Our first reading today is a segment of the prophecy of Haggai who prophesied in Jerusalem in 520 B.C. Let’s set the stage for Haggai.
In 530 B.C. the seventy years of the Jew’s captivity in Babylon ended with Cyrus, emperor of Persia, freeing them, and sending them back to build the temple in Jerusalem. On their return, they were met by Samaritans and other skilful Gentiles who offered to help build the temple. On thinking it over, both the high priest Jeshua and Zerubbabel the descendant of Jerusalem’s last king, declined the offer, saying the Gentiles might lead Jewish young people astray.
Having turned down the offer of skilled help the Jews found they lacked the know-how to build the temple. They gave up, sinking into despondency. At that time God raised up two prophets to egg the people on to work. Today and tomorrow we will read how Haggai prodded them. Saturday, Monday and Tuesday we will read the words of Haggai’s companion, Zechariah. He too would assure them that God will be with their efforts if they go out and find suitable trees and good building stones.
These reading can be telling us that if we have good work to do, God will work with us. You might need to take to yourself the Lord’s encouraging words in Chapter Twelve of the “Letter to the Hebrews.”
Strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.