This Sermon is about the book of Haggai (or Megilla) Haggai is considered a minor prophet whose career as a prophet lasted only about five months from August until December in 520 B.C.E. Two decades, twenty years before the Persian King Cyrus over run the powerful Babylon and repatriated the Babylonian exiles that included the Hebrews. Who had been Prisoners and slaves in Babylon.
With return of the Hebrews to their land and homes it was all in ruins. The city of Jerusalem once known as only Salem. Looting the Holy Temple, the city built by King Solomon. (2 Chronicles 3: 1 – 7; 4:1 – 22; 5:1 – 14; 6: 1-42; 7: 1 – 16).
Haggai is sent by G-d to tell the people to rebuild His house, the Holy Temple now in ruins. Of course, much more had to be rebuilt. Their homes, shops, gardens to grow food, and, also their faith. Haggai wanted the people, former prisoners of Babylon to be bound together for the common good, rebuild their faith and restore the Temple and its services. It’s not an easy sell to a people who were victims of war. Taken prisoner and life in Babylon as prisoners, slaves had not been easy. Hard labor, some made into sex slaves and abused or broken people.
Haggai tells them if they will rebuild G-ds house that G-d will restore financial as well as other blessings upon them. Have faith, have trust! The Temple had been a center for worship and commercial business as you could buy skins to make clothing and coverings and food and it made loans and gave charity and provided jobs for many it was the commercial corporation of its day.
But, Haggai had to sell the idea to a conquered people who worried about everyday matters just as we do today. How can I buy food, clothing, obtain water, repair my house, provide for my family? They had the same worry then as we do today but had to start over with nothing.
Haggai had to sell the idea for the people to band together labor for free and use the hours of the day to work at a hard job. He did this by public talks, door to door, and talking person to person. After much work, many labor hours on Haggai himself with all his leg work and talking, pleading his case. He sells the idea.
The people; men, women, and children, family households all come together working hard and long hours to clean the rubble of over two decades, repair the Temple foundation and rebuild it.
But it only lasted about 3 weeks and the people started to quit; the protect not showing up to do the work. Haggai has to once again go door to door and pep-talk the people to return to labor on the Temple. Remind them what G-d had said He would do for them. It was not easy, it was hard labor. But if they would just show faith and have trust in G-d do what He had told them to do by His prophet Haggai it would all be ok and go well for them. Give up what they could rather be doing and do what G-d wanted them to do! He told them endure the hardships, show their faith in G-d by doing what He said do. Keep on laboring for free trusting G-d will reward them. They did and they rebuilt the Temple, G-ds house. We can see an example today of that time. Some who’ll keep Sabbath and some who will not.
G-d has said do no labor on Sabbath, yet some will because they don’t trust G-d will provide. It’s an old human problem. Just look at Exodus 16: 4 – 36. There are two commands about the about the
Sabbath (seventh day). Remember it is one and two to keep it Holy (Holy meaning special) G-d commands six days labor do all your work but on the Seventh day do no work! (Exodus 20: 8 -11). When you labor on the Sabbath you show to G-d and to all the people you do not trust God to protect your from harm or loss for obeying Him! You trust G-d to put food on your table, clothing on your back, and a roof over your head, and providing all the manna you’ll need (Exodus 16: 4 – 10)
Now for some people working on Sabbath is not only allowed but a good deed as well. Medical staff, first responders who protect people care for the old and sick. Of course, it would be better for them if they took pay for that day and gave it to charity showing their full faith in G-d to protect them from harm. Good deeds are always allowed if done for the right reasons. To serve G-d! Isaiah 58:13 sets out what you are to do on Sabbath. Isaiah 56:6 opens the door for anybody to join themselves to the L-rd to serve G-d! Only the children of Israel have a command to keep Sabbath! Yet just as in days of old some do not obey. We live in end times when people less and less obey G-d. When people think only of themselves their wants or needs. And Haggai had to face many of the same problems we have today. Isaiah 58:13 tells people to not do their own thing not even to talk their own words on Sabbath. They are to talk about what G-d has said. Jews are to labor in the Torah. But no labor is to be done on the sabbath so for 25 hours I recommend you do not open the first five books. You can study and should parts of the Talmud. You’ve a duty to read: “Pirke Avot” (Ethics of the fathers) If you’re Jewish. That you keep Sabbath Holy! It is a day of rest for everything. When people ask you why you can be a witness for G-d you’re obeying Him.