We aren’t in Ezra anymore. We are taking a pit stop in the book of Haggai, which takes place in the same time frame as Ezra. We see Haggai mentioned at the beginning of chapter 5 in Ezra because if it wasn’t for him the work of the temple wouldn’t have gotten done. He was the push that the Jews needed.
We find ourselves in the middle.
Read Haggai. Yes, the whole book. All two chapters.
The Jews are back but they get comfortable. They have seemingly forgotten why they started this journey in the first place. Their comfort has blinded them and led them to apathy.
Chapter 1: 3 Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
Your comfort will blind you from the work that needs to be done.
Chapter 1: 5 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
This right here is a whole sermon. I have so many thoughts but wait there’s more…
Haggai get the people ALL THE WAY together and leaves them with this in chapter 2:
15 “‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on[b]—consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the Lord’s temple. 16 When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. 17 I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not return to me,’ declares the Lord. 18 ‘From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid. Give careful thought: 19 Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.
“‘From this day on I will bless you.’”
We are not getting the full fruit. When this country was founded promises were made. We are yet STILL in the middle. We haven’t made good on those promises for EVERYONE. In chapter 2 verse 15 when Haggai says “consider how thighs were,” that really gets me. We are tired in the middle because we forget how things were. The week George Floyd was murdered wasn’t that long ago. We have forgotten and this amnesia isn’t gonna let us get this fruit.
One of the things that we need in this fight for anti-racism is white and non-black allies. What’s hard about that is the fact that unless the world is on fire (aka George Floyd is murdered on camera for the world to see) then White people have the ability to be in their homes and living their lives in all their comfort. They then forget that there’s a problem. Their comfort blinds them. That’s a hard thing to fight.
When the Lord sends his word of rebuke He gives them all these analogies basically saying they’re washing their hands and wiping them on the ground (a Haitian proverb my grandmother would say). He was basically saying that there was more to be had. They are working in vain. There were holes in their system. MANNNN, if that’s not preaching to you, I don’t know what will.
At the end, he comes at them again and reminds them that before this work was done they weren’t experiencing the fullness of what God had for them. But he leaves them with this, “But from this day I will bless you.” HOPE.
What has comfort blinded you from?
What fullness is America missing out on by not fixing the holes in our system?
What is racism costing us? What is it costing White people? What is it costing non-Black people of color?
Being in the middle is hard. It is when we get tired. It is when we get apathetic. It’s when we get comfortable with where we are and stop doing the work. That’s what the Jews did. They got tired, comfortable and apathetic and lost sight of the goal. Let’s not do that.
One of the most crafty lies that racism tells us is that it is not costing White people anything. That they are better off this way. It’s clearly costing Black people their lives but what is it really costing White people? It is costing us all something.
The lie is so well crafted that we believe it.