Don’t you hate when things get sticky? Paper, tape, glue? Even worse is when things that don’t stick when you want. I remember in grade school we would use paste. Can you still buy paste? That stuff didn’t work, it was frustrating to use, and it wouldn’t stick.Yet somehow it got all over me.
To make something stick you often have to start with a good clean surface, a proper amount of the right type of adhesive, then apply a bit of pressure, if the conditions are right, it may stick.
There is nothing more frustrating than stuff that sticks when you don’t want it to, and stuff that does stick when you don’t want it to.
That can even happen with people, and attitudes. Marketing studies show that one negative comment about a product or service is far more damaging than many positive reviews. Unfortunately the negative tends to stick, and the positive is little harder to stick.
Companies, and sports teams are looking for that formula of making things stick. Making the positive stick. To do that often they try and do things, like start with a good clean surface. Stop the negativity in its tracks, and set a new direction.
Next they apply a proper amount of adhesive, like building on a solid foundation by bringing in leaders with a positive attitude. Then, they apply pressure by buckling down and grinding through the process.
Maybe this is too much of a stretch, but the book of Haggai follows this process.In trying to get the temple rebuilt, it wasn’t succeeding-or it wasn’t sticking right? So, God comes to the people with the message- Give careful thought to what you are doing, and put Me first. That is like starting with a good clean surface.
In the next message God encourages them, and tries to put a stop to the negativity, like making sure the glue only gets were it needs to go.
Biblically, there is another idea that can also use the analogy. It is not positive and negative, but Holy and un-holy. Or, set apart and common, or holy and sinful or Holy and defiled. These are all ways of talking about the same thing.
God of course is Holy, we know that. We have even talked about what that means. Holy means set-apart, different and separate from everything else. God created the universe, therefore he must be separate and apart from everything He created. The universe was created, it had a beginning, things do not self create. Something cannot spring into existence without a cause, therefore God must be separate from the universe. So He is holy to the universe.That means that everything else, including us, is not holy. We are common or unholy.
Along that simple idea that holy means set apart, we can set something aside and dedicate it to God. Like things used in worship or a place. Those things then since they are set aside for the purpose of God they are said to be holy.
The Bible calls Israel, God’s Holy people. Of all the people of the world God took Israel, and set them apart for himself, or made them holy. The Priests of Israel are set-apart from the Holy people for ministering to God, so they are the set-apart of the set-apart. Yet God is still set-apart, from all of that, That is why we say God is Holy Holy Holy.
When God’s holy people, the nation of Israel is a willfully doing something that makes them like the world, or fails to distinguish them from the common, they are defiled- That is sin, they are walking apart from God, the Holy becomes defiled. Other things can be defiled as well. Such as anything that is not in, the ideal Shalom or goodness or wholeness of God, like death for instnace.
Back to the analogy, of sticky-if we think of the the world as being dirty, or covered in some sticky substance, representing defilement. Then that would be on everything of the world. We could take some people and clean them up and bring them in the house. ANd it would be good rightI, but f they went back outside they would get dirty again, and then without some sort of cleaning process they would track the dirt back into the house.
That is kinda the way this defilement and unholy stuff works, so keep that in mind as I read from Haggai chapter 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 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—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.’ ”
The Book of Haggai contains 4 major messages, over 3 dates.
On August 21st, 520 Haggai recieved the first message as the call to build the temple. The people gave careful thought to their lives and what was first in their life, and by Sept 21st of that year, they responded and got to work.
After they had been going for a while, and while there was discouragement and longing for the good old days, God gives a new message on October 17th of 520, encouraging them that the temple will once again be filled with His glory.
This is the last date we have, it is December 18th of 520 BC. It has been three months, since the people decided to recommit to building God’s house. By this date, the winter crops would have been planted. Perhaps after placing the winter crops in the ground, people had some thoughts or negativity as to what might happen. Last year the crops were poor, so now after planting there perhaps was some concern about the coming harvest. So the Lord comes to encourage them.
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.”
The message is a question about this idea of defilement. The priest takes meat that has been consecrated. That means that that meat has been through a ceremony or a ritual to cleanse it and set it apart from all other meat or food for use in God’s work-It has been made holy. Then the priest wraps up that meat in his clothes, kinda carries it like in an apron. When he does lets say he brushes against some other food-does that then make the other food-Holy or set-apart?
No-of course not-It you think of it as clean and dirty or sticky and un-sticky the clean cannot make the dirty un-dirty, and in fact the clean actually becomes dirty. and that is what is described in the next verse.
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.”
Yes, if the Holy touches the unholy the Holy now becomes defiled.
It is a one-way process. What is holy can become defiled but what is defiled cannot by just touching the Holy be made holy. It needs some other sort of process, some sort of ritual. It needs a cleansing, a washing, is the only way to make the defiled clean again.
That is an important Biblical concept. The unholy makes the holy defiled, but it does not travel both ways, the Holy cannot make the unholy clean.
That is why we see religious groups or sects that sometimes are so careful to not be defiled by the world. think of the Amish for instance who stay completely apart from the world, staying away from modern conveniences, or monks that go off and live in a monastery they are trying to be set apart and to keep from being defiled by the the world.
Since these people in Haggai’s day were not having God as their main priority, or since they were not walking as the set apart people of God-they were 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.
Because they were defiled, everything done at the Temple or in the land was also defiled. They needed to be cleansed, or needed to return to the wholeness of God, the goodness. They needed cleansing. There is and still is this common misconception that exists. It is that somehow, without cleansing, the unholy can be made holy simply by being in contact with the holy things, or coming to the holy place. They were thinking we are in the land, we are in the temple doesn’t that make us Holy?
And God is saying no, that is not the way it works and you know this.
Again we see it all the time in people and in churches. When people walk outside of God’s goodness, they think they just need to go to church to clean up right? They think that somehow being in contact with building or sitting in the service, or sprinkling with the water, or some other Holy object makes them Holy.It doesn’t work that way. What happens is you just bring the dirt from the outside world into the church with you. You just bring the defiled into the holy that is all that is happening, somehow you need to be cleaned.
The Lord then reminds them of the consequences of being a defiled people. With that familiar phrase-Gove careful thought-or do some reflecting-
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.
How were things before you when you were not dedicated to the Lord, what were things like when you focused on yourselves rather than the Lord?
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.
It was lean times, right?
17 I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not return to me,’ declares the Lord.
The work of your hands corrupted. You spent time on a nice project and it just deteriorated, cause you were not focused on me.
Do you ever feel like you are dissatisfied, that your work is not paying off, that you are not getting ahead? Ask yourself one question-who are you working for? Is it you or the Lord?
Are you doing what the Lord wants? It is a fair question to ask yourself. Does God come before all other things in your life? Or is there a but? Well yes but, Well yes unless it means this. I mean really, is there anything God could say or ask you where you will say-yep that is it I’m out?Just Give careful thought to that.
Now, these people managed to put God in the back burner, God gave them natural consequences,. They were defiled, and everything they did was defiled, they somehow needed to be made clean again.
Just being in the Holy Land was not enough, they needed to return to the Lord.
It isn’t coming to the Holy place that makes us Holy, or giving money or working on the church, but it is Christ and Christ alone, who cleans us from all our unrighteousness and presents us to the Heavenly Father made clean.
This is the same issue at the center of an incident that happened 550 years later it was recorded in our reading from Luke chapter 8 this morning. In Luke chapter 8 there is a woman who is defiled by her illness. She has been bleeding. Since this is not in line with goodness and wholeness, or the shalom of God, she is defiled or unclean.
43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her.
She could not be cleansed, right? There was no way for her to be undefiled, or be made holy again-no one could do it.
44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
She touched Jesus’s cloak-Now-what is supposed to happen- is thatJesus should become unholy-or unclean-That is the way it works, The unholy travels to to the Holy not the Holy to the unholy- but that is not what happens here. Instead, from her encounter with Jesus something new happens-The Holy flows the other way.
Jesus is able to clean her. Jesus is able to make the defiled clean.
He is able to do this because of who He is-God. He is not one of God’s Holy people. He is not just an ordinary priest who can become undefiled---He is God-He is Holy Holy Holy-He is perfect in Holiness. He is perfectly undefiled. He is infinitely undefiled- so that He has the power to cleanse the power to make clean. He has the power to restore goodness, and wholeness He has the power to restore holiness. The only way for the unholy to be made clean is through an encounter with the Living God the Lord Jesus Christ, who was made a curse for us, so that IN him we might become the Holiness of God- a chosen people a royal priesthood, set apart for God.
This cleaning just doesn’t happen for everyone-In Haggai, the other nations were not made holy- In Luke Not everyone in that crowd was healed that day-only the woman. Why her
48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”
Your faith has healed you. You have to place your faith in Christ-
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
When you place your faith in Christ, by giving your life to Him, you are making Him first in everything you do. Is there anything that Christ is not first in? Then that thing is what is first, that is what you have set above Christ.
But unless you do that things are not going to go well. Unless you place Christ first and above all you are walking outside of the goodness outside of the holiness, apart of the shalom-
This is what God reminds Haggai of.
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.’ ”
Give Careful thought to what you are doing where your life is going and from this day on I will bless you.
When you come back into this relationship with GOD-THROUGH CHRIST YOU ARE BLESSED,. Those blessings are for absolutely and surely above all else spiritual. But when your spiritual is restored and the wholeness and Shalom with God is restored, it translates into your life and permeates all aspects of your life. No I’m not saying that necessarily you will receive material blessings, you may or you may not, but no matter what your circumstances they become a blessing because you have the goodness and wholeness of God, you are filed with the spirit and walking in the fruit of the spirit rather than the defilement and blight of the world.
What does this mean for us today?
First careful thought to your life- Who is of first importance-what are doing, where are going? Is your faith in Christ above all, or are you defiled with the world walking in the world as if nothing is different as if you are not set-apart-Give careful thought to that. If you didn’t come here-If someone saw your actions and your heart and your thought would they know you are Christian?
Secondly-We do not shut ourselves up inside our walls, and expect not to be defiled by the world- In fact that is a sign that we don’t understand what Christ has done for us. as Jesus said, you do not light a lamp and hide it under a bushel you let your shine in the dark world. You were made holy to show others how to be made holy-To show other How to encounter Christ-To invite others into a relationship with the living Lord Jesus Christ- To clothe the naked to feed the hungry. To be so filled with Joy and peace and gentleness and kindness, that it sticks,
This is what God has intended this is His shalom, His peace.