Archives for posts with tag: haggai 2

Writing a weekly blog has turned out to be harder than what I thought. By the time I finish sermon preparation, I feel like I have already run out of “fresh” material to share, and if I give too much away about the message on Sunday morning, then maybe some will just skip church and “attend” the blog.

But this series on Haggai has stretched me. Every week I think I am facing the undaunted task of trying to make what appears to be the most obscure text in the entire Bible come alive to hearers in the 21st Century. And every week, against all odds, I feel like the Word has come alive, to me first, then to my hearers, hopefully.

Obviously, the messages we find in Haggai are only a very small sampling of what the entire messages as they were delivered to the first audience. So there are some gaps and critical pieces that we wish we had. Bible scholars strive to piece together the chronology of the events and the right sequences of the messages. In the end, no consensual narrative emerges, so we have to use our best judgment.

This week’s text, Haggai’s last message, is a good example of the kind of challenge faced by preachers who want to stay faithful to the text but not bore their audience to death. The message refers to events that will happen in the end of time. God says that once again he will “shake the nations.” In case we miss it, he says he will shake “heaven and earth.”

So we are not talking just about any ordinary shaking here. We are talking about the mother of all shakings, the kind of shaking the world has never once witnessed nor will it ever witness again. To give you an idea, God has given us a little teaser. It’s described in Exodus 19, the time God spoke directly to Moses on Mount Sinai. There was shock and awe everywhere. Everyone, including Moses, was absolutely terrified at the sight. The people begged God never  to do that again because they thought they were going to perish on the spot.

In the midst of some sobering news of impending doom; however, God does what God does best: He promises His people that they will be kept safe, if they continue to trust Him. He admonishes them to keep investing on the things that will last forever. And He assures them that their hope ultimately rides on the promise of the coming Messiah.

Well, guess what? The Messiah has come. We now await the unfolding of the rest of the story Meanwhile, we have work to do. Let’s make sure we focus on the job still remaining to help the Gospel advance to the ends of the earth.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

People everywhere have different customs and quirks about cleanliness. I remember when I was little, my grandmother, who lived in a small hut on the Amazon with no windows, no furniture, not even a bathroom, used to sweep the dirt ground around her house every afternoon. Also, though she only possessed a few pots and pans, they were always clean and spotless, shiny actually, as she proudly hang them from the ceiling of her humble kitchen.

People in the Old Testament lived with rules of cleanliness that had been stipulated by the Mosaic Law. There were rules about which foods were good to eat and which were not; which types of contacts caused one to be “unclean,” which animals were clean, which were unclean. There were rules about certain offerings that were consecrated to the Lord and how to handle them. There were rules about animals that could and could not be offered on the altar to God.

These rules almost always dealt with ceremonial, not moral purity, but they were related somehow. They all reminded the people of God that their God was Holy and He took the subject of purity very seriously. God had specific commands about purity which He specified in the books of Leviticus and Numbers. Some of those things have obviously lost their cultural significance, but God there is one thing that has not changed: God is still holy and He expects His people to be holy. We may not be required to wash before we pray anymore but “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2) is still true.

This weekend we will tackle a difficult passage from Haggai. It is difficult because in order to understand it you have to get into the laws of purification in the Old Testament. And people today don’t understand why all of those laws were necessary. God challenged His people to look at the core of their heart and stop thinking that just because they were busy with God’s work it meant that God should be blessing them. But instead, bad things were still happening to them and they didn’t know why.

Well, God straightened them out and told them that the reason He was not blessing them was that at the core of their heart was impurity. Therefore, everything that they touched was impure.

So we come to church on Sunday morning, but if we are harboring anger in our heart for something that another brother (maybe even a spouse) did, does that mean that God will look the other way when we pray that morning?

We faithfully give our tithing and offerings but we find every possible way to cheat the government when we do our taxes, does that mean that our gift, no matter the amount, is unacceptable to God?

We never miss one prayer meeting but if we can’t pray for our President because of his politics, does that mean our heart is not right with God? 

These are just questions that came to me, somewhat randomly, but I am sure you can come up with your own questions as you look at your life. Please look at your heart today and tomorrow, as you come to church. Use Psalm 139:23-24 as your guide: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

I trust you will be in church this Sunday. Bring a friend. You will not feel beaten down, even though the message will be hard. Instead, I believe that you will discover that like my grandmother, no matter your circumstances, you can get rid of the ugly stuff in your life that blocks access to God. I think will be full of hope, as God’s words will come alive in your heart and you will see that it is possible to get rid of old habits and break from the chains of the past. Come to the place of purity that only Christ can offer.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade