Blessings for a Defiled People
Haggai 2: 10-23
Key verse 2: 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”
For the last 2 weeks we have been studying the book of Haggai, and today will be the final study to conclude this book, to give you a reminder of what we studied earlier I will give you a small summary then we continue from verse 10 in chapter 2 of this book. We learned from the first chapter of this book how the word of God was directed to two men through the prophet Haggai, who was an old man that witnessed the destruction of the first temple and God’s people exile. The word of God came to two men. The first man is Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, who was the governor of Judah, and the second man was Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Notice that the man who saw the first temple in its glory would deliver the message to a man who did not see the first temple and in fact was the product of the exile, Zerubbabel. His name is the seed of Babylon which reflect the period of the exile in him. This sounds like a hand over from a man who saw the first temple to a man who will lay the foundation of the second temple. One very important fact about Zerubbabel is that he is a descendant of David and a straight line to Jesus. This fact is important for us so that we can understand the rest of chapter 2 in this message.
In the first chapter we notice that the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai twice, the first time was to rebuke both of the leaders, for their complacency in building the house of God. Both men reacted by abandoning their disobedience to God. Both men repented with the whole remnant of the people. Remember that 42,360 people came back from exile according to Ezra 2:64. It took the people 24 days to start the work on the house of the LORD Almighty. The second time God spoke through the prophet Haggai was almost one month after the work started in the house of the LORD Almighty. The message was not only to both leaders but also to the remnant of the people. God needed to remind the people and give them a dose of encouragement. Why did they need this encouragement? There is a clear description of how the first temple was built. Solomon and the whole nation with all its riches poured all their donations to build the house of God. Solomon used the best skilled workers to work in the temple. He even used skilled workers and special Cedar wood from Lebanon to complete the first temple. When the few remnant of God’s people started the work for one month, it seemed as if it did not size to anything in their eyes compared to the first temple. But in God’s eyes this second temple has greater glory than the glory of the former house. God does not look at the physical aspect but at the spiritual one. Yes physically the former temple might have looked much more glorious, but this second temple has the greater glory. And for sure this was an indication of Jesus Christ.
Let’s now focus on the rest of this book, Let’s read together verses 10-12 “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: This is what the LORD Almighty says ‘Ask the priests what the law says: 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.” In other words, what is holy does not make other things holy. Meaning if God is holy this does not make us holy. We cannot become holy by our own work. Look at verse 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.” In other words, a person who is defiled, everything he or she touches becomes unholy. We are sinners and defiled. Everything we touch become unholy. So, the two questions that persist are, Because God is holy we cannot become holy. So how can we be holy? The second question is since we are defiled how then we can be in the presence of God who is holy since defiled people cannot be in the presence of God? There has to be a solution for us and this solution cannot be done by us, because every work we do or things we touch are defiled because we are defiled with sin. “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.” As we see in verse 14,no work that we can do can lead us to holiness, we will remain defiled and our work is defiled and our offering is defiled. Solution cannot come from our side because we are defiled people. And further than that, the rest of the creation is defiled because of us. Then solution for transforming us to be holy has to come from the Holy and Almighty God. The work we do while we are defiled is not blessed.
Look at verses 15-17 “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. 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. I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me,’declares the LORD.” God explained to the people that their lives were not blessed and it was not blessed because of their disobedience to God. Might one ask, look this man or this woman are not even going to church and they are succeeding and thriving in this world, how is that happening? I am sure most of you if not all of you, if you worked hard asked this question and wondered. I asked this question many times in my life and wondered. Then I realized one important thing. These people are not God’s people. They are out of God’s attention. So God did not discipline them. At this point of their lives they did not belong to God and did not pursue God. They don’t have rewards or treasures in heaven. Now we check God’s people, They are under God’s attention. God pays clear attention to them and because of that they don’t get away with disobedience. So God intentionally strike the work of their hands to discipline them. So, when I am a child of God and I am in a state of disobedience it will reflect in my life with God’s discipline. But sometimes even that strike does not bring our attention to God. In that state we can be in complete blindness to what God is doing in our lives. God said to the people I strike you with this and that and yet you did not turn to me. When we are not blessed we try to explain our state with everything else rather than admitting that God struck us. We convince ourselves that we had the misfortune and maybe next time will be better. We convince ourselves that this is a small obstacle on the road and we will overcome. We find all kinds of explanations for our situations as long as we don’t check our own relationship with God. Because we are cool with God. We are alright. And why we convince ourselves this way? Because we convince ourselves that we are obedient to God in our current state. Why? Because we do not want to change our state and we are comfortable where we are. We resist God to change our current lives and to bring us back to the obedience state which every child of God should have. We rebel against God thinking that we are obedient justifying our actions in a spiritual way and convincing ourselves that this is what God wants from us so that we can stay comfortable where we are. But thank God that he does not leave us alone in this state and he strikes us until we come back to our spiritual sense and obey him. Amen. God does not leave his people because he loves us so much that he wants us to be obedient to him. This is all what God ask of us, obedience. I marvel constantly at what God does in my family regarding this subject. I disobeyed God in many instances knowingly or gradually and I don’t get away with it. God always catch me and discipline me. God holds my destiny in his hands. For example, financially God is holding my family’s income in his hand and releases enough of what we need not more and not less at this stage of our lives. Sometimes in a stagnation period I wonder what is my purpose in God’s plan and what is he doing for me at this stage and I realize this is exactly what he is doing to me. It is a waiting time before I am released. It is amazing to see the work of God even at this time of waiting because all this is his work. Remember now the word of God came through Haggai on the first day of the sixth month. After 24 days Zerubbabel, Joshua and the remnant of the people started working on the house of the LORD. One month later the word of the LORD came through Haggai directed also to the remnant of the people to encourage them. Then exactly 3 months later after the work started and on the 24th day of the ninth month the word of the LORD came through Haggai asking the priests questions which I explained earlier.
At this point after 3 months of hard work the people of God laid the foundation of the temple. This is like the solid foundation of the work of God. The foundation is the most important part in the work. Completing that foundation is the base for completing the work. Everything else is based on that foundation. Remember that God’s work is built on a foundation. If your foundation is of sand, whatever you build in your life will crumble down. And the more you build the more chance it will crumble down because of the pressure on that sand. But if your foundation is solid like a rock, you build more and what is built is confirmed strong. Have a time of devotion and ask yourself one important question, what is the foundation of my life? Is the foundation of my life ” work”? If someone loses his or her job and do not see value for themselves in this life, this is an indication.This is a sand foundation. Is the foundation of my life marriage? If someone stick around to marry and if he could not marry, he decides to leave.This is a sand foundation. Is the foundation hoppy? If someone finds that his or her life is filled because of their hoppy and if they don’t have it they feel empty and lose value of their lives. This is a sand foundation. Is the foundation of my life degrees? If someone feels fulfilled when they accomplished their degrees.This is a sand foundation. I just named few examples, but there are many examples of foundations that are made of sand. Then what is the solid rock foundation? It is Jesus Christ. Is my foundation Jesus Christ? If I make Jesus first thing in my life and make him the core of my decision making in my life then my foundation is solid rock. And now I can build my work, my marriage, my degrees, my hoppys and everything else on that foundation and this will constantly give me satisfaction. I think there is a hymn about this. My house is built on nothing else but Jesus Christ my solid rock.
Let’s read our key verse 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” What the significance of that day, This is the exact day the total of seventy years were completed from the destruction of the first temple to completing building the foundation of the second temple according to the Jewish calendar. Remember God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:10 which reads “This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.”
God’s people completed the work of the foundation led by Zerubbabel or the seed of Babel or Sheshbazzar. God’s plan is so organized, and is perfect. Our lives are the same, when our foundation is Jesus Christ, God’s plan to build our temple is so amazing and so perfect, even when we see it otherwise. If I am batherd with waiting I cannot but look at Joseph’s life who waited patiently in prison for many years not knowing what God’s next move for his life was, but knowing that there was God’s move for his life and he just needed to wait for it. And just waiting is not easy at all,not comfortable and not popular.
The 24th of the ninth month was so important in God’s plan that God had to send his words twice in one day through the prophet Haggai. This time the message was directed only to Zerubbabel, the carrier of the faith torch from his forefather David to his descendant Jesus.
The second message on the 24th of the ninth month is in verses 20-23. “The word of the LORD came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month: “Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms. I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother. On that day,’I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealteil,’declares the LORD, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’declares the LORD Almighty.” God’s message was directed to Zerubbabel with great encouragement. The time is coming soon for Jesus Christ to come and save us from our sins. Jesus Christ is the new temple that can not be destroyed or shaken and Jesus Christ is our foundation. Amen. Jesus Christ is the foundation of our church. Amen.Jesus Christ is the foundation of our lives absolutely and personally. God had shaken the heavens and the earth. Empires rose and fell, but the solid foundation of Jesus Christ is still there. People in the world are striking each other and the foundation is still there, solid and intact.
We currently look at our generation and this nation. This nation was built on the Christian moral values. Even those who were not people of God and did not follow Christ they knew what is wrong and what is right. Now we find people celebrate their sins. We see churches tolerate sin and condone it to the point that their spiritual leaders justify sins. After recognizing our sins, now we justify them to make false peace instead of having peace with God. There is a lot that changed in this society. The devil is launching raging war in all fronts in this nation. Many abandoned God and others are on the way to do so. We see spiritual leaders discouraged and members are decreasing. But despite all that, the solid foundation of Jesus Christ is still there and God is waiting for us to build on it. I pray that God leads each one of us to fulfill the purpose and the mission we were created to do. May God be with this nation until people turn back to God and find their own foundation in Jesus Christ again. Amen