2Thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot: ‘This people say the time has not come—the time for the House of Adonai to be rebuilt.’”
The Name of God
This version of the Bible specifies the name of God used in various passages. In this passage it is Adonai-Tzva’ot or Lord of the Hosts (i.e., Armies). I think it is important to know which name is used because it helps us understand our Lord better. This comes from the Judaism 101 website which can explain it better than I:
Because a name represents the reputation of the thing named, a name should be treated with the same respect as the thing’s reputation. For this reason, God’s Names, in all of their forms, are treated with enormous respect and reverence in Judaism.*
What We Know & A Sneak Preview
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is telling his people he wants his house to be built.
Since the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is saying this, do you think it might be important? Is that all he is saying? What do you think his opinion of the people is? What should we be looking for in this passage ? How does it apply to us?
I looked ahead and I’m giving you a sneak preview.
These are the people who returned from exile in Babylon. I doubt they are the original people who returned from exile because we hear nothing about Ezra or Nehemiah in these passages. I think we can say that they have been in Judah for a while, since it sounds like they maybe have thriving businesses. Those who returned were, at first, very focused and intent on rebuilding Jerusalem and the Temple. As time distanced them from the original returnees, the urgency to rebuild waned. Making a living, building houses, supporting themselves – all this became their primary focus and the temple took a backseat.
Because God has been forced into a back seat, he is not happy. He has something to say about the spiritual condition of the people of Judah at that time, and he is using the temple as a point of contention around which to build the lesson he wants to teach them. But, we can also read this and take a take about our intention toward the Lord and our spiritual condition.
The people in this scripture have been making excuses for not building the temple – for not renewing it and committing their time to its care. Keep this point in mind as we go through this. But there’s more. There are probably three issues to look at here.
One issue is the temple; another issue is the people’s physical well-being and spiritual health; and the third issue is their attitude toward God.
Doesn’t the phrase “This people say …” sound like it was said with a bit of sarcasm? Isn’t it the kind of phrase used by an authority when someone has made a judgment when they have no right to do so. As I read this verse, that is the first thing I think about: The people can say (and believe) one thing, but God knows what He wants. It is not for the people to decide whether the time is right or not.
This is also a phrase that questions the priorities of the people. It doesn’t say it in so many words, but doesn’t it make you just a little uncomfortable – like a little niggling itch in the ear that you can’t scratch?
These people know that God wants His temple built, but they are ignoring His desire. Instead of focusing, even a bit, on what God wants, they are busy going to their own paneled homes, which speaks of very nice houses, while the temple lies in ruins. And that causes them other problems … .
Thank you for reading …
If you’d like, read the next couple verses and consider them and then head back this way to see if we agree on what it says.