Haggai Chapter 2:10-19 The Pollution of Sin
Haggai 2:10 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,
The next message from Haggai comes about two months after the previous. The 24th of the 9th month would correspond with Dec 18th 520 B.C. Haggai gives a total of 5 messages from the Lord which all take place within a 4-month period. The people would be roughly 3 months into rebuilding the temple when this 4th message is given to the remnant in Israel. it is important to note that there are two messages delivered from Haggai on this day. Both the 4th and 5th (final) message were delivered around Dec 18th 520 B.C... The 4th message appears to begin as a rebuke and end with a blessing, and the final message promises the hope of the coming messianic kingdom again. The timeline is important also, as this message is being given while the prophet Zechariah has now begun his ministry (Zech 1:1). So, there are now two prophets in Israel preaching divine messages from the Lord. Zechariah’s first message corresponds to a similar timeframe that this prophecy does in Haggai. Zechariah’s message was very simple, the remnant in Israel needed to return to the Lord (Zech 1:3), turn away from their evil deeds (Zech 1:4), or else face judgement for their disobedience (Zech 1:5-6).
Haggai 2:11 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Ask now the priests for a ruling:
The priests oversaw making sure the law was correctly applied. When a matter was too complex the priests would judge it (Deut 17:9). A faithful priest would enjoy a unique relationship of peace with God, they would walk in the fear of the Lord and be in awe of the character of God (Mal 2:5). The law of truth would be in their mouth, and they would turn many people away from sin (Mal 2:6). The lips of a priest would preserve knowledge, and many would look to them for spiritual instruction (Mal 2:7). We can all learn a lesson from this as the Church is being made into a kingdom of priests, by Jesus who loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood (Rev 1:5-6). We can do this by studying to show ourselves approved, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). That we might all be faithful ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:20). With a goal of turning many people away from sin to Christ (James 5:20). By the grace of our great God and savior Jesus Christ may we all grow up into this.
Haggai 2:12 ‘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 become holy?’” And the priests answered, “No.”
Haggai 2:13 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.”
The meat being referenced here would be the bodies of the animals that were sacrificed of which the priests were allowed to partake (Lev 6:29). The message is that something holy will not convey it’s holiness to an ordinary object. Whereas if someone were unclean from touching a dead body (Num 19:11) and touched something holy it would be defiled. Therefore, holiness is not communicable, whereas sin and defilement are. A healthy child that touches someone sick will not transmit health, you cannot catch health, but you can easily catch a sickness. You cannot transmit holiness, but you can certainly transmit unholiness. Paul warns the churches that a little leaven (sin) will leaven the whole batch of dough (Gal 5:6), just as one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. Solomon said even something as pure and fragrant as perfume would be ruined if just a small flea got into it (Eccl 10:1). Even so, foolishness and sin outweigh wisdom and honor in the testimony of believers. A single act of indiscretion can ruin the testimony of even the most faithful of Christians. Just as a single drop of poison in a glass of water renders it deadly. So, sin if not dealt with will corrupt anything that it touches.
Haggai 2:14 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.
Having explained the lesson, the Lord now applies it to the nation of Israel. The people had returned from captivity, rebuilt the altar and were offering sacrifices again (Ezra 3:3). However, after they experienced hardship, they neglected to build the temple for up to 14 years. Therefore, the nation was unclean due to the sin of negligence. Consequently, they could offer God no acceptable service. They assumed God was well pleased with their works because they started sacrificing again, but the reality was that sin had already spread to the entire nation. The nation was practicing sin by continuing to neglect the building of the temple. They were essentially telling God they would offer him a bit of worship but no more. They needed to learn the lesson that an outward form of religion would not communicate holiness to them. God desires obedience rather than sacrifice, and heart worship over the outward form of religion, he cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly (Is 1:12-13). Their sacrifices would not make them holy, for the Lord desires obedience more than sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22). The road to destruction is broad, there are many ways to arrive at hell. You can worship a false God, or you can attempt to worship the true God in a false way and so manifest your lack of true faith. The Bible is full of stories of men who tried to worship the true God in an unauthorized way and were rejected. Cain’s offering was not accepted by the Lord (Gen 4:4), but he had respect for Abel’s. What was the difference between Cain and Abel? Why did Abel offer the prescribed sacrifice and not Cain? The New Testament reveals Abel believed in God, and therefor demonstrated his belief by following the instructions regarding how Yahweh wanted to be worshipped (Hebrews 11:4). Nadab and Abihu attempted to offer an unauthorized form of fire before the Lord and were immediately killed (Num 3:4). The Israelites built a golden calf in the wilderness and did not claim it was a strange god, but rather the one that brought them out of Egypt (Exodus 32:8). They attempted to worship the true God in a false way, and many of them died in the wilderness. False worship manifests a lack of saving faith. We have many modern-day examples of this type of behavior. Jehovah’s witnesses and Mormons deny the deity of Jesus Christ. Catholics mix the gospel of grace in salvation with the works of men, and just like touching a dead body render their own gospel unclean. Those of the ecumenical movement claim we all really believe the same thing and should just forget biblical doctrine all together. There is a brand of Christianity that titles itself “gay Christianity” which is willing to go to church but not repent (1 Cor 6:9). We have many women pastors in the world that believe they are serving the Lord on Sundays when in reality they are in outright rebellion (1 Tim 2:12). All of these groups attempt to disguise their false doctrines with good works. They make much of their own righteousness by boasting in feeding the poor, starting a hospital, or doing missionary work. Scripture is clear the unbelieving are defiled, they may profess to know God, but by their actions deny him and are worthless for any good deed (Titus 1:15-16) For without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6).
Haggai 2:15 ‘But now, do consider from this day onward: before one stone was placed on another in the temple of the LORD,
Haggai 2:16 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.
Haggai tells the people to ponder their economic circumstances from the time before they began to rebuild, when they neglected the temple for almost 14 years. Before they began to build, it appears God cursed the nation with what we might call hyperinflation. When a farmer expected a certain amount of grain to be threshed from a grain heap it would yield half of what he expected, that is 50% inflation. When someone who’s trade was making wine would estimate how much a vat would yield, they would receive less than half their estimate! The Lord reminds them that the reason they were suffering economically is due to their indifference towards rebuilding the temple (Hag 1:9). If only America could learn this lesson right now, over the past few years since the pandemic we have seen inflation skyrocket. From oil and gas to cars and groceries, we have all seen well near 50% inflation. The worst of it appears to have ravaged our housing market. Within the span of less than 5 years the average mortgage payment and rent appears to have almost doubled. When people come to their paycheck expecting it to pay their housing expense, they now find it only pays half! If only America would consider her ways (Hag 1:7) and turn back to the one who has struck us (Hos 6:1).
Haggai 2:17 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.
We must be able to distinguish from the discipline of the Lord and his wrath. As harsh as this message appears to be it is about to turn into a blessing. God reiterates to the nation the curses of the law for their disobedience (Deut 28:22). However, He is also calling the nation to return to him. The message of God’s discipline is to return to him because he has redeemed you (Is 45:22). Whereas the message of his wrath is to depart from him because he never knew you (Matt 7:23). There will never be a child of God who is not bought with the blood of Christ. Therefor, as severe as these judgements were to the nation there is always a remnant of God’s children who he will call to himself. These children will always respond to the discipline of their father one way or another, whereas the wicked will not turn to the one who has struck them (Hos 6:1). That really may be the best description of repentance in the Bible, it is simply turning to the one who struck us, God has torn in discipline, but he will also heal (Hos 6:1). Let us not despise the discipline of our Father, for whomever he loves he disciplines (Heb 12:6).
Haggai 2:18 ‘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:
Haggai 2:19 ‘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.’”
Although the people had been rebuilding the temple for several months now, they still had seen no blessing from God. Months earlier Haggai had explained they were experiencing economic lack due to not rebuilding the temple, now that they had begun to rebuild, I imagine they were curious why they were still suffering economically? The answer is that although genuine repentance and obedience does produce a blessing, the effects are not immediate nor are they always tangible. God is not an ATM machine, his blessings can be spiritual, physical, or both. Furthermore, just because they had repented does not mean the punishment for their sin would immediately end. Like a man who struggles with drugs his whole life and then comes to Christ. He may have forgiveness from God, and peace of mind as well as all the benefits of salvation while at the same time his body is still ravaged from drug use. Even so, the nation of Israel had repented of its sin and begun to build, but they were still living in poverty. The Lord concludes his message by having the people take special note of the exact day of this message. Remember it is right around Dec 18th 520 B.C. the people are roughly 3 months into rebuilding the temple at this point. The Lord promises, that from this day on he will bless them. In his sovereignty he had decreed the punishment was enough, and now that they had begun to rebuild the temple and demonstrated their repentance was genuine, they were going to be blessed as a nation. We see that the discipline of the Lord always brings abought a harvest of righteousness to those who are trained by it (Heb 12:11). The nation of Israel had experienced severe judgement for their sin, by the grace of God a revival came about, and they began to rebuild (Hag 1:14). Now after several months the blessings of God will follow. God is always faithful to his promises.
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
In conclusion, we must realize the absolute necessity of faith in Christ when speaking about works acceptable to God. For without faith, it is impossible to please him, since we must believe that he not only exists, but is also a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Heb 11:6). The love of God is that we obey his commands, but his commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). When a person turns to the Lord, he is born again and given a new heart that genuinely desires to please God. Not to earn salvation, but rather because they are thankful for receiving it as a free gift. These works are acceptable to God and will be rewarded by Christ (Rev 22:12).