1.THE PURITY OF OUR OBEDIENCE REQUIRES CONSTANT EVALUATION
“On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Haggai: “This is what the Lord of Armies says: Ask the priests for a ruling. If a man is carrying consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and it touches bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other food, does it become holy?” The priests answered, “No.” Then Haggai asked, “If someone defiled by contact with a corpse touches any of these, does it become defiled?” The priests answered, “It becomes defiled.” - Haggai 2:10-13
The Lord ask two questions here that are incredibly interesting and a seemingly, a bit weird. As strange as the questions may seem to us, they’d have made perfect sense to the Jews.
The Jewish audience hearing these questions were familiar with hundreds of laws that governed all aspects of their lives. A healthy portion of which had to do with what was considered holy (consecrated) and what wasn’t.
This was important because God is Holy and only holy objects could come into His presence.
THE QUESTIONS, asked to the Priest who were well educated in the law and accustomed to answering these kinds of questions
IN ESSENCE: If something that is holy comes into contact with something that isn’t, will that holiness be contagious? Is it transferable? - NO
How about if something that’s unclean touches something clean, is it now unclean too? - YES
WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ISRAEL?
Verse 14 “Haggai replied, “So is this people, and so is this nation before me—this is the Lord’s declaration. And so is every work of their hands; even what they offer there is defiled”
This is a gamechanger when we really grasp it!
True holiness is not a matter of performance but of purity.
It’s not a matter of what we have on, but what is happening within.
It’s not busy hands but a clean heart.
Holiness isn’t measured by what we do for God but what He’s doing in us
We see this reality is what the Lord is trying to help Israel to understand
Participating in religious rituals and activities, even sacred ones won’t make a person holy.
The Lord is saying to Israel, “Yes, you are now back in the holy city, and you are doing a holy thing by building this holy temple, but that doesn’t make you holy”
The Israelites weren’t made holy by their work of rebuilding the Temple….in fact, the end of verse 14 states, “even what they offer there is defiled”
When the heart isn’t right, whatever you do will be wrong.
2.BUSYNESS DOESN’T NECESSARILY EQUATE TO BLESSING
“Now from this day on, think carefully: Before one stone was placed on another in the Lord’s temple, what state were you in? When someone came to a grain heap of twenty measures, it only amounted to ten; when one came to the winepress to dip fifty measures from the vat, it only amounted to twenty. I struck you—all the work of your hands—with blight, mildew, and hail, but you didn’t turn to me—this is the Lord’s declaration.” - Haggai 2:15-17
The Lord tells them to remember what things were like during that 15 year period of apathy, that extended period of time when they were focused upon building their own Kingdom and neglecting the Kingdom work of the Lord.
In their rebellion, their work wasn’t being blessed. The harvest was scarce, their stomachs were growling and in chapter 1, the Lord illustrated their hardship this way: “The wage earner puts his wages into a bag with a hole in it.”
WHAT WAS HAPPENING? Look at verse 17 again
“I struck you—all the work of your hands—with blight, mildew, and hail”
Their struggle came from the Lord. In their rebellion and sinful inactivity, the hardship they were facing came from His hand. It was corrective judgment.
There’s an important principle here that is often misunderstood: The purpose of the Lords discipline is not punishment, it’s restoration.
YET look at the end of verse 17, “but you didn’t turn to me”
THIS HELPS us to understand why even though Israel had gotten back to work on rebuilding the Temple and had been hard at it for several months, things were still a struggle.
They had believed that their busyness would surely bring blessing. They thought that the key to ending their hardship was simply hard work.
They decided that if they wanted their pantries, bank accounts and their bellies to once again be filled…they needed only fill their calendars with more religious activities.
They missed the point of what God was teaching them entirely.
This is a trap that is extraordinarily easy to fall into.
Far too often, we view busyness as a litmus test of our faith, that a full plate means a right heart. We sometimes gauge our spiritual temperature and the temperature of those around us by how crowded the day planner is.
We tend to tie our worth to our work, wearing being worn out as a badge of honor and measure our piety by our performance.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t invest our time, energy and resources into working hard for Kingdom purposes. God forbid we live as though spiritual laziness is acceptable in the sight of the Lord.
What I am trying to convey is that the hard work of rebuilding the Temple, as noble an endeavor as it is, can become an idol in itself.
HOW CAN I KNOW IF THAT’S HAPPENING IN ME?
If my rest in the Lord feels sinful, my work for the Lord has become an idol.
Busyness is not the solution to an unfruitful, discontent, and unsatisfying life, Jesus is.
3.Obedience That Is Truly Blessed Comes From A Heart That Is Fully His
Big idea of this text is that the Lord wanted more than a Temple. He wanted the hearts of the people building it to be fully devoted to Him.
He wants more than our church attendance, giving, more than our songs, amens, or sermons – He wants our hearts.