Our sin cannot be dealt with by us but needs the work of Jesus for us.
Haggai 2:10 – 15
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.
After providing an introduction of when this message was delivered, this section begins with some rather puzzling questions about the law regarding holy flesh and defiled people. Our first impression might be that this is some irrelevant Old Testament matter that has nothing to do with us. A closer consideration shows that it has a great deal to teach us.
The simple logic that is followed here is that something holy (holy flesh) touching other things does not make them holy. We don’t even have to delve into the detail, the statement is clear enough. Then the Lord moves to a question about a person who is defiled for ceremonial purposes; again, no detailed understanding is needed. If a defiled person touches something, then whatever they touch is defiled. The important interpretive point comes in verse 14, “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.” The Lord is communicating that the people are defiled by sin, therefore all that they touch or do is going to be defiled by them.
All this has great implications for the building of the temple. No matter how carefully they do the work of building and then offering sacrifices, all will be defiled. The temple, which symbolises the coming of the Lord Jesus and his saving work, could only point toward Christ and not provide the cleansing, forgiveness and peace with God that the people needed. Only the Lord Jesus can do that.
We could well imagine some or perhaps many of these people thinking that all they needed to do was build the temple they had neglected, and all would be fine. The Lord is making it clear that all will be fine only through his promised Messiah. We all require a saving work performed for us, outside of us by one who is entirely undefiled.
All of us need to listen to those words the Lord repeats through this book, “Consider your ways.” We need to reflect on our own life to understand what we need the Lord to do for us. When people think that they are only a little bit sinful, then their conclusion is that they need a small solution to be rid of their sin problem and be reconciled to God. When others think they have a more significant sin problem and need some help, they will often become religious and try to deal with their problems themselves, with some help from God. Both groups, which form the bulk of humanity, are left, ultimately, without hope. All involves them, and is defiled by them. When we see our sinful situation as utterly hopeless, as the Bible does (“dead in trespasses and sins”), it will lead us to seek not help but a work of salvation completed for us. It leaves us with the reality that unless we can accept the depths of our problem, we will always miss the one solution which is Jesus Christ our Lord.
Head: We need to consider our ways before the Lord.
Heart and Hands: Humbly accept your need of Jesus.
Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, we can so easily fall into the trap of living as though we can deal with our problems. Please keep reminding us of how much we need that saving work of Jesus. In his name. Amen.
A song to listen to: Jesus Paid It All
Living Church – Creek Road