Summary: Do you want to be blessed by God? The fifth sermon in a series on the Book of Haggai.
The Blessing of God - Haggai 2:10-19
Do you want to be blessed by God? That's kind of like saying, "Do you want to be a millionaire?" It goes without saying, yes. But what does that mean to be blessed by God? How can we be people who are blessed? Today we'll be continuing on in our study of Haggai and look at Haggai 2:10-19. But before we look into God's Word, let's look to the Lord together, let's pray (pray).
We've been working our way through the book of Haggai and in case you've just joined us, let me give you a little bit of background for this book. The Israelites have been in captivity in Babylon for the past 70 years. Jerusalem was destroyed because of the people's sin and idolatry. The city was burned to the ground and the survivors were taken away to Babylon. After 70 years the Babylonian empire fell to the Persians and a new king, Cyrus invited the Jews to return to their homeland to rebuild the temple. About 50,000 Israelites respond and make the long journey. After a period of settling in, they begin the rebuilding by laying the foundation. But soon after that opposition from the people living in the surrounding area brings the construction to a halt. This stoppage lasts for 16 years and God sends two prophets to encourage the people. Haggai is one of these prophets.
We saw in chapter one how God challenged the people to return to their true purpose, to rebuild the temple. And at the end of the chapter we see the response of the Jews. They begin working and the power of God falls on them. In chapter 2 we see that after about a month of work, the project is threatened by discouragement. The people fight with comparison. The new temple is nothing compared to Solomon's temple. But God redirects the people back to the building project. He tells them to be strong, to work and to not be afraid. Then He reminds them of these three great encouragements, God's presence, God's power and God's purpose.
Now God gives another message to the Israelites through Haggai. Take a look at verse 10 (read verse). This message comes exactly three months after the Israelites restarted the work on the temple. Why did the Lord speak at this time? I think there might be a couple of reasons. First, the message came in the ninth month which would be November or December. That would be the time where the Israelites would sow their crops. Up until that time the Israelites had seen meager harvests. What they sowed turned out to bear crops that were far less than what they expected. Now as they planted again I'm sure the Israelites wondered if they would still have less than expected harvests. The Lord wanted to reassure them. The second reason that the Lord addressed them at this time was that wrong ideas of what it meant to be a blessed people were growing in the hearts of the Jews.
In this sermon this morning I want to look at three points: 1) how not to receive God's blessing; 2) the curses of God; and 3) the blessing of God. If you have your bulletin you can take notes or better yet you can write in your notebook.
First, how not the receive God's blessing. Take a look at verses 11-14 (read verses). In these verses God uses an illustration from the ceremonial law. There are two hypothetical situations here. Let's look at the first. If a person offers a piece of meat at the temple to sacrifice and it becomes consecrated, and if that piece of meat is carried in a cloth, and if that cloth touches something else, like some other food, will it make that food consecrated? The answer is no. The lesson is clear. Holiness is not contagious. It can't be spread by touch or close proximity.
Why did God use that illustration? I think a wrong view was growing in the minds of the Israelites. Their thinking may have gone something like this: They were building the temple. The temple represented the presence of God. Therefore they themselves were made right before God because of their close proximity to the temple. They believed that the temple gave them a sort of spiritual protection and blessing. That's exactly what the people thought right before the Babylonians captured Jerusalem and destroyed the city and the temple. Jeremiah 7:4 says: "Do not trust in deceptive words and say, 'This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!'" The people believed that as long as the temple was standing, then they would never be conquered. Look at what God says to this attitude in verse 9-11: "Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, 'We are safe' - safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the Lord."