New birth

76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus

Sermon 72 - Haggai instills courage and faith in the rebuilding of the Temple.

July 1st, 1965

Received by Dr Samuels

Washington D.C.

 

I am here, Jesus.

Traditional Christians of many, many centuries have allowed their religion to become crystallized into molds no longer useful or satisfactory to the new conditions of life as they have been unfolding in recent times, and many are ready, or will be, inclined to hear the voice of the religion of the New Birth, which I, the Messiah of God, and messenger of the Almighty, am now bringing to earth again for the salvation of mankind.

Haggai was a true prophet because the voice of God told him that the exigencies of the times were more important than was mathematical exactitude, and that the faith and fate of the Jewish pioneers were more precious unto the Lord than numerical approximations, for these they were, and nothing more. And Haggai’s insight and his assurance that God was with him brought a great reversal in attitude - a miracle, so to speak - and the Temple was completed within a remarkably short period of three months.

Who, then, was this prophet Haggai, and what did he say that so inspired the disheartened dwellers of Jerusalem? To begin with, Haggai was a young lad who was born in Jerusalem and remembered the Temple in the days before its destruction. He was taken to Babylonia where he was raised as a tiller of the soil, but he was a great lover of the old prophets and a man strong in the faith of the Hebrew religion and in its civilization. When the call was made in 537 B.C. to return to Jerusalem, Haggai answered the appeal within a few years. Even at that time, a man over fifty years of age, Haggai endured all the hardships of that return to the sterile, wretched land he sought with such earnestness to bring back to productivity. He was not of the priestly class; rather was he of the world of the prophets, seeking spirit and life instead of form and formula. At the same time Haggai was endowed with a sense of order and felt that a leader under a descendant of David, Zerubbabel by name, would help reestablish the faith and spirituality of the people of Jerusalem. I shall speak of this presently.

The Book of Haggai is short; it contains four exhortations. The first of these urged the people to begin work immediately on the restoration of God’s Temple in Jerusalem. This was an appeal that took place in the sixth month (named Elul in the later Hebrew calendar) of Darius’ second year as King; therefore, in the autumn of 520 B.C. On the first day of this month Haggai went to the foundations of the Temple and there spoke to a gathering of people who were accustomed to visit there on the Sabbath and the new moon. The talk was designed to reach the ears of Zerubbabel, son of Shaltiel, governor of Judea, and those of Jeshua, the high priest, whose family dated back to the high priesthood of pre-exilic days. Zerubbabel was, of course, Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah (as found in Ezra 1: 8), grandson of Jehoiakim, the Hebrew king who was taken to Babylonia. Addressing these two as the secular and religious heads of the people, with a faithful audience, he flatly declared in the Name of God that the cause of their impoverishment and difficulties arose from neglect of, and indifference to, rebuilding God’s House for the Lord to dwell in. “Is it time for yourselves to dwell in your ceiling houses, while this house lieth waste?” (Haggai 1: 4). God’s favor would wait for the restoration of the Temple; the drought and scarcity were the visible manifestations of His displeasure at not being able to have His House in Jerusalem. Three weeks later, the two leaders and the people were cleaning up the debris, gathering wood from the hill- country and the material needed for the work, and undertook the restoration of the Temple, assured by Haggai that the Lord was with them. “I am with you, saith the Lord.” (Haggai 1: 13).

In Chapter 2, Haggai contends with another problem. Construction had gone on for about a month and the workers realized that the new Temple would be far inferior to the splendor of Solomon’s Temple. A few of the old people still remembered the magnificence of this structure before the destruction sixty-six years before. The discouraged builders needed a new stimulus, and Haggai, emphasizing that the Spirit of God was with them, declared that no fear need be had over lack of magnificence:

“For thus saith the Lord of Hosts, ‘Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth . . . . and I will shake all nations, and the choicest things of all nations shall come, and I shall fill this house with glory,’ saith the Lord of Hosts. ‘Mine is the silver and mine the gold, saith the Lord of Hosts.’”

(Haggai 2: 6 - 8).

Jesus of the Bible

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Master of the Celestial Heavens