|Posted by Lorraine Serra on November 27, 2010 at 8:42 AM|
We left off with the Lord shaking things up for the Jewish people physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He reassured them with a promise that the future glory of the temple would far exceed the glory of Solomon’s temple.
God dealt with their disinterest and discouragement by reminding them of their intimate history with the Great “I AM”. His power to save and deliver had not diminished. He reminded them, “Fear not, I am here” and by looking at the past, pointed them with renewed purpose toward the future.
In our assignment these last two weeks, we have taken this to heart and reminded ourselves as well, meditating on God’s goodness, His presence, and His actions in our lives by writing down a list of “Standing Stones of God’s Faithfulness” to encourage our hearts to press on. I pray this exercise has aided you to truly celebrate Thanksgiving and trust God for what lies ahead. Keep that list tucked into your Bible, and add to it in the future! God is on the scene! Amen!
Now in chapter 2, beginning at verse 10, we will find Haggai bringing a third word from the Lord to deal with the third Big D in the lives of His people: Dissatisfaction.
At first reading, we are not aware of the problem. In fact, to our human eyes, it seems like Haggai is coming out of left field when he suddenly asks the priests distinct questions about what is holy and unholy, clean and unclean in verses 10 -14.
It has been approximately 2 months now since the people resumed work on the temple with real focus. They were encouraged by the Principles of Worship, Obedience and Trust in the Spirit of God dwelling among them. I thought they would be moving forward just fine, didn’t you? I would think these personal messages from the Lord would make a big difference, wouldn’t you? Evidently not. So, what’s up?
By using examples from the Law, Haggai speaks loud and clear on what God alone can see written on their hearts. God has certain expectations, and He intends to bless the people, but they need to take His correction to heart and initiate change. Let’s see how the Lord brings the people to understand through this object lesson.
We find Haggai making reference to two profound elements in the Mosaic Law which any good Jew and certainly their priests would be careful to observe. Perhaps the most well- known law among the Jews was the one concerning contact with a dead body, human or animal, and the consequence of becoming unclean.
According to the law, if you touched a dead body, on purpose or by accident, then, everyone and everything you touched would also become unclean until you were ceremonially cleansed. It resembles spreading a cold virus around! Cover your cough, yes, but then, please wash your hands!
On the contrary, Haggai asks if, after the holy sacrifices were completed and the priest carried home his portion of consecrated meat under his robe, if the robe then touched other food on his table, would the “holiness virus” spread around making all of his food holy? The answer was, of course not.
I guess they got the point: it is much easier to spread the sickness of sin and that which is unclean, like laziness, wickedness, carelessness, disinterest and dissatisfaction, all symbolic of "death".
Holiness is not as infectious as is sinfulness.
The Lord speaks plainly in verse 14: “So it is with this people….what they offer is unclean.”
Even though the people were back at work on the temple, a couple months of hard work could not erase the 16 years of neglect. Yet, they were expecting blessing from God! God was reading their hearts. “OK, Lord. We’re back on the job. Now, it’s Your turn. It’s time for the rain to fall”.
Remember, they had been suffering from drought as a punishment from God. Now, it is somewhere between mid- November and mid- December (Ha, just like us at this writing!), and they EXPECTED God to send rain since they were being OBEDIENT!! And He sure better hurry up while they still had hope of planting winter vegetables to end the famine.
But, it wasn’t yet sprinkling.
They were becoming dissatisfied. “Hey, God, we’re holding up our end of the bargain! What about You? We want results!”
Hmmm. The good work of their hands was being spoiled by still going about it with unholy hearts and hands. The impurity of their hearts, their presumptuous and dissatisfied attitudes made all their work and sacrifices unclean before God. The motivation for their obedience was not pure love and glory to God but personal profit, needs met, and hardship eliminated. Wow!
The people still lacked reformed lives.
When I started studying these verses, I just didn’t get it. It took some digging and praying to hear God’s message here. I must admit, it is a struggle for this poor sinner. But, this lesson really speaks to me about trusting God’s timetable, focusing not so much on results and expectations, but on serving Him out of love, with sincerity, leaving the rest to Him.
Purity of heart is critical. Matthew 5:8 This may seem obvious, but is it? Our motivations to serve, worship, obey, trust and work, must be all about God’s glory, not personal gain. It must be about WHO HE IS, not what He does.
Remember, we can’t earn God’s blessings. His blessings come as gracious gifts from a giving God who loves us, sees our needs, and responds with compassion and kindness.
It is just so contrary to our thinking! Our human minds can be so calculating. Just think about it: Women know how to influence men to get what they want. Children know how to push our buttons, too. Salespeople learn strategies to make customers buy. Politicians paint pictures of paradise to win our votes.
Everyone has an agenda.
We sing in the choir and volunteer on the missions committee. Even pastors can shake hands and talk up a good game to grow membership, and tel-evangelists keep offering products to meet their broadcasting budget.
Oh, we can look so good on the outside. But, remember that God sees into the heart. I’m feeling a little bit shaken up some more, are you?
The big surprise comes in verse 19: after all the reproof of verses
15 -18, reminded of their insincerity and shortchanging God with their sacrifices, still, the immeasurably benevolent, gracious Holy God promises this undeserving people, including me and you, “From this day forward, I will bless you.”
There you have it. He will bless and provide, out of love, pure love. We just need to be willing to accept those blessings in whatever shape or form they arrive, and at whatever time He sees fit to bestow them. He knows best. Halleluia!
In verse 18 Haggai encourages the people, consider that you will be able to mark the date when pure grace and unmerited favor from a pure and Holy God came to you. The Divine Appointment.
Restoration and prosperity is ours when we seek God. This should bring us to our knees, and humble our hearts all the more as we enter into the coming Advent Season. We know we are guilty. Yet, Grace visited us….His name is Jesus.
Our 4th Principle from Haggai: Practice Purity of Heart
Holy, Worthy Lord, thank you once more for opening our minds to appreciate how great is your grace and how valuable is the gift of salvation. Spirit, indwell us deeply to reveal the hidden pockets of personal gain motivating our actions.
Help us to serve You with gladness and purity of heart always! For it is Your nature to give, and all that we have is your gift to us. Let us empty ourselves to be filled with more of You, for Your glory and Your purposes. Amen.
Look up Matt 13:33 . How does Jesus echo or complement
What does Malachi 3:10 require for blessing to flow?
Categories: HAGGAI STUDY