Our Old Testament reading this week is from Haggai, that obscure book stuck back there between Zephaniah and Zechariah near the end of your Old Testament. Aside from the obvious purpose to challenge the prodigious OT pronunciation skills of our lay reader Amanda Borden, one can be forgiven for wondering why this passage is here. The short answer is that it embodies hope and future glory.
We will dwell on this more during the season of advent, but there’s a 50-cent word that comes into play here – eschatology – by which we mean study of the end times and with it the four essentials of death, judgment, heaven, and hell. We could choose to view this passage through eschatological eyes, but that’s probably uncalled for. It’s more likely that Haggai’s call is very focused on the here and now. He is acting as a cheerleader for the reconstruction of the temple, and to seal the deal he dangles before a shattered, defeated people the prospect of riches greater than ever before. Yeah, this is just a tad scary.
Fortunately, Haggai is more than a shill for the local building contractors. His is in the final analysis a healing message of hope and encouragement. What healing and encouragement do you need to hear, and do you hear it in these words?