Day 269: The Day of Small Things
Ezra 5:1-17 With the encouragement of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, work resumed on the Temple under the new king, Darius of Persia. When the provincial governor confronted the Jews regarding the construction, the Jews explained that permission had been given by Cyrus years before and that the project had not been completed. The matter was then referred to Darius.
Ch 6:1-22 Darius found documentation of Cyrus’ permission to build the Temple and ordered that it might continue unhindered. The Second Temple was completed and dedicated, and a joyful Passover and Feast of the Unleavened Bread were celebrated once again in Jerusalem, and these restored feasts remained central to the Jewish religious calendar. These religious ceremonies are a type of the celebration of the Eucharist in the New Covenant (TYPOLOGY!!). (CCC 1334)
Zechariah 4:1-14 Olive trees represent peace, but here they also symbolize Zerubbabel, the Governor of Judah, and Joshua, the high priest, who was anointed with oil derived from olives. The golden lampstand represents the Chosen People, and the seven lamps represent the Lord. The gradual restoration of the Temple and of Judah brought increasing joy and peace.
Ch 4:14 Anointed: The ritual of anointing with oil was often used to consecrate a person to God for a sacred mission, particularly for kings, priests, and occasionally prophets. Jesus himself received an anointing from the Holy Spirit (cf. Lk 4:16-21) that gave him the fullness of kingship, priesthood, and prophecy; the Church anointing is used in several Sacraments: Baptism, Holy Orders, Confirmation, and Anointing of the Sick. (CCC 436)
Ch 5:1-4 The repentance and conversion of the Jewish people after returning from exile would lead to a pronounced level of holiness. The Law, represented by the huge scroll, separated sinners-exemplified here by a thief and a liar-from the community as a way of maintaining the moral integrity of the people. (CCC 2013-2015)
Ch 5:5-11 An ephah is a volume measure of around twenty liters, but in this particular ephah was large enough for a woman to fit inside. This woman represented an unfaithful Israel, and her inability to emerge from the ephah indicated God’s effort to keep sin in check.
Ch 6:1-8 In this eighth vision, chariots arrive to wage war on Judah’s enemies. The reference to the north country points to Babylon, whose defeat at the hands of the Persians allowed the exiled Jews to return to rebuild Judah.
Ch 6:9-15 In this oracle, it may not be immediately clear why Joshua, the high priest, was called “the Branch,” as he himself was not a descendant of David. Zerubbabel, a holy man, was Governor of Judah and the leading authority at that time. (CCC 436)
Proverbs 20:9 This verse about everyone being afflicted by sin is corroborated by John’s: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn 1:8). Paul reinforced this teaching: “None is righteous, no, not one” (Rom 3:9; cf. Ps 14:3). (CCC 401-402, 431)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
The Temple Rebuilt and Dedicated
Roused by the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah, the people resume work on the Temple during the reign of the Persian king Darius.
A Persian investigation into the legitimacy of the construction project, which could have threatened to halt its progress again, actually leads the king to uncover the forgotten decree of Cyrus.
Darius enforces his predecessor’s wishes and even exceeds them by providing financial support from his royal treasury and threatening capital punishment for anyone who refused to cooperate!
For the careful reader, this turn of events demonstrates the subtle way in which God, who had earlier “stirred up the spirit of Cyrus” (Ezr 1:1) to show favor to his people, continues to care for and protect those whose hearts are set on doing his will.
The Temple and the Senses of Scripture
The Catechism (Nos. 115-119) describes the ancient tradition that distinguishes the senses of Scripture: the literal sense is the foundation upon which the spiritual senses (allegorical, moral, and anagogical) build.
Following the image of the Temple through Scripture provides an example of how to discern these senses of Scripture.
The LITERAL SENSE is the meaning intended by the author of the sacred text.
Thus, the literal meaning of the Temple is the building itself that was built by King Solomon, destroyed by the Babylonians, and then rebuilt by Zerubbabel.
The SPIRITUAL SENSES reveal the signs to which the words and images of Scripture point.
For example, the ALLEGORICAL SENSE reveals their significance in Christ.
Jesus identifies his body as the new temple, when he says, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn 2:19), after which St. John confirms, “But he spoke of the temple of his body” (Jn 2:21).
The temple of the Old Covenant, which was the place of encounter with God, points forward to Jesus himself, who is the true Temple in which is found the presence of God.
The MORAL SENSE sheds light on how the Christian is to live and act.
St. Paul says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God?” (1 Cor 6:19).
Just as the temple in Jerusalem was sacred and pure because of God’s presence, so, too, our bodies are to be kept sacred and pure because of the indwelling presence of the Holy Trinity that we receive in baptism.
The ANAGOGICAL SENSE highlights the eternal significance.
In the Book of Revelation, St. John describes the New Jerusalem as a temple; at the end of time, we will worship the Lord face to face for all eternity in this heavenly Jerusalem.
(Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
Proverbs are all great
Proverbs are all notable
Proverbs 20:11, “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, whether what he does is pure and right.”
Isn’t that the truth?
We can claim to believe X, Y, and Z
If we REALLY want to know what a person BELIEVES, we see how they ACT
We can say a person presents themselves as being VIRTUOUS
We can say a person presents themselves as being VICIOUS
How we get to know them, how we TRULY know what’s in a person’s heart….which of course we CAN’T...because no one can know what’s in a person’s heart FULLY
Anyway, what’s in our heart is most often REVEALED, most clearly REVEALED BY OUR ACTIONS
Oh and also by our words
Jesus says, “From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”
And also from the fullness of the heart, ONE ACTS
Our actions are often this incredible revelation, really, of what is in our hearts already
Onward to Ezra
In Ezra Ch 4, the building of the Temple was put on hold
In Ezra Ch 5, we have the Restoration of the Temple Resumed
This is where we have this incredible coming together of The Book of Ezra as well as The Book of Haggai and The Book of Zechariah
Ezra 5:1, “Now the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah…”
Basically, they were telling the people to GO START REBUILDING
The prophets of God were helping them
Of course, the people in charge had something to lose and basically say, “Who gave you permission to rebuild this structure?”
This is the beauty and genius
We already had Artaxerxes and Ahasuerus
They forgot about King Cyrus who wrote a letter when he sent the Jewish people back to their holy land
He sent them with very clear instructions
For those of you whose job is very detail oriented (and more examples given by Fr. Mike...I’m not going to type them all out because I’m trying to save your printers 😉)
(dude, he’s really going on with these metaphors 🤪)
This is the most amazing thing
As the rebuilding of the Temple and walls is challenged, how does King Darius know how to act?
The Jewish people say, “You know King Cyrus wrote down what we needed. He wrote down what his intention was in sending us back to Israel, back to Judah and Jerusalem.”
They were able to find the scroll in Ecbatana from King Cyrus that said, “Here is what I decree. Send them back and also PAY FOR ALL OF IT.”
If you hate the fact that you have to be stuck in the minutiae, etc. etc. etc.
THANKS BE TO GOD!!
Because this is bureaucracy at its finest
You have Babylon, Persia, and these kingdoms that had people that do the work that you do
This makes all the difference in the lives of the Jewish people
Because someone kept the records
Because someone filed them away
Because they were able to find that record
Because they were able to read it
Darius not only said, “Yup. Keep on rebuilding like Cyrus said. But also, we are going to fund this.”
WHAT AN INCREDIBLE GIFT!!
After it gets done, the Passover is celebrated
Ezra 6:22, “And they kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy; for the Lord had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”
WHAT AN AWESOME THING!
Tomorrow, Ezra is going to show up and do more stuff
He hasn’t really been part of the story yet
In Chapter 7 and beyond, he is going to make an appearance and help the people of Israel in a significant way
So Zechariah keeps having his visions
Today we got Fifth Vision: The Lampstand and Olive Trees
In this, THE BRANCH is meant to signify Zerubbabel, which is really difficult to say
One of the things that happens is in Zechariah 4:10, “For whoever has despised the small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel.”
It is very easy to get discouraged by what looks like no MOVEMENT IN OUR LIVES
It is REALLY EASY to get discouraged by thinking our lives are insignificant
It feels like day after day of stacking one little pebble on the next
And another metaphor 😉
It just seems like drudgery
It seems like we’re doing nothing
It seems like small things
WE DO NOT DESPISE THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS
AT SOME POINT WE REJOICE AND SHALL SEE THE PLUMMET IN THE HAND OF ZERUBBABEL
Because ALL THOSE SMALL MOVEMENTS…
Coming back to Jerusalem
Beginning to build your house
Beginning to build the Lord’s House
All these small things and it seems like nothing is happening
20 years later and there is no Temple yet
All of a sudden, here comes the Lord who raises up the branch, who raises up Zerubbabel
AND NOW YOU HAVE A TEMPLE
It’s an invitation for ALL OF US to NOT DESPISE THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS
TO NOT DESPISE THE FACT THAT MOST OF OUR LIVES ARE MADE UP OF SMALL THINGS
THAT IS JUST PRETTY REMARKABLE!!
Speaking of the BRANCH…
Zechariah Ch 6 has The Crown and the Branch
The exiles Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah take gold and silver and make a crown
You would think that you would set the crown on the head of Zerubbabel who was leading the people
Zechariah 6:11, “...set it upon the head of Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.”
Why would you do this?
You would not do this if you were not looking for a strictly human reason for doing this
You would do this if this was a PROPHECY OF JESUS!!
JESUS IS THE HIGH PRIEST!!
JESUS IS THE PRIEST OF PRIESTS WHO IS CROWNED AS KING AS WELL!!
So in crowning Joshua, the son of Jehozadak, we remember that the name Joshua is also the name of Yeshua which is ALSO THE NAME OF JESUS!!
So all these CONNECTIONS of this FORESHADOWING
THIS TYPE OF JESUS TO COME (TYPOLOGY!!)
THE GREAT KING WHO IS CROWNED!!
HE IS THE KING OF PEACE!!
HE IS THE LORD OF LORDS!!
HE IS THE GREAT HIGH PRIEST!!
On a human level, it makes sense to crown Zerubbabel
He is the one who did all this stuff
ON A SPIRITUAL LEVEL, GOD IS REVEALING SOMETHING BY CROWNING YESHUA, THE SON OF JEHOZADAK, WHO IS THE HIGH PRIEST
HE IS THE HIGH PRIEST WHO IS ALSO THE KING
JUST LIKE JESUS WHO IS THE HIGH PRIEST WHO IS ALSO THE KING!!
Neato feneato?! (Hmmm...that’s a new one...must be a Minnesota thing...spelling? 🤔)
WHAT A GIFT TO BE ABLE TO JOURNEY WITH YOU!!
We are so grateful for this community
Sometimes knowing that OTHER PEOPLE are listening helps you to PRESS PLAY and helps you to LISTEN and helps you LET THE WORD OF GOD WASH OVER YOU
Knowing that we all are joining him helps Fr. Mike
Without us, Fr. Mike may not have done this (I doubt that though, even if he did it just for one person he would still do it, I think 😉)
Fr. Mike thinks he would have gotten stuck back on Day 30 without us
Here we are on Day 269 GRATEFUL TO THE LORD AND GRATEFUL FOR EACH OTHER
SO LET’S PRAISE THE LORD AND PRAY TO GOD FOR EACH OTHER
PRAY FOR FR. MIKE
Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise and glory. Thank you so much for this day. Thank you for once again speaking to us through the prophet Zechariah as well as revealing to us your plan and your will through the writings of Ezra. We thank you and we give you...just give you our thanks, yeah we thank you and give you our thanks to be redundant. Because you are a good God and this day, every day we want to begin the day with praise. We want to begin our prayer whenever we approach you to let Judah go up first, to let praise go up first. Whether we are praying these words and letting your words speak to us at the beginning of the day, the middle of the day, or end of the day. No matter what time, Lord God, right now is the time to give you praise. So please, in the name of Jesus Christ your Son, receive our praise, receive our thanksgiving, and receive our very hearts in Jesus’ name. Amen.”