Haggai’s Message to the People’s Mind: Sin and Holiness and Repentance
A little more than two months after his second sermon Haggai delivered a third message to the people of Judah.
The theme of this message is that although sin/rebellion against the Lord produces spiritual ruin, blessing (family inclusion) attends those who obey the Lord and repent. The sermon is didactic (instructive) in nature, intended to communicate to Haggai’s audience an important lesson about religious purity.
Haggai’s message is also foreboding, in that it warns the people of their impure condition and the resultant unacceptability of their work. The point of the message hinges on a priestly ruling concerning consequences of contact with ceremonially pure or impure items.
Perhaps more concisely than anywhere else in the Hebrew Bible this sermon makes the point that impurity is more pervasive and more easily contracted than is purity.1
Haggai urged the people to inquire of the priests regarding a matter of ritual holiness. The priests would clarify whether, and if so under what conditions, it was possible to convey purity or impurity from one person or thing to another.
This investigation posed two questions to the priestly community. First, was it possible for a holy object to transfer its holiness from the garment in which it was wrapped to something else with which it came into contact?
The answer that the priests returned to this question was negative; holiness cannot be transferred in this way. (the reason is that holiness is only given through the atoning work of Jesus)
Second, was it possible for a holy object to be rendered impure as a result of the garment in which it was wrapped coming into contact with an impure person or object?
The answer the priests returned was positive; impurity can be transferred in this way.
Haggai then draws the conclusion that due to their impure spiritual condition the work of the people is unacceptable to the Lord.
Nothing they do will be acceptable until first their sinful condition is resolved by repentance and forgiveness.
As confirmation of this fact, Haggai again calls attention to the economic devastation that was evident throughout the land. Conditions of agricultural failure and economic depression were to be seen on every hand—no one could deny that. Haggai explains that these conditions were due to disciplinary, and Fatherly judgment for failure to obey the Lord.
Only when the people had properly addressed their spiritual condition would the Lord again extend his blessing (display of family inclusion). The sermon concludes with an optimistic promise of the Lord’s renewed blessing on his people.
1. Indifference is rebellion (Haggai)
It is apparent, that he people have sinned, so the nature of Haggai’s talk is that of addressing the corrupting nature of their sin. But their sin is less overt and more covert in attitude.
We must guard against overt Rebellion.
We must also guard against indifference (build the temple, don’t compare the appearance of the Kingdom to the appearance of other kingdoms).
A. Eph. 4:25-32 Sin/Rebellion Expose the people of God to Satanic Influence
B. Eph. 4:25-32 Sin/Rebellion Grieves the Holy Spirit and he is displeased with us (although our
legal standing remains unchanged; Hebrews 12 and Fatherly displeasure become a reality)
“Although they never can fall from the state of justification, yet they may, by their sins, fall under God’s fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored to them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.” (CH. 11, Sec. 5).
C. 1 Peter 2:11 Sin/Rebellion Wage ware against our own soul
D. 1 Thess. 5:19 Sin/Rebellion Quench the Spirit
E. John 15:4; Haggai 2:14-19a Sin/Rebellion Render us fruitless
2. Rebellion spreads easier than holiness (2:10-13)
A. 1 Cor. 5:1-8 Sin/Rebellion Can Influence the Whole People
1. S/R is never localized to the individual
a. We are in community with Father, Son, Spirit and by Spirit, related to, family
of and affect everyone else. S/R is a community issue.
2. Repent of indifference by engaging
a. Get involved in work being done already
b. Be present
c. Pray for your elders and ministry and deacons
3. Repentance puts blessing on display (2:19b-23)
A. Blessing is family inclusion Genesis 12:1-3
1. Father will display that we are his people by supplying fruit for service 2:19b
2. Father will display that we are his people by moving kings and nations to advance his
1 So, e.g., R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), 947.
 Richard A. Taylor and E. Ray Clendenen, vol. 21A, Haggai, Malachi, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2007), 169-70.