Summary: Lessons from the priests, from God’s Providence and from God’s plans
Limavady Reformed Presbyterian Church
Rev Robert Robb
Studies in The Book of Haggai
We come this morning to the last of our studies in the book of Haggai. Last week we considered the message that Haggai brought to the people on the 21st day of the seventh month, just four weeks or so after the people had recommenced their work of rebuilding the temple. It was a word that was intended to bring encouragement a somewhat discouraged people. This morning we move on a further two months to the 24th day of the ninth month when God gave his last two messages to the people through the prophet Haggai. In the first of these two closing messages God takes the people back over their experiences of the previous 16 years with a view to impressing upon them some important spiritual lessons and in the last message, directed particularly but not exclusively to Zerubabel the political head of the people God brings a message of comfort and assurance for the future.
Lets look then at these closing two messages. We begin by looking at verses 11-14 where we find
1) A Question For God’s Priests:
One of the major errors into which many of the Jews had fallen throughout their history was that of ascribing an inherent efficacy to the performance of religious ordinances. That is of thinking that as long as they observed the various outward rituals of religious worship everything was alright between them and God and that God would bless them. God wanted to correct such erroneous ideas and with that in mind he told the people to go and ask the Priests to give a ruling on two proposed scenarios relating to the Law. This of course was one of the responsibilities of the priests, to teach the people the law of Moses and to interpret how that law applied to specific situations. The specific situations that God wanted them to consider are set out clearly in v12 and 13. In the first instance the priests are to be asked “if a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine or oil or other food, does it become consecrated.” Or to put the question into much simpler language – “Can something that is Holy make something that is unholy, holy? And to this question the priests answered NO. The second question the priests were to be asked was “if a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things (that is something that has been consecrated, something that is ceremonially holy) does it become defiled?” Or once again to put it in simpler language – “can something that is unholy defile something that is Holy” And the answer the priests gave to that question was ‘YES, it becomes defiled.”
And the point that God was making here and the thing that he wanted his people to grasp was that Holiness is not communicable, whilst defilement is. A Holy ordinance cannot make an unholy person who is performing that ordinance holy. But an unholy person can and does transmit his defilement to all that he touches. Moral cleanness cannot be transmitted but moral pollution can.