Eucharistic meditation, January 4:

Haggai’s prophecy encourages the people of Israel to devote themselves to building the house of the Lord, in spite of opposition and the hostility of the nations. Among the judgments the Lord brings is a drought which leads to a famine: there is no dew, and therefore there is no grain, wine, or oil.

Though this passage is talking about a literal drought and literal famine, the prophet describes this situation in a sacramentally charged fashion. Even in the OT, a drought of this kind would have literally affected worship: Without grain, oil, and wine, Israel would not be able to sustain her worship, would not be able to keep the lamps of the lampstands burning, supply the showbread for the table, have wine for celebration.

In the NC, the passage has even richer significance. Dew is a symbol of the refreshing and life-giving waters of baptism, the waters that fall from heaven to cause the land to produce fruit. And the products that Haggai lists are sacramental products ?E grain and oil for bread, wine to delight the heart of man. One thing we learn from Haggai is that when God disciplines His people, He brings not only a famine of the word, but also a famine of sacraments ?Ea dearth of water, an empty table.

But that is not what we have. The waters of heaven have been poured on you. And we do not come to an empty table, but to a feast of bread and wine. This can only mean that the curse is lifted, that He does not hold our sins against us, that He has not withheld the dew of heaven, the grain, new wine and oil.

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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