Summary: Doing spiritual work will not change you. Holiness is not transferable but defilement is. Serving the Lord while in sin desecrates His work. Turn to Him, confess and receive the forgiveness of sin and His righteousness.
We are looking at Haggai’s 3rd message today, from 2:10-19
Both the 3rd and 4th messages were given on the same day.
Two weeks ago, we learn from Haggai not to underestimate what God can do through one man.
- His short and simple ministry turned the whole nation back to worshipping God.
- His first message was clear – you can never find fulfilment and satisfaction in life apart from God.
- There is a correlation between the blessings in life and the worship of God.
- We are blessed when we seek Him.
We also learn that when God speaks, He is addressing a need He sees in us.
Haggai’s second message is an encouragement to us - be strong and work hard.
- Look at the need of the hour and put your heart into the work God has called us to do.
- John Piper says, “How could we ever belittle a work when God says He is with us in it? When God is working at your side, nothing is trivial.”
Whatever God has called you to do – do it with all your heart.
- Don’t be discouraged. The work is not easy but it is the Lord’s work. Be strong and work.
- Only one reason was given – for God is with you and will help you to finish His task. This will be the anchor you need in ministry.
- Many in the past have done their part. We are called to do our part today, in this generation.
Our concern should not be about the past (how glorious it was) or the future (how daunting the task).
- Our concern should be NOW – what does God want to see done now - in our time, in our church, in the ministry, and then put our whole heart and soul into it.
- Ask Him, Lord, what do you want me to do today?
Now let’s look at God’s third message – 2:10-19
Two questions the Lord wants Haggai to ask the priests.
- Read 2:12. In burnt or sin offering, the meat offered to God as a sacrifice is carried in the fold of the priest’s garment. The meat is consecrated, so is the garment.
- If the garment touches other items, it does not make them holy.
- Read 2:13. In the case of a contact with a dead body, anything that comes into contact with it is defiled. (Many of the laws were given basically for cleanliness and hygiene reasons.)
The questions are object lessons.
- The message was this - holiness is not transferable.
- In other words, touching things that are holy or being near to holiness does not make you holy.
- Building the Temple, serving God, does not make you holy.
But on the other hand, uncleanness can be transferable. It can be passed along.
- Throwing a clean shirt into the laundry bag will not make the rest of the shirts clean.
- But throwing a dirty shirt in and stain the clean ones.
- If you are healthy and strong, you cannot impart it to sick people around you.
- If you are sick, you can pass on the disease to those you come into contact with.
The issue now is not about whether they are doing the right things. They are.
- They are working on the Temple. They are serving the Lord.
- God is now addressing what is inward - the issue of sin in their lives.
- God is asking, “Can any of you, by virtue of working on my Temple, or doing the Lord’s work, become clean? Does working for Me make you holy?” Answer: NO.
Doing Christian things will not make you righteous.
- Nothing outward can cleanse what is ‘defiled’ inside of us. Nothing religious you do will change you. You need God’s grace and forgiveness.
- Jesus said the Pharisees: “You clean the outside of the cup but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.” (Luke 11:39)
- Attempts at doing right so that you’ll be right, will never do. You’ll never be right by doing right.
And the other question is, “When the unclean serve Me in My house, will not the defiled desecrate my holy Temple?” Answer: YES.
- The Psalmist says (Ps 24:3-4) “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol, or swear by what is false.”
Remember this parable Jesus taught us in Luke 18:10-17.
- Two persons can come into the Temple doing exactly the same thing but with completely different heart.
- 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.” The Pharisee boasted about himself and his good deeds.