Summary: This is the 4th sermon in the "A Time To..." series from Haggai. (This sermon and series is updated from 2004.)
Series: A Time To… [#4]
A TIME TO BE BLESSED
I read this prayer written by Frank Morris. Dear Lord,
so far today, God, I’ve done all right. I haven’t gossiped, haven’t lost my temper, haven’t been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, over-indulgent, coveted my neighbor’s spouse or taken your name in vain. I’m very thankful for that; but, in a few minutes, God, I’m going to get out of bed and from then on, everyone that I encounter will probably need a lot of help from you. Amen.
How true this is. The Christian life wouldn’t be very hard if we could stay in bed all day. It is all the things that happen after we get up that gives us problems. There are 2 ways to do something- The right way and the wrong way. Let us look this morning at the wrong way and then the right way to serve God.
Haggai 2:10-14 (NIV)
10 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: 11 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Ask the priests what the law says: 12 If someone carries consecrated meat in the fold of their garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, olive oil or other food, does it become consecrated?’”
The priests answered, “No.” 13 Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?” “Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled.” 14 Then Haggai said, “‘So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,’ declares the Lord. ‘Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.
1. The wrong way to serve God.
I am going to assume that most of us really want to obey God and that no one obeys God all the time. Obedience isn’t easy, is it? It is easy to say, but not do. This is what the Jews realized. After 16 years, they began to rebuild the Temple; but a month later they were discouraged and ready to quit because of opposition. 2 months later, the people were down and ready to quit again. God had told them they were suffering because of their disobedience; and when they began to obey, they expected their problems to disappear. 3 months passed and nothing had changed. They still had all their old problems and the Temple was a long way from being finished. So, the people began to wonder if it was worth it to obey God. After all, if there’s not a reward for obedience you might as well live like the devil.
In year 2019, these verses may not make a lot of sense; but it made plenty of sense to the Jews. They had hundreds of laws governing all aspects of life. Most of those laws had to do with understanding what was holy and what was not. Holy things were objects that had been set apart for God’s use, usually in the Temple worship. Because God is holy, only holy objects could come into His presence. What if something holy touches something unholy, does the unholy thing become holy? The answer is no. What if an unholy thing touches a holy thing? It becomes defiled.
This is really a lesson about the power of sin. If you wash your hands and then touch a dirty plate, will your clean hands make the dirty plate clean? No, but the dirt on the plate rubs off on your hands. If someone walks on your clean carpet with dirty shoes, what happens? The dirt on the shoes stains the carpet. Sin is like dirt. It spreads quickly. Just as it’s hard to keep a house clean, it’s hard to keep a life clean because sin stains everything. Sin is like a contagious disease. If a person with a cold, kisses a person in perfect health, will the sick person catch health from the healthy person? No, but the healthy person can easily catch a cold from the sick person.
The application to theses questions is in this verse. The key word is “whatever”. When your heart isn’t right with God, whatever you do will be wrong. You see, God wanted more than a Temple built. He wanted the hearts of the people to be fully devoted to Him. God didn’t want a big house filled with empty hearts. He didn’t want animal sacrifices unless it was accompanied by a living sacrifice of the people. That’s the whole point. God wants your heart because if He has your heart, He’ll soon have every other part of your life.
Haggai 2:15-19 (NIV)
15 “‘Now give careful thought to this from this day on- consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the Lord’s temple. 16 When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. 17 I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not return to me,’ declares the Lord. 18 ‘From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid. Give careful thought: 19 Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit. “‘From this day on I will bless you.’”