BLESSING AND HOPE
Lord, keep us sanctified and on course.
Read HAGGAI 2:10–23
Blessings for a Defiled People
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 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.”
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[a]—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 return 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.’”
Zerubbabel the Lord’s Signet Ring
20 The word of the Lord came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month: 21 “Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I am going to shake the heavens and the earth. 22 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.
23 “‘On that day,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
a Haggai 2:15 Or to the days past
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Think of ways in which you have experienced God’s blessing recently and thank God for them.
The Hebrew prophets sometimes use audio-visual aids to proclaim their message. Haggai uses a question-and-answer session with a priest to make a point which is both challenging and encouraging. According to the Mosaic Law, ritual holiness is not transferable by contact. Making something holy requires a specific act of consecration. Ritual defilement, however, is transferable. Haggai’s point is that while the temple lay in ruins, pointing to the people’s failure to honor God, it was like a dead body, blighting all they did. Having decided to obey God and to act on it, they are consecrated to God and he could, and would, now bless them. The implied challenge is that they must remain consecrated to God in order to continue enjoying God’s blessing. Paul speaks of both the church (1 Corinthians 3:16,17) and the individual Christian (1 Corinthians 6:18–20) as God’s temple, indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He warns against behavior which will defile these temples, because that will invoke God’s judgment, just as it did for Haggai’s hearers.
Some people might have hoped that recent political upheaval in Persia would lead to its collapse and the restoration of the kingdom of Israel. In his final message, Haggai assures them that God will eventually establish his kingdom. The Judean king is meant to represent God’s authority, just as a signet ring symbolizes its owner’s authority. Behind verse 23 is Jeremiah 22:24–27, where God speaks of rejecting the then Judean king in terms of throwing away a signet ring. Was this the end of the hope of a Messiah from the line of David? No! God says that the line continues through Zerubbabel. Jesus was his descendant (Matthew 1:12–16). He came proclaiming “The kingdom of God has come near” (Mark 1:15) and taught us to pray, “your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10).
While praying this, we should be living out the standards of the kingdom of God and working for their acceptance in our society. Are you doing that?
Lord, we understand that the weeds overtake the garden, not the reverse. Teach us to avoid defilement, which would reduce our effectiveness.
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