76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus
Sermon 71 - Haggai urges the rebuilding of the Temple.
July 1st, 1965
Received by Dr Samuels
I am here, Jesus.
The Third Isaiah had sought to encourage the return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple in the same way as his illustrious predecessor, the Second Isaiah: a miracle of God, through Cyrus, had given the Hebrew people the opportunity to leave Babylonia, land of their exile, and come back to the land granted them by their God, through an “acceptable year of the Lord,” who had forgiven the trespasses of His people and was setting them up as an example to the Gentiles.
However, between 537 B.C., when this event took place with the initial return of some of the people, and 520 B.C. when Haggai, and also Zechariah, spoke out for the rebuilding of the Temple, upheavals over a great area of the East gradually remolded the ideal of the Temple from a purely religious, into a religious-political image. The Temple must be the religious center, not of a small, isolated corner of the Persian empire, but of an independent Hebrew state of Israel.
The reasons for this change in thinking, as in the past, lay in the historical events of the time, wherein Darius Hystapes, the Persian king, had to put down rebellions all over his country, and subjected areas began to entertain thoughts of independence. It is noticeable in Hebrew prophecy that spokesmen for God arise most frequently when political disturbances, such as wars or rebellions in other areas, could be considered as affecting the situation in Israel, or the Hebrew people, whether in their homeland or in exile.
And thus it was that when the rumors of troubles for King Darius Hystapes reached the Hebrews, Haggai made known his appeal for the building of the Temple as the Word of God.
Haggai is the first of the three prophets, which include Zechariah and Malachi, who deals with the period of the restoration of the Temple, so that it became known as the Second, or Zerubbabel’s Temple, and lasted for hundreds of years, until, in fact, Herod began the construction of the new Temple of my day in 19 B.C., and brought it to completion, without the courts or adjoining buildings, by 9 B.C.
Between 537 and 520 B.C., little or nothing was done, the fifty thousand people who returned to Jerusalem being very much concerned with bringing the land to fertility. They were occupied with establishing a new foothold in the land, which continued to be poor and undesirable as compared to the productive lands of Babylonia, and in maintaining peace with the Samaritans, the people to the north of Judea, with whom some intermarriage was taking place, and who, because of certain questions of integration mainly, which separated them from the Jews, opposed the construction of the Second Temple. They obtained a ruling from the Persian monarch, bringing the work of construction to a halt.
With people impoverished, the difficulties many, frustrations and disappointments emphasizing the unfulfillment of the glorious prophecies of the previous prophets, additional hardships continued to plague them with drought and crop failures. In this soreness of distress, where hindrances from God seemed contrary to the promises of help He had assured them, so that they were in danger of losing their faith in the Lord, Haggai came to them with a message of explanation: God was not with them because His House had not been rebuilt. Let me also say that the extreme orthodox sect of the religion proved a discouraging factor in the will of the people to restore the Temple in that, very meticulous in their arguments, they sought to show that the time for restoration had not yet come.
They based this interpretation on Jeremiah’s statement of “seventy years” (Jeremiah 25: 12), which would have brought the earliest year of construction to the year 516 B.C. But if we consider as the ground for argument, King Jehoiakim’s surrender of Jerusalem in 597 B.C., and the following deportation of the Hebrew leaders, then the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy becomes the year 527 B.C. Regardless of which interpretation is correct, I must state that more important is the will to action and doing what is legitimate in the Sight of God, than sterile subtleties and dissipation of energy in the name of piety. God’s Word is eternal, therefore elastic, and covers all the ages of mankind unto the time when mankind may exist no longer on earth, but man must make interpretations that are applicable to and satisfy the new conditions, which constantly change with the generations.
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens