Updated: Jan 31
In the reading today from the Book of Haggai, we heard God ask the post-exilic Jews, “Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory?” He then heard the questions, “How does it look to you now? Is it not in your sight as nothing?”
In the reading today from Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians, we heard Paul warn, “Let no one deceive you in any way,” especially those who come “declaring himself to be God.”
In the Gospel reading from Luke today, we hear the concept of resurrection mocked. The Sadducees, the keepers of the Temple, tried to trick Jesus with a widow being taken as wife by each of seven brothers, wanting to know who would be the widow’s heavenly husband. They did not believe in resurrection, although they had themselves been risen from the ashes of the Levites, as those reborn in the Second Temple of Jerusalem.
For them to present a scenario to Jesus about sterility and a lack of heirs as an example of no resurrection, could Jesus not have asked them, “Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? It was said to be ‘Nothing,’ are you not married to those who died, leaving no heirs?”
Have you ever heard the saying, “What goes around comes around.”? We are the present coming around of what has gone around before us.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.” As Christians, we are the continued fruit of those first fruits. For Christianity to continue onward, we have the responsibility of bearing fruits too.
Because those first Christians were called the first fruits, the people of the Second Temple would then be considered “wild grapes” or not those of the marriage between God and his chosen people. God’s chosen people are fertile, not barren. Paul said God chose Christians, after he had sent his son to be his bridegroom in that marriage. God is the Father with Jesus the husband and the church the wife.
The scenario painted by the Sadducees was of a church that had initially served God, until God died in that church’s view. It then married a Ba’al, then another, and another, until, finally, the church died when Jerusalem was overrun and the Temple of Solomon destroyed.
The Sadducees can then be seen as asking Jesus, in essence, who would be the rightful husband of the Jews upon the death of Judaism. Would it be ‘big “G” God or one of the other ‘little “g” gods?
Jesus answered that God is only the husband of a living church, not a dead one.
Therefore, Paul named the first Christians as the brides of God, in a new marriage, after the death of the old church. Since the old church had not yielded children that could sustain it as it was, it became married to churches of other varieties, serving different gods. Those who followed Jesus as their Messiah were the first fruits of a New Arrangement made in Heaven.
Because today’s issues are so often centered around our laws, which (believe it or not) are morally based – from a Judeo-Christian foundation of law – it is easy to see how one could be deceived into believing new laws are for the welfare of those of whom Jesus would approve. Jesus would think it was okay for Christians (those serving God in his name) to serve the poor of all faiths and beliefs, like a prostitute would serve any client coming through her door. We would think it was okay to serve those who openly admit their sins, but not to change, to receive the Holy Spirit, but through legal forgiveness … to receive the blessings of the State. Jesus would think it was okay to recognize marriage as an intentionally childless union.
Because we now see politicians as our new high priests, with our temple being the institutions of Washington D.C., we should understand that we bow down before the Sadducees, just as did the Jews of Roman Judea. We must be able to see how they were politicians, more than spiritual advisers, as the keepers of the Temple.
The Temple has already been rebuilt a third time.
With the fall of Jerusalem, the exile to Babylon was complete. King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple of Solomon, and with that death so too died the Levites. The Levites had been given no allotment of land by Joshua, due to their prior sins of Levi and Simeon, sons of Jacob. God was to be their inheritance, so the Levites were given the opportunity to serve God as those who maintained the Tabernacle, and then the Temple Solomon built. The Sadducees were not of Levite descent, but instead those who took it upon their selves to rekindle that role. As a result, they became the ones who immediately held a higher status than the rest of the common Jewish people.
Not only did they prepare the sacrifices for the feasts and festivals, and perform other ritualistic services, they acted as the politicians of those days. Jerusalem, after all, was a crown jewel city held by emperors. First, there were the Persians, who had freed them from their Babylonian captivity and financed the rebuilding of the temple, making it possible for the Sadducees to come to be. Then there were the Greeks, under Alexander the Great. That was followed by the Seleucid Empire, and then the Romans came into power over Palestine and Judea. So, the Jews stayed, each time marrying new husbands.
The Temple of Jerusalem was like Vatican City is – a city-state with political and ambassadorial links to governors and kings, as a powerless entity that commands an army of faithful, who are best kept content and peaceful.
The Temple has been rebuilt a third time.
The Sadducees were like the Senate in our government. The Pharisees were like the House of Representatives in this country. President Barack Obama [and all his brothers in that position] is like King Herod, with each state’s governor like Pilate. In the times of Jesus, there was a corrupt form of government, much like today in our country. The Second Temple of Jerusalem was the resurrection of its former self, resurrecting its final state as a corrupt form of government, that which led to its downfall. After Jesus died, as he predicted, the Second Temple was destroyed and the Sadducees died with it, presumably going to Sheol, since they did not believe in resurrection.
This is the meaning of today’s readings: DO NOT GO TO SHEOL!
GO TO HEAVEN INSTEAD!
Haggai tells us believers, “Take courage, all you people of the land; work, for I am with you.” Because the LORD’s “spirit abides among (us), do not fear.”
Politicians rise to power, not because they are truthful and capable of working miracles, but because they lie and promote fear.
Repeatedly, we hear them say, “Elect me because the other candidate will make your life a living hell!” “Elect me because the other candidate is a sinner greater than I!” “Elect me because the government is a satanic beast that will consume you, and I promise to single-handedly slay it for you!”
Haggai told the returning Jews, “In this place God will give prosperity.” But who is electing God to run the country?
Play it again, please.
Paul wrote how there would come the day when one will come who “opposes and exalts himself above ever so-called god or object of worship.” One who is better than religious beliefs. Paul continued that this one would be “declaring himself to be God,” but he will the “lawless one, the one destined for destruction.” That is a son of Satan, the one who tries to deceive us with words and letters, who tries to alarm us with fears, who tries to shake our minds away from spiritual links.
We place our faith in the hands of liars and cheats …
and we get what we deserve, because of that lost faith.
We are afraid to change our way of living, just as the Jews of the post-exilic period were. They were not filled with the Holy Spirit, so they could not know for sure that their leaders were leading them to another fruitless death. God sent His son, Jesus, so we would be able to protect ourselves from the same fate, because the Holy Spirit alerts us … like tweets from God on our high-tech phones.
A handheld god at your disposal.
“Don’t trust him. G”
“Ignore those lies. # OneGod”
“Stay calm and impeach everyone. The Boss”
We all want to stick our heads deep down into some nice, warm, comfortable sand, close our eyes, cover our ears, and chant, “Na na na na na na,” so we will not hear what we need to know. The world is going to hell in a hand basket and we just laze about and do nothing.
I don’t see anything.
Paul wrote about the return of Christ, saying, “That day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed.”
Haggai prophesied how God will, “shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land, and shake all the nations.”
If that happens in our lifetimes, will we be married to God in name only, with no fruits of our marriage to show? Will we be dead in spirit, so that God will not be our God?
Only you can answer those questions.