Ezra 5:1-2 & 6:14-17
This is a synopsis, or quick review, of the sermon for March 20, 2022. I am only hitting the highlights of the message, not reproducing the entire sermon.
Our Scripture Reading this morning will begin in Haggai 1:1-9, then Ezra 5:1-2, then 6:13-18. You will find Haggai, a two-chapter book, at the end of the Old Testament just before Zachariah & Malachi.
We left the “Jews” in a state of discouragement. They have returned to their land and begun to rebuild the Temple, when the neighboring cities arose to oppose the project. The opposition was finally able to drag the project to a complete stop when Emperor Cambyses Artaxerxes delivered a “stop work” order. Then the neighbors imposing the order by force” (Ezra 4:23), which may have included tearing down some of what was built.
The Jews have been “beat down” and discouraged. Now almost a decade has gone by (see chart from last week). The Jews continue farming and exporting their wine & olive oil. They are apparently not “making it rich,” but at least they are allowed to worship in the Temple site. And as time passes, they take up fixing up their own homes, but give little thought to rebuilding the Temple. “We tried that once, and it did not work. Now, let’s be content with what we have and live our lives in peace.”
But then God raises up from the exiles a prophet-preacher named Haggai. God has laid on Haggai a message to the Jews to get back on track, and build the Temple. The people were saying, “The time has not come to rebuild the Lord’s house” (Hag 1:2). But the prophet counters, that the time had come. He points out that the Jews were living in paneled homes. In Ezra’s day, homes were made of mud & straw bricks, maybe fired, maybe sun dried. The bricks were mortared into walls. Then the insides walls were “stuccoed” with mud to seal the inside from water or wind. After the house was a few years old, and the walls had settled, the inside was subdivided by panels making multiple rooms. The Jews had built paneled walls for their homes, yet no progress had been made on Gods House in years.
Haggai calls of the people to build the House of the Lord. He does so at the right time, the sixth month, equivalent to late November early December. This was the “farmers down time.” He calls on them to go take trees in the forest and make timbers to finish the Temple of the Lord (Hag 1:8).
Haggai pointed out how the Jews were struggling materially in the land. He points out that God was “rewarding” them for their lackadaisical attitude towards Him, shown by their lack of concern for His house. They were working but had little to show for it. Sometimes, not aways, lack of material blessing might be because of our lack of concern for God’s work. God promises blessings for those who do his bidding. And Haggai trumpets that refrain.
Governor Zerubbabel and High Priest Joshua and all the leaders, and the people responded positively to Haggai’s sermon, and the work on the Temple began again in earnest (Hag 1:12-15 & Ezra 5:2).
We see the end result in Ezra 6:14-17. The Temple was completed in he sixth year of Darius. That was four years of work, by people who were volunteering “extra time” to do God’s work, in a time before power tools and “steel chained” cranes.
Great rejoicing followed as they dedicated the building to God. What “projects” for God are we doing as individuals, or families, or as Vets Chapel? Have we gotten discouraged and lackadaisical about them? Is it all a humdrum carrying on as always? Are we suffering from God “lack of blessing” because of our attitude? Is it maybe time for us to pick up and begin with renewed energy to build the Kingdom of God as He directs us to do so?
God Bless each of you,
CH Jim Odell