Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Daily Old Testament: Haggai 1-2 and My Own Article on "What DId I Say?" (Part 1)

Introduction: Haggai, another one of the twelve minor prophets, was active during the rebuilding of the second Temple. He began his ministry about 16 years after the return of the Jews to Jerusalem (c. 520 BC). The work on the Temple had been halted as a result of some conflict between the Samaritans and the Judeans, but thanks to prophets Haggai and Zechariah, the project got going again.

Haggai 1 – It is the year 520 – August of that year – the most precise date of any biblical writing. As long as the Temple of the Lord lies in ruins, nothing will go well.

“You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses” (1:9).

God will inspire the leaders and the people to get to work to rebuild the Temple. The high commissioner of Judah and the high priest listen to Haggai.

Haggai 2 – A little later in that same year, the Lord sends another message through prophet Haggai. “For Yahweh . . .says this: A little while now, and I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all the nations and the treasures of all the nations shall flow in, and I will fill this Temple with glory” (2:6-7).

From Leadings: A Catholic’s Journey Through Quakerism -
“What Did I Say?”
Part 1
Given the difficulties and questions that are inherent in the Quaker notion or doctrine of “continuing revelation”, difficulties I have discussed at some length, it is not lightly that I turn now to the insights I came to feel that God was opening in me. The famous Fox quotation Friends used to capture the spirit of what continuing revelation was about—“You will say Christ sayeth this, and the apostles say this; but what canst thou say?”—this was something I felt challenged by too.

What I came to see after some years as a believer and a Friend was that I was doing this same thing with the words and writings of early Friends that they criticized people for doing with the Scriptures. I was not paying as close attention or giving as much weight to the insights God was opening to me personally. What was it God was trying to open in me? What did I have to say about faith, about the redemption story I was part of, about the condition of the church, about the things God wanted us to deal with in our world—the kinds of things early Friends had been called upon to address in their day?

What ultimately got me to realize that I did have something to say was the teaching I had the opportunity to do beginning in 1985 and the encounter with Scripture that it forced me to. I was asked to take over the Quakerism course my husband had been teaching for a year or so in the Middle School of the Friends School where he worked. Nothing clarifies like teaching. No matter how much you thing you know about something, you never really know it until you learn to teach it—especially until you learn to teach it to the young. The point of the course was to teach seventh graders about the basic beliefs and values of Friends, such as why it was “unQuakerly” to be mean; why lying or cheating could easily get you expelled from the school; why we wanted students to dress simply and without eccentricity; why they were never ever permitted to wear army fatigues or military gear to school, even on Halloween; why we never permitted lotteries or chance drawings of any kind at school functions; why community service was such an important part of school life; and why we all sat in complete silence for thirty or forty minutes each week at the Meeting House on the off chance someone would have something to say “from the Spirit”.

Had I been asked to teach adults, I would no doubt have gone straight to the Quaker texts I loved and have quoted so extensively in these chapters. But my students were only twelve years old, and most had had little exposure to religion of any kind. They would never be able to understand Fox or Penington or Barclay—a lot of adult Quakers had trouble with the seventeenth-century English they used, not to mention their theology. Since all of Friends’ original beliefs and principles rested on biblical foundations, it made sense to use the Scriptures directly and to supplement them with my words to describe the way Friends had interpreted the critical texts. Something about just having to use my own words brought me into the concepts more, so that I really saw them in a clearer way.

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