Before the Exile, the Jewish people were so confident that they were safe from enemy forces. God’s temple was in Jerusalem, and they thought God would surely protect the place He had chosen to declare His name. But that thinking had proved to be wrong! The people turned away from the Lord and as a result, God lifted His protection from them. In 587 B.C. the Babylonians came, they captured the city and destroyed the temple. They carried away all the treasures along with the inhabitants of Jerusalem. It looked that Israel would be lost forever. But God was not done with the Nation of Israel. About fifty years later the Persian Empire overpowered the Babylonians, and became the new world power. Cyrus, the emperor of Persia issued a decree allowing over 40,000 Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.

When the Jews went back to Jerusalem , they encountered some setbacks and little or no work is done for 16 years. But God pointed out that the delay in rebuilding the temple was not the result of setbacks but was a result of their own disobedience. God gave them a specific vision and calling but they had faltered in their spirits. The Book of Haggai is an account of God rekindling the spirit of His people to again take up the calling to rebuild the temple. While the construction was well under way, God again sent the prophet Haggai with a special message to His people.

Haggai 2:10-19

10 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: 11 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Ask the priests what the law says: 12 If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated?’” The priests answered, “No.” 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.” 14 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. 15 ‘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. 16 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. 17 I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me,’ declares the LORD. 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: 19 Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit. ‘From this day on I will bless you.”

God was calling His people back to Himself through Haggai God was trying to get the people to understand that rebuilding the temple should be the outward result of their love relationship with God. The relationship with God comes first, and doing the work of the ministry is a result of that relationship. Here in o passage, God once again brings that message to the forefront by showing the Jews how far they’ve strayed from His loving care and protection, and He uses the illustration of clean versus unclean objects, or holy versus unholy objects.

Being religious does not make you pure, but disobedience will make you spiritually unclean.

Something that is consecrated or holy is something that is spiritually pure or clean, something set apart and dedicated solely to God. Under the Jewish Religious Law, an object that is holy or clean does not have the power to make anything else holy. On the contrary, something that is holy can easily be defiled and become unclean if it is touched by a person who is unclean. Being religious does not make you pure, but disobedience makes you spiritually unclean.

Difference between being religious and being obedient

Someone who is religious can look godly or spiritual but may lack the intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ. They might be Christian, but they lack the intimacy with the Lord. On the outside they look fine. Religious – often think of someone who is trying to do all the right things out of their own strength and power in an attempt to reach God or find God’s favor or approval.

Note : There is nothing we can do out of our own power to access the throne room of heaven. It is all by the grace of God. That privilege is found by solely accepting Jesus’ invitation to come under His protective wing, receiving His forgiveness for our sins, and following Him as Lord. That’s how the privilege is granted.

In contrast, obedience means to hear God first, and then to follow. That’s the literal meaning of the word. It implies that what we say or do is a response to what God is already doing within us. It is based on this love relationship we have with Jesus Christ. It is an expression of faith.

Recall once again the importance of the Temple in Jerusalem to the people of Israel. The Temple was their rallying point. It was the symbol of God’s favor and promises on their people and nation. The Temple of Jerusalem was supposed to be a holy place, the place where God’s presence resided. With that in mind, it was easy for the people to get the feeling that their religious devotion to this “holy” place made them holy. As a people they thought that being religious, doing service to a righteous cause made them right with God. But that was not the case. The presence of God’s holy temple could not make them holy.

Unfortunately, that type of thinking still exists in today’s world. All over the place we see people devoted to good causes, thinking that by doing these acts it somehow gives them the right to reach God, but such is not the case. Man’s good or right deeds can never attain the righteousness of God. It is only by God’s undeserved favor that we can attain heaven’s blessings.

Even in the realm of Christianity, it is easy for us to cover up our own disobedient hearts by looking religious, getting involved in lots of stuff. But God is not impressed with what we do. Being more active in Christian work does not bring us closer to God. The prophet Isaiah addressed this very issue, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” – Isaiah 29:13.

How so often we find our churches living and dying by our traditions or by our own law while the Spirit of God is moving differently? God is honored when our devotion is from a heart of obedience, of hearing God first and then following, rather than commitment to rules of men. That’s what Haggai is talking about. That is what Isaiah is talking about.

Effect of disobedience

Because of their disobedience, the Jews who returned to Jerusalem, were themselves considered unclean by God, and everything they touched, everything they did, everything they got involved with was tainted from God’s point of view. That’s why God says in verse 14, “Whatever they do and whatever they offer there (in the temple) is defiled,” because they were a tainted people. They could not produce anything worthy of God. Even as a believer, if you and I are not right in our relationship with God, then the service that we offer is tainted. The worship we offer is unacceptable to God. Until our hearts are right before God, nothing that we offer to Him is acceptable. It’s not that we ought to be perfect, we ought to be in right relationship. Meaning that if we are imperfect, we come to God admitting that imperfection and not putting on a show. Being religious does not make you pure, but disobedience will make you spiritually unclean.

God was calling His people back to Himself

God was explaining all of these things to the people to help them understand how far they had strayed. Remember, God wanted His people to come back. He wasn’t just coming down on them hard, He wanted them to ccme back. And He was telling them these things so that they would come back.

God sometimes allows hardship to draw a person back to Himself.

In verses 16 and 17, God reminds the Nation of Israel of the effects of their disobedience.

Example : A preacher used to work with a guy who said he was a believer but he didn’t act like a believer. He didn’t talk like a believer. He swore like a sailor. He drank and partied with the best of them. Then one day as he was driving to work, somehow a big rock got dislodged in the road and crashed into his window and it just missed him as he was driving on the freeway. The preacher remembered when he came into work that morning he was kind of shaken up. He came to the preacher and said, “I think God’s trying to get my attention.”

Sometimes it does take things like that to get off of our own agendas and back onto God’s.

If you are in a financial bind, or if you always seem to be in the situation where you just cannot seem to get ahead, for whatever reason like the Nation of Israel was, maybe God’s trying to get your attention.


Sometimes the Lord wants you to take a look at your priorities and allow you to come back and to have Him first in your life. Sometimes the Lord allows physical hardship to come upon you to catch your attention. In whatever case, the Lord desires that relationship. He’s willing to go to great lengths to get us back. He let His Son die to get us back. And He’ll let you go through some hardship to get you back. He loves you that much. God sometimes allows hardship to draw a person back to Himself.

Effect of obedience

Those who obey receive God’s blessings. Take a look at verses 18 and 19.

It’s been a long hard journey for the Jews. It has taken them sixteen years to come around. Sixteen years to come to the place in their journey of faith where their outward efforts were now the result of their faith, of their love relationship with the Lord who called them. God says that up until that point, they had been reaping the consequences of their past actions. But now, in their obedience in building the temple, God was going to turn around and bless them. They have shown their readiness to put God first. But, although their obedience put them in a place to receive God’s blessing, they still did not deserve it.

For no man, nor country is worthy enough to receive God’s favor. If God chooses to bless, He does so solely by His own will and own power. Not because we earn it. Not because we deserve it. God is under no obligation to bless anyone. He does so completely by His own will and His own desires. But in the last part of verse 19, God expresses His overwhelming forgiveness and love in one statement, “From this day on I will bless you.”

Even though they had strayed for such a long a time, out of His love, God had the desire – He always had the desire to bless them. The Jews of Haggai’s time did not deserve God’s blessing, but He lavished upon them blessings anyway. He gave them His undeserved or His unmerited favor. In the time before Jesus was born, in the Old Testament times, God often showed His blessing on His people by providing for their needs. He would protect them from their enemies. He would give them more land and more wealth. That’s the kind of blessing promised to the Jews in Haggai 2:19.

Those who are followers of Jesus are not just representatives of God, the very presence of God goes with them. That’s a blessing!

God wants to pour out His blessing & Holy Spirit upon us

But we need to come to Him with obedient hearts to be in a place to receive that blessing. Our God has chosen to bless us not because we deserve it, for none of us can earn the favor of God, but because it pleases Him to bless us. This blessing does come with a price though. The price is the life of God Himself in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. Isaiah 53 tells us that each of us in his own way has strayed from God and sinned against Him. Left to ourselves we are destined to an eternal place called hell away from God without God’s presence.

Some of us are held down by the weight of sin in our lives, and no matter what you do, you cannot remove the pain and the guilt, you cannot find the healing. But in Jesus there is hope and there is freedom. In Jesus there is healing. The devil will use guilt to hold you down and keep you from growing. But in Jesus, there is hope and freedom. It took Jesus’ life on the cross to give us our hope here today.

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