HOLINESS IS A PREREQUISITE TO ACCEPTABLE SERVICE AND THE BLESSING OF GOD
Sin has a contaminating effect on everything around it. We deceive ourselves if we imagine that we can come before God and please Him in any way apart from first consecrating ourselves. In fact God has made it clear that He will not bless religious activity or sacrificial offerings or energetic ministry that does not flow out of a life that has first been consecrated to Him. But the encouraging message is that God has committed Himself to bless the service of those who put a priority on holiness. We might not see the abundant fruit immediately; but as we are patient and persevere, God will abundantly bless. There is a direct connection between obedience and God’s blessing.
A. Date Stamp
“On the twenty-fourth of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius”
B. Prophetic Message #3
“the word of the Lord came to Haggai the prophet, saying”
I. Object Lesson
II. Historical Example
I. (:11-14) THE OBJECT LESSON POINTS TO THE PREREQUISITE OF HOLINESS BEFORE ANY SERVICE CAN BE ACCEPTABLE TO GOD
A. (:11) Object Lesson Introduced
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Ask now the priests for a ruling:’”
Taylor: The distinctions alluded to in Jer 18:18 (ESV) are also instructive in this regard:
“For the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet.”
Although there is overlap in the domains described in this verse, it seems that teaching of the Torah is especially associated with the priestly community, life instruction with the community of wise men, and revelation with the prophetic guild. Thus the verdict of the priests on the matter posed by Haggai’s questions would be regarded as authoritative.
Stedman: This was in accordance with the law of Moses. If you get into a situation, Moses said, where you do not know what to do, go ask the priest to declare the appropriate principle and then make an application from that. It is the same thing we are told to do. When you get into a situation that you do not know how to handle, go to the word of God and get the principle that covers that situation.
B. (:12-13) Object Lesson Illustrated Via 2 Contrasting Questions
1. (:12) Question #1 — Is Holiness Contagious? NO
“‘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 become holy?’ And the priests answered, ‘No.’”
2. (:13) Question #2 – Is Uncleanness Contagious? YES
“The 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.’”
What happens if we immerse ourselves so deeply in the culture that we are the ones changed? Don’t deceive yourself; you cannot take fire into your bosom without being burned.
C. (:14) Object Lesson Applied – Unholy Sacrifices Are Worthless to God–
God’s People Must Put a Priority on Consecration
“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.’”
Ryrie: The point of these two questions is this: Sanctification or cleanness cannot be transferred, but defilement can (just as health is not contagious, but disease can be). The disobedience of the people was like a dead thing in their midst, contaminating all of them (v. 14).
Taylor: The question to be answered is this: How can an impure people engage in a holy task? Will not their contagious condition of impurity render impure everything with which they come in contact?
II. (:15-19) THE HISTORICAL EXAMPLE REINFORCES THE OBJECT LESSON – HOLINESS IS A PREREQUISITE TO ACCEPTABLE SERVICE AND THE BLESSING OF GOD
A. (:15-17) Sin Brings Discipline to Motivate Repentance
1. (:15) Reflect
“But now, do consider from this day onward; before one stone was placed on another in the temple of the Lord”
2. (:16) Recount the Frustration of Past Discipline
“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.”
Expectations constantly frustrated
Feinberg: Even though the people had been neglecting the work of the Temple, they had been offering sacrifices on an improvised altar at Jerusalem (Ezr 3:3). These offerings had not been pleasing to the Lord; therefore God had withheld his blessing from the people, as is clearly seen in chapter 1.
3. (:17) Respond in Repentance to the Discipline of the Lord
“‘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.”
Lindsey: Blight (crop disease) and mildew are linked in several passages that deal with divine judgment for disobedience (cf. Deut. 28:22; 1 Kings 8:37; 2 Chron. 6:28; Amos 4:9). Hail also occurs in many judgment passages (Ex. 9:25; Isa. 28:2; 30:30). For an agricultural society such punishments were catastrophic to the economy and to survival.
Taylor: All these misfortunes had befallen the people of Judah. None of them could be adequately explained as mere coincidence. In v. 17 the Lord takes credit for all of these problems, attributing them to initiatives that he himself had taken.
B. (:18-19) Obedience Brings Blessing to Motivate Abundant Service
1. (:18) Reflect
“Do consider from this day onward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month; from the day when the temple of the Lord was founded, consider:”
2. (:19a) Recount the Harvest Law
“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.”
Go to the barn and check out the situation – what type of harvest had been gathered in previous years?
Lindsey: The drought of divine judgment had already affected the year’s harvest so that their barns were already emptied of the sparse harvest. They had neither staples (seed, or grapes, or olives) nor luxuries (figs and pomegranates).
3. (:19b) Respond in Obedience to Benefit from God’s Promised Blessing
“Yet from this day on I will bless you.”