A Pastoral Letter - 10 November 2019
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DELAY BUILDING GOD’S HOUSE
by Revd. Ivan EdelsonMy Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We don’t often spend time in reading, let alone understanding the great significance that there is in the words of the so called “Minor Prophets”. And yet as I read in Haggai today, I am moved to say it is a pity that there is currently no Prophet who is able to create the urgency that should exist in us, as Christians, to put aside our self-reliance and begin by rebuilding God’s House.
The reading tells us that the people of Israel had returned from exile in Babylon and had been living in Jerusalem for some years. They had begun to rebuild the Temple, but had been stopped by the rule of the Persians. Now, although there was no regulation prohibiting them from continuing the work, they became lazy and decided to focus on their own well-being.
When God saw this He placed their land under hardship. The sun scorched the crops, the heavens withheld their dew (rain). The people earned money, but as fast as they earned it, it was wasted and they did not increase their wealth. They put on clothes, but they were not warm. Everything they tried to do was doomed to failure!
And then I am drawn into the present and we ask ourselves why is our land experiencing the hardship that we now have? We are experiencing one of the most severe droughts ever. Our world’s weather conditions are topsy-turvy and we ask why? How many times have we come to church and prayed for rain, for an end to violence in our land, for an end to the deplorable conditions under which some people are forced to live? Why? Why? Why?
The Prophet Haggai has some words from God Almighty to say on this subject. In verse 5 Haggai prophesies “Give careful thought to your ways”
The Prophet continues with the message from God in verse 9 “Why? Declares the Lord Almighty. ‘Because of My house which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house”
Is there a solution? Of course there is. Our God is faithful and when people (we) turn aside from our selfish, self-centered ways, He will relent as He has always done in the past. Read the Old Testament if you don’t believe me.
Jesus, when He came, said: “ I have not come to change one word of the Law, I have come to fulfil it!”
Take heed of the words of the Prophet Haggai, because although he prophesied around 520BC, some 2540 years ago, his message is as relevant today as it was back then.
In verse 13, Haggai again tells the people of Israel “I am with you”. Jesus repeats these words in Matthew 28:18 - 20 just after He has given the Great Commission to each of us. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
To paraphrase the words of John F Kennedy in his inaugural speech “ Do not ask what your God can do for you, rather ask what you can do for your God”
Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ came to earth, taught us all we need to know, gave us direction for good Christian living, taught us to give generously of what we were given by God the Father, spent three years teaching, preaching, healing and bringing salvation to thousands, was brutally put to death on that Cross at Calgary, died, was buried, but most importantly was raised on the third day. It is this resurrection that stands at the very core of our faith and demands of us to do the very best that we can to build God’s Kingdom here on earth just as it is in Heaven.
Haggai prophesying the words of God says “Give careful thought to your ways”
Our country needs us, our province needs us, our city needs us, as Christians, to stand up for our faith and to proclaim that the Kingdom of God has come near. How you ask can we do this?
We do it by practicing what we preach and pray allegiance to each time we come to church. When we say the Nicene Creed, it demands of us that we act according to how we pray. When we say the “Our Father” Prayer, we ask God to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them, that trespass against us (my italics).
The Apostle Paul warns what happens if a church is divided. Christ warns of the same calamity.
As a united church of God in Christ Jesus, it is vital that we walk the walk that we talk.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, heed these words. “If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land”. (2 Corinthians 7:14)
May Almighty God, bless you and keep you always
In His loving Grace.
REVD. IVAN EDELSON
Date Added: 2019-11-09