Epiphany 5

SERMON                                          5th EPHIPHANY                        FEBRUARY 2019

Text  Haggai 2:6-9  “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

            What’s the most important thing a new child needs? The child is hungry, of course, But food isn’t the most important. It is a new relationship with God. Born of sinful parents, spiritually he/she is at odds with God. That has to change. Parents are to witness to their children. It begins with Baptism and continues. --- For you who are older now, what is your greatest need? To stay in the proper relationship with God. Why? So, you can prosper now. But more importantly to have continued peace with God. A lack of that continued relationship can lead right now to loss of happiness, peace and even prosperity. You and I need The Peace the Lord Grants Us in This House. Otherwise, we will live in growing conflict with God. Our pastor and each of us need to bear witness to all this.

            Consider the Jewish people of our text. A small number of them returned from 70 years captivity in Babylonia. They were happy and sad at the same time. They were thankful to the Lord that they could return to their homeland. But most everything was in ruin. Their houses and property in shambles. The temple of their God, nothing but piles of wood and stone. The Lord thru their leaders urged them to rebuild. They worked on their houses so they had a place to eat and sleep. Then they turned to the temple and cleared away the wood and stones. They laid out the lines for the foundation. But then the worked on the temple slowed and stopped. The people became busy with their homes and their work. They didn’t take the time, they didn’t make the extra effort to work on God’s house. And this work on the church was not an easy task to finish. It would take a few years. You can read about this in the first several chapters of Ezra. ----Now, all of you understand about how it requires extra effort on our part to just come to church. Just think, church begins at nine and activities are still going on at 11:30 or later. You, who serve here quite a bit of time on church matters, or worked on the renovation of the parsonage, remember how it can claim many hours outside of our regular necessary activities. It is no easy task to serve. But the Lord almighty says, “I am with you”.  ---Back to our text & story.

            As I said the Jewish people failed to work on the temple. So, “the Lord almighty” sent his servant Haggai to speak to the people. “Get busy on the Lord’s house”. It is not right that you are busy beautifying your houses, working in your fields and cultivating crops but not working of the house of the Lord. Then the Lord also told them thru Haggai, this is why you have not prospered. “Because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.  I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”* The change in their everyday priorities brought conflict with God. They were not putting God first. So, their relationship with God was eroding. That resulted in not having prosperity in their daily life. --- You and I need the Lord Almighty right now, each and every day. You see, you and I as individuals are weak just like the Jews in our text. We don’t have a lot of power nor wealth. They were subject to the Persian government which could cause them problems. We are subject to our government with rules and regulations which can harm our cause. The Samaritans caused problems for the Jews. Others today slander us because we stick to biblical teachings. The Jews were subject to the weather and so are we, both needing God’s goodness to provide good weather.  So, we always need God’s blessings. We need the Lord almighty!

 The Word of God, spoken by his witness Haggai, brought immediate results. The people knew it was God speaking to them. Very soon they began again to work on the temple. As they did, the Lord began a conversation with them thru the prophet. He said, “From this day on I will bless you.” Then he asked a question, “Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong, …’ Be strong, all you people of the land,’ ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’ Do you see the awesome blessing the Lord can bestow on those who listen to him and put him first?

            Now, the Lord answers his own question concerning the new reconstructed temple. He says, “I will fill this house with glory.” “The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty.” From a purely earthly viewpoint this was not going to be true. In fact, the people who remembered the old temple cried when they saw how simple and plain the new temple would be. But God told them why they should not cry but rejoice concerning this temple they were building. “I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come.” God controls the gold and silver. When temples for him are built, some are larger and costlier than others. But that it is not what is important. What is important is that Jesus is there. Jesus never set foot in the old temple built by Salomon. But he would sit and teach in this new temple. The very Son of God would physically enter and honor the place with his teachings. ---Where Jesus is, there also are forgiveness of sins and thus peace with God. In our text the Lord Almighty says, “And in this place I will grant peace.”

            Now, let us look at our temple. This church building is not as grand some others. You will find little gold or silver here. But that does not matter. Is the almighty God here? Yes, and that is what matters. Do we hear of the forgiveness of sins here? Yes, that is what matters! Does the almighty God grant us peace in this his house? Yes, and that is what matters. And you know why. If he grants us peace, he has shown us mercy through Jesus. He forgives us here all our sins. Especially, he forgives us for wrongly putting other things first. He forgives us all sins for our Delight, Jesus lived, died and rose again for us.

            In our busy lives, let us not forget this lesson. Let us always put God first and all the other necessary things in life will be given us. And bear witness to this, especially to one another. If you know someone who lately has been lax in coming to God’s house. Tell them they need the peace God grants in this house. Tell others in your own extended family that God offers peace and the best life. Bear witness to the world at work and wherever you are that here God grants peace. When you see a person being baptized, see God working peace. Experience peace with God at the Lord’s table. Jesus’ body and blood are given for you! For You!  Pastor, like Haggai, speaking for God, says to you and me Depart in PEACE. Your sins are forgiven. At the end of the service the Lord God says one last time that HE looks on you with his favor and gives you his peace.

This is an absolutely necessary blessing we have to have in life and at death. And because it is, let’s tell others about it. After all, the Lord saw to it that you have his peace! Through you now he wants others to have the same peace with him.  Amen.

           

           

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