sharing the word of the Lord that has a true and clear focus on good things to come. God shares with them, through Haggai, that he has great plans for them and the temple. Haggai talks about God making the heavens, the earth, the sea, the dry land, and even the nations quake. And with that quake God will fill the temple with glory.

 

He even goes so far as to say that with that quake the wealth of all the nations will come as well, all the silver and gold, which belong to the Lord in the first place. Haggai continues in telling them that this temple that they are to build will be even more glorious than the one before it that was destroyed. And God will provide prosperity where they are. You must admit, this all sounds surprisingly good for the people hearing it.

 

And it is a bit of a contrast compared to the first oracle. In the first oracle, we heard about covenant curses and all of the bad things that was going on because of the breaking of the covenant by the people. This oracle, these prophecies all talk about the good things that are to come. The wealth coming, the glory that will be returned to the temple. This oracle is definitely one of encouragement and meant to be uplifting to the audience, these remnants of the people of Israel.

 

Now with keeping all of thing in mind I want you to take a few moments to think about a few things. First, have you ever been awestruck by something like a mountain or maybe a building and how did you feel? I remember feeling awestruck many times during my visit to the Holy Land, both for the man-made buildings and the creations of the Lord. Second, how is God telling you to “take courage” and do you maybe need to step out in faith?

 

Third, what difference would it make if you were constantly aware that God was with you? This one is sometimes hard for people to deal with. We do not often consider that God is always with us. If we did, I think there is a fairly good chance that we might act a little different, at least in certain situations. Maybe we would be a little more courteous to others. Maybe we would have more patience for others. Maybe we would show more love towards others.

 

Fourth, what do you fear most? What is the thing in life, whether physical or emotional or however it manifests itself, but what is that thing that you fear most? For some people, it is being alone. For others is might be failure. For some people, it is spiders. But then think about how being more aware of God’s abiding spirit might help to dispel that fear in your life? Would it make you braver? More confident? Stronger? Or even just feeling more loved and accepted.

 

Now last week I gave you a challenge about the spiritual discipline of prayer, and I hope you took some time for that tried some new things for your prayer life. This week though, I want you to look at the spiritual discipline of silence and solitude. Silence and solitude are pretty much near the top of the endangered list in our culture these days. Do you remember the last time you had a moment of silence and solitude? Maybe during the middle of the night, but I would guess rarely during the day.

 

But the fact of the matter is that God created us for rest and for quiet. This is actually one of the original intentions of the commanded Sabbath law. In our world today, these disciplines may be even more important. Silence and solitude are not intended as an end in themselves though. They actually cooperate with the other spiritual disciplines of meditation and prayer by creating space for the Holy Spirit to do the work that the Spirit can do – the work of spiritual reconstruction.

 

Spiritual reconstruction is something that we all need. It doesn’t matter how much we pray or do anything else; we all have areas that can be added to, strengthened, or improved on. You know, I have noticed that it seems God likes to whisper. But to hear those whispers, we must be quiet. Not all of the time necessarily, after all there is spiritual evidence that God encourages us to play and to worship with loud sound. But there are times that we all need some silence and solitude. I encourage you to make an effort to experiment with this spiritual discipline this week.

 

So, as I close this message, I would like to leave you with the words found in the sixteenth and seventeenth verses in our reading from second Thessalonians. “Our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and a good hope. May he encourage your hearts and give you strength in every good thing you do or say.” Go and work towards your spiritual reconstruction. Amen.