This sermon is number 3 in series of 4
"Bringing God's Blessing Down"
by David Legge | Copyright © 1999 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Haggai chapter 2, Haggai 2 and we're beginning to read at verse 10. And remember that in the first study - two studies ago, that we began the book of Haggai - we looked at the first sermon, the first message that Haggai delivered. Last Monday evening we looked at the second message - chapter 2 and verses 1 to 9. You'll remember that I told you last week that his third message and his fourth message, they were both given on the same day.
We're going to look this evening at the third message from verse 10 through to verse 19: "In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the Lord; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean. And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the Lord: Since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten: when one came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty. I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the Lord. Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid, consider it. Is the seed yet in the barn? Yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you".
You'll remember that the land of Judah had come out of captivity from the land of Babylon. They'd been seventy years there, they came back to their homeland and Cyrus had given them permission to begin to build their temple, and they started to build the foundations of the temple. But the book of Ezra tells us that the Samaritans discouraged them, they said all manner of evil against them, they sent a letter to the Emperor to try and stop them from doing this great work of God - and they were discouraged from the work of God, like we can be discouraged in our lives because of the things that come in from day to day.
You'll remember that we learnt that, for sixteen years, that whole work of God was hindered because of the saint's discouragements. But you will remember also that we learnt that through the disobedience - and we saw it in the book of Habakkuk - through the disobedience of the children of God, what happened and what had been promised in the book of Deuteronomy, was that the heavens would become brass, the earth would become dust. You see, God has a pattern and God has a way of working with His children, and indeed with His world, that when they do not walk in obedience with Him, He brings famine and He brings drought. This is a story that's found right throughout the word of God, from Genesis even to Revelation - when the world is hit with pestilence, with plagues, with drought, with famine and there is a lack of water - and what God is saying to all of the world, but to His people especially: when there is a lack of water, it is to show you a spiritual lesson: that there is a lack in your life of the living water of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These people, as we look at them now - we've gone through their history a little bit - and as they receive this third message of Haggai, we see here that they are in the midst of famine and in drought. Now, you'll remember from chapter 1, look back at it, and verse 14 that you saw with me that the leaders of the nation - Zerubbabel and Joshua, the high priest - both of them had been stirred by the Spirit of God through the message of God's messenger, Haggai. God's Spirit had come into their heart, had blown a breath upon their soul, had set them alight in the depths of their being and they realised that they needed to consider their ways before God - so what did they do? Right away they got the bricks out, they got the mortar and the cement and they began to start again, building the temple of God. They cleared away all the weeds from the foundation and they began to put brick, upon brick, upon brick. But, they had done all that, they - as [far as] they could see - were obeying God, but as they looked around them, as they looked to the clouds, as they looked to the fields, there was still drought in the nation - God didn't seem to be answering their obedience.
Why was it? You see, they expected that the moment that they obeyed God and they started rebuilding the temple, that that very day, that very moment and minute of obedience, that God would begin to work again, that God would bless them, that God would bring the rain and bring the harvest once more - but it didn't come! The blessing was not coming. And you might be here this evening, and you might be in the deepest agony, the deepest pain that your heart could know - you might be going through turmoil, physically, mentally, spiritually - and you feel, at this moment, that you have done everything before God that you can do within your soul - yet God isn't answering!
Why was the blessing not coming? Turn with me for a moment to the book of Zechariah, it's just after the book of Haggai - and you'll note that Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, they all prophesy to the same situation. They are all post-exilic prophets - we remember that we learnt that a post-exilic prophet was a prophet that prophesied after the people came out of captivity. And Zechariah, in chapter 3 and verse 1, he is prophesying to exactly the same generation, verse 1: 'And he showed me' - he sees a vision - 'Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by. And the angel of the Lord protested unto Joshua, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by'. Do you see the picture? Who was Joshua? It's not the old Joshua that we're talking about, from the book of Joshua, now - it's Joshua the high priest of the nation of Judah at this moment of time, in the book of Haggai and the book of Zechariah. And as the prophet sees, from a vision of God, Joshua standing there, he sees Satan beside him - and I believe that Satan is laughing, because from head to foot Joshua is standing in filthy clothes, in raiment that is defiled.
Why had the rain stopped? Why was there no harvest? Why was there no blessing? Sure, they were stirred to the depths of their souls - surely they had God the Holy Spirit speaking to them, they had the word of God from the prophet of God, the message of God - verse 13 of chapter 1 - they had everything, you would think, but the blessing still wasn't coming down. Why? Because sin lieth at the door. What am I talking about? Zechariah, as he saw Joshua from head to toe in filthy garments, that was a picture of the nation's sin. They were so sinful - even though they had been stirred to the depths of the being, their bones were shaken by God the Holy Spirit in chapter 1 - they still were disobedient to God, they still had sin in their life and, one month before Haggai gave this message that we read this evening, Zechariah prophesied the same thing against them. And Haggai with his 'gospel bullets' from his 'gospel gun', one after another, again and again and again, was giving out this message - and in his third message here, in verse 10 on, on the 24th day of the ninth month, the 18th of December 520BC, he gives this awful message.
I don't know about you, but in the Christian life I find this: whenever I hear the word of God, and perhaps I hear someone preaching the word of God and it grips my soul, and like these children in chapter 1 and verse 14 it stirs my spirit, it makes me feel that I ought to do something - but when I walk away from God's presence I can be so disobedient! Is that not right? Maybe as we have studied these words - and we've heard what these minor prophets have had to say, and we've looked at them week after week - our souls and our spirits, our being, have been stirred by the word of God. But what Haggai's saying here to these people: 'You've heard it, children of Judah, you have been stirred, you have been moved to the depths of your souls - yet you're still disobedient!'. That's why the blessing isn't coming. I find, in my Christian life, I'm a bit like a donkey - I might look like a donkey, but that's not what I'm talking about! You know, when you get a carrot and you hang it on a string and a stick and you put it in front of the donkey and you keep walking with it, the donkey keeps walking after it - that's the way I feel sometimes as a Christian. You see if I knew, if I really knew, that what Paul talks about in the New Testament, what the Lord Jesus Christ exemplified in His life here on earth, if I thought it was impossible it wouldn't bother me as much! But the fact is this: that through the Holy Spirit of God it is possible. And everything He has told us to do - He's not some sadist that tells us to do these things, and watches as we can't do it! But what frustrates me the most is how I know what is mine in Christ, what I can have in Him - yet it frustrates me that I don't have it! The people were asking the question: 'Why is the blessing not coming?'. You might be here this evening, and you could be asking yourself: 'I hear the word of God and I feel the word of God in my own soul, I know the word of God - but the blessing doesn't seem to be in my life! I'm a defeated Christian, when something comes across my path - whether it's sin, whether it's sorrow, whether it's sickness - I fall down under it, I'm defeated!'. The answer that was given here is a fourfold message of how to bring God's blessing down.
Let's look at the first point of Haggai's message that we find in verses 10 to 14. Look at verses 10 to 14: 'In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts', now here it is, 'Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying...'. Now, in the Old Testament dispensation when you had a question about ritual things and the ceremony of religion, you were to go and ask of the mouth of the priests - that's what the word of God says. So Haggai, he goes because he's got a big question: why God's blessing isn't coming - he goes to the priests, the men that should know, and he asks of their mouth and he says in verse 12: 'If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean'. Now what Haggai was doing here - and what God the Holy Spirit is doing for us at this moment in time - is giving us an awesome object lesson.
You see, Haggai asked two questions concerning the ceremonial law of these priests. You see, what happened when they were about to make a sacrifice, the priest would take holy flesh - and the holy flesh from the beast was simply the best part of the sacrifice - that was the part of the sacrifice that would be offered to God. It was the piece that was set aside especially for God. But what would happen was, the priest would take his robe and he would make like a little apron out of it, and he would put the flesh - this holy flesh - within it. And Haggai was asking the priest, listen: you see if he were to walk into that tabernacle or into the temple, and perhaps that piece of holy flesh would touch another piece of bread, or a piece of meat, or some wine, or some oil - some other food - would that holy flesh make the other food holy? The answer that the priests gave was: 'No'.
That was the first question. Now I want you to turn with me for a moment to Leviticus chapter 6, because here we find the principle, Leviticus chapter 6 and verse 27. You see, the garment that the priest wore, that the holy flesh [was] within, became holy. Verse 27: 'Whatsoever shall touch the flesh thereof shall be holy' - but that did not mean that everything that came into contact with this holy flesh became holy of itself. If it touched other food, if it touched the furniture in the temple or in the tabernacle, did that mean that that holiness was transferred from the holy flesh into whatever was defiled? The priests said it didn't. Then the second question that was given by Haggai to the priests is found in verse 13 - he then talks, not about ritual holiness, but he asks a question about ritual defilement. In other words: can moral uncleanness be transferred and defile something that is holy? In other words: if you're unholy, or if something is unholy, and it comes into contact with something that is awesomely holy, can it defile that thing? The answer, from verse 13, that the priests gave was: 'Yes it can'.
Now let's look at a bit of background, it's important that we understand this this evening. Turn with me to Numbers chapter 19 - now, in the old ceremonial law, we have this law about what is unclean and about what is clean. Numbers chapter 19 and verse 13, there are many things were classed as unclean within the Old Testament, but we're going to look at the one thing that Haggai mentions in verse 13 - which is a dead body. Verse 13: 'Whosoever toucheth the dead body of any man that is dead, and purifieth not himself, defileth the tabernacle of the Lord; and that soul shall be cut off from Israel: because the water of separation was not sprinkled upon him, he shall be unclean; his uncleanness is yet upon him'. Now why did God say this? There are so many obscure rules and principles that are in the Old Testament, especially the first five books of the Bible - they seem unreasonable, it's hard to make them intelligible: why these people were not allowed to touch certain things, eat of certain things - what was it? Turn with me to Leviticus, Leviticus and chapter 10, now here we have, categorically, God telling us why He gave all these rules to the children of Israel about not touching this and being allowed to touch other things. Leviticus 10 verse 10: '[This is all given] that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; and that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses'. Why are they not allowed to eat certain things? Why were they not allowed to touch certain things? Because God was trying to teach them in a spiritual sense, not a physical sense, that there are certain things in this world that are clean and unclean.
The two questions that Haggai asked the priests were simply this - the answers that were given - first of all, to his first question, was that holiness cannot be transferred. The second answer, to the second question, was this: although holiness cannot be transferred, filthiness always, but always, is transferred. Let me give you an illustration: think of science - and you know as well as I do that you could be the fittest person on this planet, you could be so healthy, everything could be going your way, but you cannot transfer your health, can you? But if you have a cold, or if you have a flu or a virus, you know that anybody who comes within a radius of you is in danger of catching it - in the same way health cannot be transferred, germs and disease is transferred; holiness can't be transferred, but the disease of sin, iniquity and transgression and evil filthiness is always transferred. Now, what was Haggai trying to say to these people? He was telling them that sin lay in the camp. He was telling them that - even though they had been stirred by the word of God, even though they had been motivated by it to get up, to get going and to put one stone upon a stone to build the temple - the evil, wicked sinfulness that was in their life was being transferred from their heart, down their arm to the very bricks that they were building for God. Do you get what he was saying? 'Your sinfulness, children of Judah, is being transferred into the work of God!'.
What did we hear some time ago from Psalm 24? 'Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? Who shall stand in His holy place?', and the Psalmist is talking about the temple of God, 'Him that hath clean hands, a pure heart'. The book of Proverbs tells us that the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord - what is the application here? What is the message of the Spirit of God to us today? It's this: that holy things cannot make you holy! And the priest was in his holy garments, he was carrying the holy flesh - and that holy flesh was an offering to God, the best offering that could be given - yet if it came into contact with anything else it couldn't be made holy. Oh, that we would learn this: that carrying our Bible doesn't make us holy; sisters, wearing a headcovering doesn't make your heart holy; praying to God doesn't make us holy; giving alms doesn't make us holy. Saying the words, going to church, where our feet take us, where our mind brings us cannot make us holy, because coming into contact with holy things can never change the heart.
But secondly it tells us that unclean things make us unholy. And although that holiness of the word of God, when we touch it, cannot be transferred into our souls and into our minds - when we touch what is unclean, when we touch what is defiled, oh, it comes into our very souls, into our very hearts, it defiles us! Now Christian, let me say on the strongest terms: if you are touching unclean things, you will be defiled. We cannot, as human beings, touch unclean things - we are like magnets to unclean things, they are transferred to us, they're embedded in our mind, in our soul. And the tragedy of it is this: like the children of Judah, no matter how long we're saved, no matter what we do for God, or say for God, or know about God - if we have defilement, if we have sin in our lives and filthiness somewhere within us, it defiles everything else that we are doing for God! That is the message within this passage.
Turn with me, for a moment, to Romans chapter 6. Now, here we have outlined the law that I have just been talking about - Romans chapter 6 and verse 21. And Paul has just been talking about how the child that is unsaved is a servant to sin, and in verse 21 he says: 'What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death'. What is the fruit of sin? Sin - from the very first day that it came into the universe - sin brought forth death! Do you see the picture? The Jew that touched a dead body is for us as the children of God today, as us - we who touch dead things, who touch sin, who go about with dead people and partake of their dead activities. Do you remember the prodigal son? Oh, he got his inheritance from his father, he went into the far country and he spent it all - and you remember that, when all his friends left him because he had no more inheritance left for them to spend, where was he found? Eating with the pigs - and what are the pigs in scripture? Swine, pork, is the unclean animal - and what that is saying to us here is: he was left unclean because he was touching the dead things. What about the demoniac? Do you remember him? Possessed, cutting himself, bleeding, crying, out of his mind - and the Lord Jesus came to him. But where was he living when He came? It says that he was living in a cemetery with dead people, he was inhabited around by those whom he was like! And then the Lord came and - blessed be His name - as soon as he saw the Lord he ran to His feet, and it says that he worshipped Him. But when the Lord cast the demons out of him, what did they go into? The pigs - and they all ran down, thousands of them, into that water and drowned - dead pigs! A picture of our sin, a picture of the uncleanness that we will have if we as the children of God touch those things that are dead.
Christian, are you touching what's dead? You know what I'm talking about. We live in such a sinful world, don't we? Such a sin-cursed place, that at every hand - you can't go into a newsagents without being hit in the face with sin, you can't turn the television or the radio on, you can't drive in your car without seeing a billboard - it's coming from everywhere, all the sin in this world and it's so hard to walk the narrow way and remain undefiled! What is the Christian to do? Paul tells us - turn with me to 2 Corinthians chapter 6 and verse 14 - 'Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers', and here's the rule for the child of God, 'for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you'. Can you see it? The children of Judah, and they're walking around the scaffolding of this temple building, and they're pulling their hair out asking the question, 'Why? We've been stirred, we've heard, we've done what God has told us - why is this happening? Why isn't our work being blessed? Why isn't God's blessing coming down?'. And the answer comes from the word of God through Haggai, his first point: 'You need to confess'.
You see, the man who uncovers his own sins, God covers them over. And we're so prone, the sinners that we are, to cover our sin and to hide our sin - and when we hide our sin God has to strip our sins away until we become bare. But if you want to know your spiritual temperature, like the Judeans here in this passage, ask yourself: 'What is the time lapse in my life between me sinning and then confessing my sin?'. You see, these Judeans were living with their sin - oh, they were obeying the Lord in many ways, they were following His path, they were doing what He told them - to build the temple of God in the ways that they knew how - but it was easy to get sin out of their heart, it was easy for them to do wrong, but it was so hard for them to get sin out of their mouth, for them to confess it! Do we deceive ourselves? You know, we can, we can do rational and logical somersaults in our minds to legitimise our sin, to tell ourselves that it's alright to do it. We can make all these excuses within ourselves, but at the end of the day God says that it is only obedience that He will bless! And until we, as the children of God, see the seriousness of our awful sinfulness and the sinfulness of sin, we will never confess it! We will never be done with it! We will never bury it! We will never turn our back on it!
How can you see the seriousness of your sin? Turn with me to Numbers chapter 5 for a moment, Numbers chapter 5 and verses 2 and 3 tell us what happened to the unclean person that was in the nation of Judah. Verse 2: 'Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead: Both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them; that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell' - do you see the seriousness of this? To be defiled, to be unclean, to be touched by a dead thing, to be doing what God said not to do meant a break, a severing, a divorce of fellowship between the child of God and his God. Separation! Sin is very serious - and to see how serious it is we need to turn to Hebrews chapter 13, do that with me for a moment. Hebrews chapter 13, verse 11: 'For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp' - what is burned without the camp? The sacrifice for uncleanness, the sacrifice for iniquity, the sin offering, the thing that has touched dead things, those people that have done wrong their offering was burnt outside the camp - look at verse 12: 'Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate'. Do you see how serious our sin is? Our uncleanness, whether saved or unsaved, as the child of God or the child of the devil, do you see how serious it is? That our Lord Jesus Christ, like that beast, had to be despised - He had to be put out of the camp, He had to be rejected of His friends, of His family, of His kindred, of His nation, He had to be pushed out into all separation because of our sin! Do you see it? He was put without the camp, but worse than all that separation, He was separated from His own Father. And He hung there, and because of your sin, and because of my sin, God turned His face from His only Beloved Son - and He cried: 'My God! Why!'. Why? Because of our dead things.
But look secondly, and quickly, he said you need to confess...but you need to be holy. Verse 14 of Haggai chapter 2, and Haggai brought the application of their illustration to them: 'Then [he] answered, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the Lord; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean'. 'You're asking Me, children, why the work isn't blessed, why the harvest hasn't come, why there is drought and there is no rain - it's because your deadness and your touching dead things has been transferred into the work of God!'. You see in Exodus 19, if we had time we could look at, and verse 6, God told His people Israel, when He chose them, that they were a peculiar people, that they were a special people - but they were to be a holy people! If they were to take the name of God they had to be holy. And God was telling His beloved children: 'If you're to have the blessing, if you're wondering why the blessing's not coming, it's because of the lack of holiness' - and generally speaking, God is saying that you must be holy for God to bless you! God doesn't bless unclean hands and an impure heart. 'You must be holy', God says, 'even as I am holy' - and without holiness no man shall see the Lord!
You see, the Holy Ghost doesn't flow through methods, He flows through holy men. God blesses holy men and women - and the gospel moves when holy men and women of God move with it in their holy life that reflects the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Dead men, and dead Christians, and dead preachers give out dead messages and dead salvations - and all they do is kill as they preach - but the man of God that is filled with the Spirit, the woman of God who goes about their daily business sharing the gospel, bringing the good news of the message in the Holy Spirit and filled with the Holy Spirit, brings forth life. If you remember, in the Old Testament, the high priest wore a little platelet of jewels - and do you remember what was inscribed upon it? 'Holiness to the Lord'. He was a priest, he was the high priest, he was ministering to the Lord, he was doing things for the Lord - but we read in 1 Peter chapter 2 and verse 5, that we in Christ have become a holy priesthood, a holy nation. And just as Israel were the children of God then, the church is the children of God now - we are the bearers of the name of God, the light in a dark place, the salt in the earth - and we are to have the same title upon us: 'Holiness to the Lord'. Do we have it? Do we have God's holiness?
God tells us, through Paul in 1 Corinthians 6 and verses 19 and 20, that not only is there a temple that was made with hands in the Old Testament, but He tells us that not only are we the priests of God - every single one of us, not just ministers or pastors, but everyone of us is a priest, therefore every one of us ought to be holy - but we also are walking buildings of God Himself, we are the temples of God! He says: 'For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness'. Are you the temple of the Holy Spirit? Are you, as a child of God, blessed with holiness of God? Do you know what it is to be filled with the Holy Spirit? To flee from iniquity? To not touch that thing? To be holy in your life?
Look thirdly at his message in verses 15 to 18, for he tells them there not just to confess their sin, not just to be holy, but he tells them that they need to examine themselves. Do you remember the message that came, not just once, twice, three times in this passage that we read? We've heard it already - what was his great clarion call? 'Consider yourself! Consider yourself! Consider your ways before God!' - and again, in verse 14, he calls them 'this people', not His own people. He says you're going to have to consider yourself, self-examine yourself - verse 15 - and if you do, this day and upward I will bless you. What He was meaning was this: for sixteen years, before a stone had ever been put on another stone, after that point when they had been discouraged and they stopped the work of God, no blessing came, no rain came, no harvest came - and year after year they came to harvest the wheat, and they were expecting 20 measures but they only got 10, 50% of a loss. They came back again looking for the wine vats, they looked for 50 vessels and they only got 20 and he asks them this question: 'Consider why this is happening children, consider why there is a low harvest' - and in verse 19 He says this, after telling them to consider three times: 'Is the seed yet in the barn?'. You've heard the word of God, you've prayed about the word of God, you've taken the exhortation, you may even have started acting on the word of God - but, Judeans, if there is sin in your life there will be no seed in the barn.
Do you want to be a fruitful Christian? Do you want to be a Christian with joy in your step, with blessing in your soul and in your heart and in your life? Do we want to be a church that God blesses with the growth of Christians, with Christian love in our hearts for one another, with a place were souls will be born? If we are, we must be done with sin! Because we must be blessed. And Haggai, at the end of this message, after asking 'What's the harvest like?', he says this: 'From this day I will bless you'. Since the 21st of September 520BC they had heard the word of God, the first message, and in chapter 1 verse 14 they were stirred about it; and then in the second message they began to work about it. But God, as he told Amos in chapter 4 of his little book, He said unto them again, and again, and again: 'Ye have not turned onto Me!. 'Rend your hearts and not your garments', He is saying - it's OK to have the words, to have the walk and to have the talk, but you must forsake your sin - why did Amos say it? Verse 19: 'Prepare to meet thy God' - you see, there is a day when all of us as believers will stand before our Lord Jesus Christ and we will look into His glorified face, and the word of God says this: that we will 'suffer loss' if we have not given all.
The blessing that I receive from this verse is this: that on this date, the 18th of December when this message was given 520BC, there was a watershed in the Judeans life. They realised it's not enough to be stirred by the word of God, it's not enough to talk about the word of God and to bless by the word of God, it's not even enough to obey the word of God if we haven't got the sin out of our lives. And at that moment in time, despite their sin - despite their sin! - God cleansed them because they confessed to Him, and when they uncovered their sin, God covered their sin and God told them: 'From this moment in time I will start to bless you!'. Oh, there is blessing, there is so much blessing for the child of God that hears the word of God, the child of God that is stirred by the word of God, the child of God that obeys the word of God - but oh, more than all that, finishing off, we need to realise that there is blessing that comes down from God for the child of God that forsakes their sin! What did Wesley say? He said: 'Give me a hundred men that fear nothing but God and sin, and I'll turn the world upside-down'.
What does God say to our hearts today? He said what He said to the prophet Malachi: 'Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house...prove me now', test me here, 'saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room to receive it'.
'Where is the blessedness I knew,
When first I saw Lord?
Where is that soul-refreshing view,
Of Jesus and His love?
Return, oh Heavenly Dove, return,
Sweet Messenger of rest.
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn,
And drove Thee from my breast'.
Our Father, we remember that the prophet Isaiah told us that, when the Lord Jesus would come, that there would be a highway of holiness. Lord, forgive us when we do not walk on that path and help us to confess our sins - for He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And help us to be holy, even as Thou art holy, and help us continually to examine ourselves and then - oh, when we're rid of sin in our lives - then God's blessing comes down. May it be said of us in this place, in the light of Thy truth, 'From this day I will bless thee'. We pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the third tape in his Haggai series, titled "Bringing God's Blessing Down" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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