After Zechariah gave his message, it was Haggai’s turn. And here he shows us one of the differences between impurity and holiness.
To give a bit of background, in Mosaic law, after the altar was anointed, it became holy, and anything that touched it became holy (Exodus 29:37). What Haggai was asking about here, was if holiness could be transmitted second hand. If meat touched the altar, it became holy. But if food touched that consecrated meat, the holiness didn’t pass on to that food.
In other words, holiness can’t be passed on second hand. Holiness doesn’t come from merely walking in a church, or fellowshipping with godly people. Holiness certainly didn’t spread from the prophets to the people for most of Israel’s history. And for most of their history, despite going to the tabernacle and temple to offer their sacrifices, these things didn’t affect their actions the rest of the time, as they sinned greatly in God’s sight.
On the other hand, impurity is much more easily spread. So if someone touched a dead body, according to Mosaic law, they became unclean. And anything they touched also became unclean. (Numbers 19:11-22)
God then 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.’ (14)
Why were they defiled? Basically it was because their attitudes had been wrong. They had taken God from the throne of their hearts, and placed themselves there. That attitude quickly spread throughout the people, and soon the work on the temple ground to a halt. As a result, the temple remained in ruins for years while they were building their own houses and trying to establish their own lives.
That “defiled” attitude then infected everything else they did. It made everything they did unclean before God. Even when they did “religious” things, it meant nothing to God, because their attitudes were wrong.
So God warned them to give careful thought to how they lived. He reminded them once again that when their attitudes had been wrong and they had left the temple in ruins, nothing went right in their lives. But now he was promising them that because they had now repented and had changed their attitudes, blessing would come, saying,
From this day on I will bless you. (19)
What do we take from this? Let us never let any seed of sin or impurity take root within our hearts. If we do, like the Israelites, it will permeate throughout our lives and make everything we do defiled before God.
Paul put it this way,
Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. (I Corinthians 5:6-7)
Lord, please root out any leaven that’s in my life. Let evil not spread within my heart, nor let it affect the things I do in service for you. Instead, fill me with your holiness that everything I do may be acceptable in your sight. In Jesus name, amen.