Is the title Christian or the name Jesus something we can sprinkle on our lives to make us holy, something that guarantees eternal life with all its benefits? Does it matter how we live as long as we’ve got the right identification?
This is something we need to ask ourselves as we study of Haggai. Haggai had a similar question for the people—a question from God Himself, one they would need to answer right if they were to move on with the blessing of God.
God had called the returned remnant to account with His sober reminder of their lame excuse for neglecting the house of God. They said it wasn’t time to work on God’s house. They were putting their own houses before God’s; that’s why things weren’t going well economically. God was judging them!
Fortunately through Haggai they “got” God’s message, considered their ways and started to work on the house of the Lord. And while the temple they were building couldn’t compare to the glory of the one God destroyed because of their sin, God told them to take courage and work. He was with them. Then came the question.
Let’s look at this question. There’s an important application in it for us.
Read Haggai 2:10-19. Remember to put a green circle around phrases that give a sequence of time, such as but now. Put a green squiggly line under the whole reference to time, or color it green. This helps because Haggai uses a series of messages from the Lord on given days, months and years.
Color code every reference to the people orange. Draw a triangle over the Lord or color code references to the Lord yellow. Color the references to the house of the Lord blue. Put a pink cloud around consider, marking it as you did consider your ways.
10 On the twenty-fourth of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Haggai the prophet, saying,
11 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Ask now the priests for a ruling;
12 ‘If a man carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and touches bread with this fold, or cooked food, wine, oil, or any other food, will it becomes hold?’ And the priest answer, ‘No.’”
13 then Haggai said, “If one who is unclean from a corpse touches any of these, will the latter become unclean?” And the priests answered, “It will become unclean.”
14 Then Haggai said, “’So is this people. And so is this nation before Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.’
15 ‘But now, do consider from this day onward: before one stone was placed on another in the temple of the LORD,
16 from that time when one came to a grain heap of twenty measures, there would be only ten; and when one came to the wine vat to draw fifty measures, there would be only twenty.
17 ‘I smote you and every work of your hands with blasting wind, mildew and hail; yet you did not come back to Me,’ declares the LORD.
18 ‘Do consider from this day onward (can be translated backward), from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month; from the day when the temple of the LORD was founded, consider:
19 ‘Is the seed still in the barn? Even including the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree, it has not borne fruit. Yet from this day on I will bless you.’”
Now let’s see what we observed. What are the questions? Write them out so you have them before you. In verses 12-13, the priest correctly rule (Leviticus 22:4), and we learn that touching holy things doesn’t make something holy, but uncleanness is contagious. So what does God want them to see?
You saw it when you marked people. Israelites or not, bearing God’s name didn’t make them clean. Touching what is unclean made them unclean, and when they were unclean what they did was unclean. Is there an application for us? Yes!
You and I cannot mess with sin and not come away smelling like sin. We can’t nestle or wrestle with a skunk and come away smelling like perfume. God wanted the Israelites to understand that although they were rebuilding the temple of God and would worship there, that would not make them holy. Holiness is not a contact sport! It doesn’t wear off on us from others.
Thus, once again, God reminds them that it was their uncleanness that brought His discipline. God was smiting them, not Mother Nature. This is why their crops weren’t yielding what they should. This was the reason for the blasting wind, mildew and hail! It was to get them—His people—to return to Him.
Don’t miss this, Beloved. This is the gracious purpose of all discipline. Discipline is for our good. It grabs our attention to help us pursue holiness, without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12).
We must ask ourselves why our nation is experiencing the catastrophic things of nature. What is God saying? What is my role in all of this?
What is our future? The future of our nation? The future of the world? Aren’t these the questions on everyone’s mind? If not, they will be, with the sure judgments of God that Ezekiel 14:13-21 says must come when a nation is unfaithful and sins against God.
Haggai has already alluded to it, but now God seals it with a signet ring. Read Haggai 2:20-23, the last verses of the Lord’s message through Haggai. Once again, mark the text as you’ve done for the past months.
20 Then the word of the LORD came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month saying,
21 “Speak to Zerubbabel governor of Judah, saying, ‘I am going to shake the heavens and the earth.
22 ‘I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariots and their riders, and the horses and their riders will go down, everyone by the sword of another.
23 ‘On that day,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the LORD of hosts.”
Did you mark nations—and kingdoms? If not, do this now so you don’t miss the scope of this final message.
You also marked the references to the Lord. Note what the Creator is going to do to His creation. Compare this with Haggai 2:5-9. For Israel, the end result will be peace. But how? Through the Prince of Peace, who will sit on the throne of David. God promised in 2 Samuel 7 that David would never lack a man to sit on the throne. Isaiah 9:6-7 nails it down to a Child who will be born, a Son that will be given. Luke 1:32-33 show us it is Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God; and Matthew 1:12 shows us that Christ’s genealogy includes Zerubbabel.
Yes, the remnant returned from exile without a king from Judah and without a temple. The rebuilding of the house of the Lord is testimony to the continuance of the Kingdom of God (Haggai 2:4-9) and Zerubbabel is God’s signet ring, God’s seal that it would happen just as He said. God’s kingdom cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28). No promise will be lost or unfulfilled—so live accordingly. Live clean.
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Kay ArthurHost, Precepts For Life