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Don't Be Fooled By Appearances


Sermon shared by Jeff Strite

January 2007
Summary: The Israelites had returned from captivity to find their city and their temple in ruins. They rebuilt what they could, but they became despondant because they werenít wealthy enough to restore the temple to its former glory. However, God gave them insight
Audience: Believer adults
OPEN: An old farmer was about to die and he called his 2 sons to his bedside. He said, "Boys, my farm and the fields are yours. You each have equal shares. I leave you a little ready money, but the bulk of my wealth is hidden somewhere in the ground of the farm. Iím not sure anymore quite where it is, but itís not more than 18 inches from the surface.
In time, of course, the old man died, the sons inherited the farm. Not long afterwards they set to work digging up every inch of ground. But they failed to find any treasure. But since theyíd gone to all the trouble of turning the soil, they thought they might as well sow a crop - which they did, reaping a good harvest.
The following autumn as soon as they had an opportunity, they dug for the treasure again, but with no better results. As their fields were turned over more thoroughly than any others in the neighborhood, they reaped better harvests than anyone else.
Year after year, their search continuedÖ and year after year they gained a good crop.
It was only when they had grown older that they realized what their father had done.

APPLY: You reap what you sow - says God.
The Bible talks a lot about that kind of concept because thatís what a farmer does
∑ The farmer sows seed in a way exercises faith Ė a faith that that which he has sown will yield a crop.
∑ But the farmer will only get a crop if he works the ground and plants the seed.
∑ Itís the farmerís faithfulness to this concept that gains him success as a farmer.
You Reap What You Sow. Thatís what faith is all about.

Now, thatís all well and good in theory. But as I often say ďI never studied theory.Ē
Life is often about cold hard factsÖ and faith can be a hard thing to hang onto when life gets tough.

Our text this morning comes from the book written by a prophet named Haggai.
And Haggai is talking to a very discouraged nation.
Seventy years before, the Jewish nation had been dragged into exile because of their sin and disobedience. God had caused a mighty nation to come down and carry Judah into captivity, destroying Jerusalem and their beloved Temple.

Now, 70 years later (in accordance with the prophecy of Daniel) theyíve returned home. But their homecoming is a bittersweet experience. They return to a city that still lies in ruins and temple thatís barely stone upon stone. Now itís their job is to rebuild and restore what has been destroyed.

So they set to work. And they rebuilt the city walls. And they began to rebuild the temple.
But there was a small problem. They werenít wealthy enough to build a temple equaled old one, and they know it.

The original temple was built at the height of Solomonís glory. It had taken 183,000 laborers 7 years to build this temple. It was built using the resources King David had set aside for its constructionÖ but it was also financed by taxes imposed by King Solomon during his reign. Solomon also taxed the people of Israel so heavily that this burden served as one of the causes of the split of Israel into two nations after he died.

If Iíve done my math right, it seems that Solomonís temple was constructed using over 663 thousand lbs of silver and somewhere around 567 thousand lbs of gold. Thatís not to mention all the other precious stones, and expensive wood, and other materials used in its construction.

Now I donít care who you areÖ thatís a
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