The Second Oracle of Haggai   Leave a comment

Above:  Haggai

Image in the Public Domain

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READING HAGGAI-FIRST ZECHARIAH, PART IV

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Haggai 2:1-9

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Many of the priests and Levites and heads of families, who were old enough to have seen the former house, wept and wailed aloud when they saw the foundation of this house were laid, while many others shouted for joy at the tops of their voices.  The people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the weeping and the wailing, so great was the shout which the people were raising, and the sound could be heard a long way off.

–Ezra 3:12-14, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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But [the shouts] of the priests, Levites, and heads of families who were old enough to have seen the former house came to the building of this house with cries of lamentation.  Though many were shouting and sounding the trumpets loudly for joy–so loudly as to be heard from afar–the people could not hear the trumpets for the noise of lamentation.

–1 Esdras 5:63-65, The Revised English Bible (1989)

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The Second Temple, again under construction, was not going to be as large and impressive as the First Temple, destroyed in 586 B.C.E.  (See 1 Kings 5:1-6:38; 1 Kings 7:13-51; 2 Chronicles 2:1-4, 22.)  In Jerusalem, on October 17, 520 B.C.E., the question in many anxious minds was:

Will the Second Temple be good enough?

God answered affirmatively.  Also, God was with the people building the Second Temple.  That temple would be good enough because God would make it so.  God would fill the Second Temple (built on a more modest budget) with wealth and splendor acquired by the divine “shaking” of the nations.  The Second Temple was to be grander than the First Temple.

Jerusalem, October 17, 520 B.C.E.–the seventh day of Sukkot, the Festival of Booths (Leviticus 23:33-36, 39-43; Numbers 29:12-38).  The festival, eight days long, was rich with meaning.  It, a harvest festival, celebrated divine, sustaining care.  Sukkot also commemorated the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant into the First Temple, as well as the dedication of the First Temple (1 Kings 8:1-13, 62-66; 2 Chronicles 5:2-7:22).  Furthermore, the festival commemorated the divine liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and their dwelling in boots as they traveled to Sinai (Leviticus 23:42-43).  The festival of Sukkot, 520 B.C.E., was replete with meaning.

Compared to God, all human beings and efforts are subpar and inadequate.  That does not mean that we should do nothing, of course.  No, we ought to trust in God and do our best–collectively and individually–for God’s glory.  God will take care of the rest.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 12, 2021 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS JASON OF TARSUS AND SOSIPATER OF ICONIUM, COWORKERS OF SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE AND EVANGELISTS OF CORFU

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