Signposts, 10th November, 2013: Haggai.1:15b-2:9; Ps.145:1-5,17-21; 2 Thess.2:1-5,13-17;
It seemed nice to know that it was two thousand five hundred and sixty three* years, 10 months and 10 days ago that Haggai was told to tell the people of Jerusalem that the “proper” Chief Priest and his team had been brought back to rebuild the Temple. But they only looked after their own home comfort, and everything went wrong. Even the wage-earners put their pay into a bag, only to find it had a hole in the bottom!
Our piece has of Haggai was passing on Jahweh’s message that if only the whole congregation would put the right things first, they would do better, and have a better temple than the old one. The book is well worth reading in one lot from 1:1 to 2:23, to get the whole picture. I don’t remember reading anything from Haggai before, but I was delighted to read it all when I started to fiddle about to put the little bit we’ll hear in church into the picture.
King Cyrus of Persia was putting right as far as he could, what the bad king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, had done (2 Chronicles 36:22,23), and the Jerusalem end of this process is what Haggai was observing; you’ll find a reference to him at Ezra 5:1. I poked about to find the very honourable title the Jews gave to King Cyrus (and the Jewish Christians to Jesus) but couldn’t find it. If any one reading this can give the book, chapter and verse number, I’d be grateful if they could press the reply button and help me.
I noticed that Paul had signed the second letter to the Thessalonians, and it gave me a feeling of closeness similar to that I got from knowing “to the day” how long ago Haggai had put some selfish Hebrew priests right. I wondered whether we had any other of Paul’s letters signed by him. They are 1 Corinthians and Colossians. I expected to find it on Galatians, but that one is so fierce it just had to be Paul. Romans ends with the signature of his secretary, Tertius. The last three verses of Romans feel so friendly that you feel that you are just there with them.
It’s interesting that Luke and Matthew treat differently the story of the seven brothers and one wife in Mark. All three have Jesus ignoring the Sadducees denying eternal life. All three have the seven husbands (ha-ha, according to Deuteronomy 25:5). Then Mark and Matthew have them as angels. Luke has them sorted out and judged worthy in the world of resurrection (try Philippians 3:11), turned into angels, and has a nice polite end.**
*Approximately – there was some muddle in counting the numbers at the beginning of what we now call C.E., formerly A.D.
**It would be interesting to put the three versions along side, and contrast between the three writer’s details. It was long past bed-time when I wrote, so had to have a hand written draft for Margaret to type before she got off to Whangarei for shopping, and I must get off to another job just now, cheerio!