Haggai's Third Message

Heart shaped frame
Haggai’s third message has to do with contamination—something we don’t talk much about.

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Ask the priests what the law says: 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.”

Then Haggai said, if a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?” “Yes,” the priest replied, “it becomes defiled.”

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.’” Haggai 2:11-14

We see from this exchange that holiness/consecration is not spread by contact, but unholiness/defilement is spread by contact. Corruption spreads more easily than consecration.

So it is with their work—they don’t become a holy people because they’re doing holy work (building the temple). No, in fact, their work is defiled and unacceptable because they’re spiritually defiled by their sin. When Haggai told them in his first message to get busy and work on the temple, they obeyed. They assumed that was enough. But they didn’t cleanse their hearts, so now everything they touch is defiled, including their work on the temple.

This profound message speaks to us. We shouldn’t be deceived into thinking that doing the Lord’s work in any way consecrates us. Holy tasks do not purify the heart. However, an impure heart will contaminate our work for the Lord and cause it to be unacceptable.

The Lord struck all the work of their hands with blight, mildew and hail, to get their attention. Instead of giving him their hearts, they got busy with religious activity. Haggai again repeats this mantra “GIVE CAREFUL THOUGHT TO YOUR WAYS. ”

In anticipation of their repentant hearts, the Lord assures them that their harsh discipline, resulting in meager crops, is over, “From this day on I will bless you.”

The Lord wants to bless his people for work done with a pure heart. Religious activity for its own sake is meaningless—and counterproductive—because it deceives us into thinking we’re doing what God wants. He wants our hearts first and foremost. Then our work for him will be blessed.

I’ve been completely amazed at the practicality of Haggai’s messages for today. I’d love to get your take on it.

7 comments to Haggai’s Third Message

  • Carmen Cole

    What an eye opening message. It totally makes sense and caused me to recheck myself. Thank You so much for this message today.

    • Hi Carmen, This entire book has been an eye opener for me. There’s so many practical insights relevant for today – Why am I surprised?

  • Chérie

    I too have been so “blown away” by Haggai.
    (No pun intended [Haggai 1:9] haha)
    For my own life and for the Gospel itself being present in this Minor Prophet book. It may be called a Minor Prophet, but it has MAJOR applicability for any generation.
    Nothing we can do —N O T H I N G— can clean our own wicked hearts and give us right standing with God, and the capability to work for His Kingdom with a pure heart. Our faith to believe even comes from Him!
    I have really enjoyed working this book. It does have its challenges with so many “says the Lord”, “declares the Lord”, “declares the Lord Almighty…” (What the heck!!)
    Yet even that, I’ve paid attention to as to what those might mean coupled with what the Lord is SAYING or what the Lord is DECLARING .
    Thank you Janet SO MUCH for suggesting this. Now it’s back to Hebrews.

    • I feel the same way Cherie. Such rich truths in Haggai. I have loved digging deep, and because of memorizing it, I won’t forget it —one of the great benefits of memorizing. It’s now in my brain’s library.

  • Rosie

    Thank you Janet. You pointed out such wonderful incite into this passage. That’s a real sneaky one of Satan and we are all so prone to slip into it.

  • Shirley Snoeyink

    Thanks for your insight on the ‘food in the fold’ . I puzzled over that and I liked your explanation. It amazed me also to see how relevant the book of Haggai is for today.

    • Hi Shirley, Just so you know, I relied on a trusted commentary for this explanation. I don’t always come up with these insights on my own.