Journal Haggai 1-2 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “Thus says the Lord of Hosts: Ask the priests about the law: ‘If someone carries holy meat in the fold of his garment and touches it with his fold-bread or stew or wine or oil or any kind of food—[do these things] become holy? The priests answered and said, “No.”
Then Haggai said, “If someone who is ‘unclean’ by contact with a dead body touches any of these, does it become unclean?” The priests answered and said, “It does become unclean.”
Then Haggai answered and said, “So it is with these people, and with this nation before me”, declares the Lord, “and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean.”” Hag 2:11-14
Observation: Outward compliance with death inside, or inward compliance not showing outwardly…God uses Israel and Judah for some pretty head scratching thinking…perhaps it should be referred to as the principle of Paying Attention.
Analysis: Grace and the Law. Law of Life vs. Law of Death. Paul goes into this a lot in his letter to the Roman church—how to understand the Gospel.
Haggai addresses the priests: “If meat, carried separately to the Temple for sacrificial purposes, touches other foodstuffs, do these other foodstuffs become holy—just for touching or being in close proximity?” “Goodness, no, say the priests. Give me a more difficult question…”
“Ok, how about this? If you were in contact with a dead body and become unclean by contact with said dead body, AND if you touch the holy meat or any of these other foodstuffs, do these become unclean?” “Oh, yeah they do, Haggai.”
So, the principle, broadly stated, would be, “How close does something consecrated need to come to become “un-consecrated?” And then, there is the sub-question of “proximity” to be an influence of holiness?
Some could think the Bible is a bit unclear, saying “Flee sin” (1 Tim 6:3-11) and thinking about a wife staying with a husband for instance (1 Cor 7:14-16), conferring a measure of holiness to the household simply by proximity (and faithfulness).
I don’t think the Bible is contradictory at all, there are just places that I don’t have an understanding yet. Christians can be fooled that maturity takes a long time to attain, say 2 or 3 years, and voilà!! I must be mature because I am 3 years older than I was. I am a standing testimony of how wrong that thinking is. Maturity is a linear effort to be wiser than the day before and not a title to be chased or a ring to be grasped.
Therefore, holiness has a proximity challenge. It is good to be in the proximity of the faithful—just like the meat in the fold of the garment—but I must not relinquish my understanding to a conviction that the principle that “just because I go to church” makes me holy. It doesn’t.
Pursue God. Pursue Him for all that he is worth. Mark 13:13b, “But the one who endures (persists, prevails, stands) to the end will be saved.” The idea with this verse is not a “wait it out” thought. It is the “chasing, pursuing the prize”:
- “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So, run so that you may obtain it.” (1 Cor 9:24).
- How about this one: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward (high) call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:14)
Prayer: Father, it took some time to see the principle that Haggai was conferring. Still don’t know if I got it right. Thank you for letting me sense what I did.
Please guide my wife and I through this sad time, keeping our focus upon You. Make gratefulness rise in our hearts and especially in our minds. Help us to be strong in our thinking and not succumb to despair in any grade or form.