Summary: God blesses those who serve Him with pure hearts.
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IS IT CONTAGIOUS?
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 (2:10).
Haggai’s third message was given on December 18, 520 B.C. (three months after the first message).
Right now people are concerned about the H1N1 virus (swine flu). One person with the flu can make fifty healthy people sick. Fifty healthy people cannot make one person with the flu healthy. The flu is contagious; health is not. This is similar to the illustration God gave to the people through Haggai.
• HOLINESS is not “contagious.”
“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Ask the priests what the law says: If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated?’” The priests answered, “No” (Haggai 2:11-12).
• DEFILEMENT is “contagious.”
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” (Haggai 2:13).
GOD’S WORK DONE GOD’S WAY
1. The holiness of the WORK is not transmitted to PEOPLE.
Doing the holy work of rebuilding the temple would not make the people holy.
In our day, preaching a sermon does not make a person holy. Putting $1000 in the offering plate doesn’t make a person holy. Praying five hours a day does not make a person holy.
All people are defiled (sinful) in God’s sight. Only the blood of Jesus can purify us. We must put our faith in Him so that we may be holy in God’s sight.
2. The defilement of PEOPLE is transmitted to the WORK.
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 is defiled’” (Haggai 2:14).
In Greek mythology King Midas was given the power to turn everything he touched into gold (the Midas touch). The Jews had a defiling touch. Everything sacrificed they had offered on the altar was defiled according to God. Why? Because of their neglect in rebuilding the temple.
If we try to serve God with defiled hearts, God will not be pleased.
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22).
“Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3-4a).
“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).
“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer” (Psalm 66:18-19).
Imagine a father asking his teenage son to mow the lawn. The son yells, “No, I’m not going to do it!” Then one minute later he asks his father for the car keys. How should the father respond? He should deny his son’s request (not to get even, but to teach him that disobedience is unacceptable). If we live in disobedience to God, should we expect Him to answer our prayers? No.
“If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable” (Proverbs 28:9).
“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice” (Proverbs 21:3).
“‘The multitude of your sacrifices—what are they to me?” says the LORD. ‘I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, please the case of the widow’” (Isaiah 1:11-17).