In the Mosaic Covenant Christ taught the people to avoid various forms of uncleanness and to be physically clean in order to partake of the physically holy things.
This is an allegory and teaching tool to instruct us that we need to be spiritually clean to be holy as God is holy as a fit place for his spirit to reside.
We must keep ourselves physically clean as a continual lesson that we are to remain spiritually clean from all sin and spiritual pollution.
The physical rules of clean and unclean; teach us that only a person spiritually clean and pure from all pollution of sin may enter into the presence of God.
The lesson is that spiritually; it takes a CONSCIOUS INTENSE EFFORT to cleanse ourselves from the uncleanness of sin and to make ourselves a clean spiritual abode for the spirit of God.
To be spiritually clean we must learn to discern between the Holy and the profane; and to accept the Holy while utterly rejecting the profane as utter despicable filth.
That lesson begins with keeping ourselves as clean as we can in the physical plane, and working with the power of God’s spirit to cleanse ourselves spiritually from all sin including even keeping our thoughts pure and Holy.
Galatians 5:19-21 Works of the Flesh ~ Uncleanness
In Exodus 20 and in Deuteronomy 5 we are given God’s Ten Commandments and the first two have to do with idolatry. The first one tells us that we must not put anything or anyone before God.
Exodus 20:1 And God spake all these words, saying, 20:2 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
And the second commandment prohibits the making of graven images or pictures to represent anything that we would worship. We are told not to bow down to anything nor to serve anything as if it were a god and not to have any false images to serve as “aids” to worship as symbolic of a god or even of the true God.
Exodus 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Both of these commandments are talking about idolatry, which is putting other things before the true God, the Creator of heaven and earth; whether they are things visible or invisible, physical or nonphysical.
These two first commandments are directly to do with idolatry; but any time we break any of God’s commandments, we turn from Him and we are putting other things before the true God.
In Romans 1, Paul goes into much detail about how mankind has rejected the knowledge of God even though the natural world reveals the attributes of God and the fact that there must be a Creator for the things we can see. And because men turn from worshiping God and go after idols, God gives them over to uncleanness as a consequence of rejecting Him and His commandments, they go lusting after profane things.
When mankind commits idolatry by denying the true God; from there it is a slippery slope into debasement and corruption; their sins progressively become more and more perverted.
It begins by refusing to acknowledge God as their LORD and Master, which in turn tends to make them look to false gods in their own making. When they turn from God’s holy and good laws and His righteousness, they embrace Satan and his demonic ways and accept his doctrine and follow his example as their guide for living. Paul says that because men reject God, mock Him and His instructions for living found in the Bible, He gives them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient [proper or fitting], the things that they want to do from their debased, carnal, pleasure seeking heart.
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 1:22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
People can become so tolerant of these evils, that in some cases they come to the place that they think of these things as normal and justified, and believe that they have basic human rights to do them. Generally, these people who seek their pleasure in these ways despise those who tell them that these kinds of things are evil.
“The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.” (John 7:7)
In the following verses, Paul then goes on with a whole list of things that God considers as vile; unclean. Paul gives these examples of perverse behaviors, all of which are the manifestation of sin in the hearts and minds of men. They do these things because they take pleasure in these things rather than finding their pleasure in pleasing God.
Romans 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 1:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 1:31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
This week we address the works of the flesh; uncleanness. The Greek word used in Galatians 5:19 for uncleanness is akatharsis and also akathartos (Strong’s #167, #169) and means impure (ceremonially, morally (lewd) or specially, (demonic) — foul, unclean. From akathartos; impurity (the state), morally — filthiness. (Strong’s Concordance)
One who lives according to the flesh will manifest the works that are listed in Galatians 5:19-21, and uncleanness is the type of work of the flesh that is defiling, it pollutes, it makes one spiritually filthy in the eyes of God. As we examine this particular work of the flesh, we will see just how ugly and repulsive uncleanness is in contrast to the fruit of the Spirit. To be unclean is not fitting for one who is a child of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
This is a partial list of the works of the flesh and from saying “and the like” at the end of the list, Paul is indicating that he could name even more. But he gives enough examples of kinds of sinful behavior that show the ways that evil can manifest itself, but every manifestation of evil is disgusting and filthy.
As Christians who have come out of the world and have repented of our own past sins and are now renewed in the Spirit, these things are sickening to us as well.
Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
In 1st Corinthians 6, Paul highlights the kinds of people that will not be in God’s Kingdom. He then goes on to say that if we have become Christ’s and have turned away from these things we have been washed and have been made clean by Jesus Himself and we are now sanctified, [set apart, made holy], and have become justified by the forgiveness of the applied sacrifice of Christ’s own blood and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 6:10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Anything that falls short of God’s perfect holy righteousness is profane; it pollutes and defiles, thereby making the sinful unclean and disgusting. And since everything about God is holy, anything that departs from His holiness is unclean.
The opposite of holiness [purity and cleanness] is uncleanness. The angels that are obedient to God are called holy angels and the angels that rebelled and do not serve God are called unclean or foul spirits.
Why is sin called, or symbolized by uncleanness?
Dirt and filthiness cause deterioration, decay, disease, death, ugliness, is smelly, and makes life miserable in the physical realm and therefore is an allegory of what sin and wickedness do in the spiritual realm. All sin is an abomination [is disgusting] to God for He is a Holy God and He will not tolerate living with evil.
Psalm 5:4 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.
The works of the flesh have littered the human landscape with misery, violence, disease, poverty, and death. God created a perfect pristine beautiful garden for Adam to tend and to keep, but ever since he and Eve took of the forbidden fruit, the earth has been cursed with the effects of rebellion against God and His perfect laws.
Another word that can mean to defile or to pollute is profane. The Hebrew word for profane is chalal: (Strong’s #2490c) and means to to pollute, defile, profane.
Satan is the originator of what it means to become profane. He was the very first of God’s created angel beings to become puffed up with pride. It was because of his beauty and intelligence, which came from God who had gifted him by creating him as such.
We know that it was he [Satan]who came in the form of a serpent to tempt Eve.
Ezekiel 28:13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 28:14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
28:15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. 28:16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 28:17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
Satan is the author, the original creator, and instigator of sin, but mankind was created as free moral agents and can choose to obey Satan’s prompting or choose to obey God and His commandments. Paul tells us in Ephesians that Satan is the prince of the air and “works” in the children of disobedience. His influence is spiritual in nature and is invisible (invisible like sound or electronic waves) that can prompt humans to do his bidding if they are ignorant of his devises; and in most cases people are ignorant even of his existence. Those who are not seeking God and don’t care if their works are not pleasing to Him are easy targets.
Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
In several places in the Old and New Testaments the devil is called “Baalzebub”.
The Hebrew Word for Baalzebub is Baal (Strong’s #1167 – owner, lord) and zbuwb (Strong’s #2070 – fly)
The full name for Baal-zebub is (Strong’s #1176) Baal of (the) Fly; Baal-Zebub, a special deity of the Ekronites – Baal-zebub. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
Baalzebub was a Philistine god at Ekron (2nd Kings 1:2). Later this name came to denote Satan. The name Baal Zebub transliterated into Greek gives the familiar name as Beelzebub as mentioned in Matthew 10:25.
2 Kings 1:2 And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease.
Mark 3:22 And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.
In Matthew 10, Jesus is teaching that if He is being called this despicable name, then His disciples would be called by this name as well. He was referring to the name the Jews of His day used for Satan that meant Lord of the Flies (or Dung).
Matthew 10:25 It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?
The entomology of the word gives us an even firmer grasp of why Satan and his demons are called unclean spirits and how it describes the characteristics of these evil beings. Here is some history of this name for Satan that the Jews of Jesus day understood it to mean.
“Beelzebub.-The Greek gives the form Beel-zebul. Its history illustrates some interesting phases of Jewish thought. (1.) It appears in the form Baal-zebub, the “Lord of flies” (probably as sending or averting the swarms of flies or locusts that are one of the plagues of the East), as the name of a god worshiped by the Philistines at Ekron, and consulted as an oracle (2 Kings 1:2) in cases of disease. (2.) Later Jews, identifying all heathen deities with evil spirits, saw in the god of their nearest and most hated neighbours the chief or prince of those “demons,” and in their scorn transformed the name into Baal-zebel, which would mean “Lord of dung,” or Baal-zebul, “Lord of the dwelling”-i.e., of the house of the evil spirits who are the enemies of God. ” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers)
Flies love garbage and the worst kind of refuse. They in essence love filth and dirt. Their habitation is in anything vile. The worship of Baalzebub used to be accompanied by all kinds of filthy, perverted, and lascivious sexual rites, plus the sacrifice of innocent living children on the fires of his altars.
Baal who is the first part of this word was worshiped by many peoples from the Egyptians to the Israelites and Jews, and it seems the Assyrians, Philistines, and Moabites; all heathen people who were devil worshipers, were especially fond of this particular god. Queen Jezebel was a worshiper of this idol, and she tried to coerce the citizens of the nation of Israel to worship him as well. She mercilessly sought to wipe out all the worshipers of the God of Israel; anyone who refused to accept her Baal god.
In Judges 2 we read about how Israel became unfaithful to keep the Marriage Covenant and departed from the Lord to serve Baal and also another false god, Ashtaroth.
Judges 2:11 And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim:2:12 And they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, which brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods, of the gods of the people that were round about them, and bowed themselves unto them, and provoked the Lord to anger. 2:13 And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.
Both Gideon and Samson, as servants of God, chopped down Baal’s altars and groves, and ripped down his temples and fought against the worship of Baal by the people.
During wicked Ahab’s reign as king over the nation of Israel and after confronting the people to make up their minds to either follow the LORD as their God or to follow Baal, Elijah caused the people to slay 450 of his false prophets.
This false god, which was really Satan, continually troubled the children of Israel and Judah throughout the days of the Kings, with the bad kings worshiping him, and the good kings trying to stamp out his worship. Even the Prophet Jeremiah blamed the worship of Baal, who is also the god of Baalzebub, for the fall of Judah.
Jeremiah 2:1 Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 2:2 Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. 2:3 Israel was holiness unto the Lord, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the Lord. 2:4 Hear ye the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel: 2:5 Thus saith the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain? 2:6 Neither said they, Where is the Lord that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt?
2:7 And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled my land, and made mine heritage an abomination. 2:8 The priests said not, Where is the Lord? and they that handle the law knew me not: the pastors also transgressed against me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal, and walked after things that do not profit.
Today, in modern day Israel and Judah the worship of this evil wicked spirit is alive and well. The false churches worship him with many of the same emblems, graven images, and monuments under different names and guises. We are a people of uncleanness as we seek after the god of this world who is the real basis of the counterfeit religions of the world; and we as a people go after his doctrines and teachings that are diametrically the opposite of God’s teachings and His ways.
Isaiah 2:6 Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers. 2:7 Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots: 2:8 Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made:
The people of Israel, and not only Israel but the whole world, are letting these foul spirits into their lives and into their environments with all their evil music, graphic movies, violent video games, homosexuality, gambling, drugs, pornography, cheating, adultery, abortion etc., etc.
Satan, as Lord of the Flies, is aptly called that, for as garbage attracts flies, so do these evil things attract the foul and unclean spirits. They are everywhere and are involved in every aspect of human endeavors and enterprises, contaminating the lives of mankind and the well being of the whole earth.
There are different degrees of filthiness in the natural world, as there are different degrees of the filthiness of sin in the spiritual realm. All sin is uncleanness and if a little dirt is allowed, (thinking that a little dirt doesn’t matter) it tends to grow even filthier and progresses, just as sin does, for a little leaven leavens the whole lump.
If we fail to be diligent in cleaning up small things, they will grow more and more into bigger things until the filth is impossible to clean and restore back to cleanliness. That is what is happening in our world and in our nation. The sin is so great and the people are becoming so perverse, that in our current times many have come to desire the worse of unclean things. Only the return of Christ coming with a rod of iron will be able to clean up the people and restore the planet back to pristine cleanliness.
As Christians, we are to abhor sin for its uncleanness; and if Christ lives in us, so we too must abhor everything that is unclean, which is any kind of evil and compromise or departure from the Word of God. We must cleanse our lives and our dwelling places of all spiritually unclean material to keep out the presence and oppression of these evil unclean spirits; just like we remove the garbage out of our homes to prevent flies.
As we grow and allow Christ to reign in these mortal bodies, we begin to be repelled by sin and evil to the degree that we cannot stand to be around evil anymore. Why would a Christian even want to get involved in things like violent movies, or videos about vampires, graphic video games, porn. Why would anyone with God’s Holy Spirit want to fellowship and follow those who pollute and profane God’s truth and His commandments.
I know Brethren, this is not a very pleasant topic, but this is a subject we cannot afford to be ignorant of even as the apostle Paul says in the verse below. Thus, we can see the importance of studying these things because not being awake and aware could keep us from eternal life and prevent us from being a part of God’s Kingdom. But if we have rid our lives of these evil things and are seeking to please God and filling our minds with His Word everyday, then we do not have to fear these things. John tells us that “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1st John 4:4)
2 Corinthians 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
2 Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Even those who appear to be servants of God, can be very deceptive; they can sound or look really good. False teachers may be hard to spot at first, but we must be on our guard and test all who claim to be doing the Lord’s work just as Christ admonished by His letter to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2:2.
Revelation 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
If we are not wise and awake to their deceptions and devices we can find ourselves tricked and fooled by them and led to forsake the truth of God. We then could forfeit all that Jesus and the Father have planned for us.
The near future (and even now) is going to be full of deception, seducers, deceivers and there will be those who will be able to perform supernatural miracles designed to fool even the elect if possible. We need to stay very close to God and seek to love His truth, to keep our minds fixed on Him and the things that are from above; rather being distracted by the fleeting pleasures that this world has to offer; always watching and praying.
2 Thessalonians 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 2:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Let Us Turn Away from the Dirt of This World and Seek Holiness
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are in the sanctification process of becoming holy as He is holy; if we are striving with all our hearts to live our lives following His example, walking in His footsteps and walking as He walked (1st John 2:6).
In our day to day walk with God, we will make progress in holiness as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit working in us and as we seek to know His ways. This comes as a result of yielding and submitting our minds and hearts more and more to the transforming power from abiding in Him, obeying His commandments and feeding on His Word.
Whether one is walking in the Spirit or walking according to the flesh; it will become evident in one’s life. Just as we can know a person by their fruits; the converse is true too, we can know them by their “works of the flesh” as well. A person’s heart is made evident by the kinds of things that flow from it. Jesus talked about this in many places, how the natural heart of a man will manifest itself by what comes out of the man’s mouth.
Matthew 15:18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 15:19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 15:20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.
Uncleanness is the filthiness of sin that springs forth from an impure and a profane heart and mind, that then becomes apparent in the person’s speech, habits, attitudes, behavior that is contrary to the ways of God.
Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
Scripture describes something that is profane is any impurity that prevents a person from approaching God; which includes the breaking of any of His commandments, whether in letter or in the spirit. Sin is defiling and separates us from a holy God that cannot abide with the filthiness of sin.
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 59:3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.
Just as God separates Himself from sin, we too must separate ourselves from the things that would cause us to become unclean, and we too must abhor evil so much so that we are disgusted with even the thought of sinning or being next to sin.
But if we are looking to Jesus and want to overcome sin and the works of the flesh, we can run to Him to give us the power to overcome and help us to become free from the sin that does so readily spring up within us.
Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
When Christians turn away from the filth of this world; God will free them from its uncleanness, and they are then able to become the servants of righteousness, instruments fit for the Master’s use and to do exploits for Him.
Romans 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 6:21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
2 Timothy 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
Daniel 11:32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.
As we make choices in life, choosing things that we allow or do not allow; making excellent and wise godly choices over choosing profane things, we are developing character: either good or bad character.
Our lives are training for us if we use the ability that God gives the sincerely repentant, to discern between the holy and the profane, the clean and the unclean, and we learn to decipher between good and bad and then the different degrees of good or bad.
We are in training to be priests and kings, teachers in the Kingdom of God and we will need to teach the people living who have come out of tribulation all the things of God and how to discern the difference between the holy and the unclean.
Ezekiel 44:23 And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. 44:24 And in controversy they shall stand in judgment; and they shall judge it according to my judgments: and they shall keep my laws and my statutes in all mine assemblies; and they shall hallow my sabbaths.
We must train our minds and direct our thoughts upon things that are pure versus things that are unclean.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
Paul prayed for the Philippians that they would abound in the knowledge of God and to become skilled judges of righteousness, by correctly approving the things that are excellent and truly good, and that they would be filled with the fruits of righteousness. We too can pray for these wonderful things to happen for ourselves and for our brethren, as Paul did.
Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 1:10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.1:11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.
God Wants Leaders Who Lead the Way in His Holiness
Leaders set the tone for those who look to them as leaders. This is especially true in families. A wife looks to her husband to lead her and the family; and both father and mother are looked to as leaders by their children. An owner of a company is the leader that the managers and employees look to. Teachers, doctors, older brothers and sisters, bus drivers, airline pilots, those in government positions, ministers, the list goes on and on; most people are leaders in some capacity. We must set the proper example by how we conduct our lives realizing that we are most likely influencing those that we are responsible for.
The ancient nations of Israel and Judah that we have been studying in Kings and Chronicles (and now Ezra and Nehemiah) are for our instruction. Those Books are not just old irrelevant histories; they are lessons and examples for us, to teach us how to avoid the same mistakes and the way to life eternal and how to be zealous for our Mighty God.
1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
Those books contain certain keys to understand what revival should look like on a spiritual plain in the Ekklesia today.
When the people went into deep idolatry and turned away from Elohim, the consequence would be that they would progress into the breaking of all of God’s commandments; even to the degree of sacrificing their own children in the fire.
They neglected the Temple and in the natural law of negligence and decay the Temple became polluted, desecrated, vandalized and fell into ruin. When a righteous king or priest came to rulership, he would see the need to clean God’s Temple up and would commission the people to clear out the refuse, restore it to the original beauty and orderliness, and make a way for proper sacrifices. He would instruct the priests and Levites to teach God’s Word faithfully.
So it is today. We are the Spiritual Temple of God. The history of his Ekkesia also involves a departing from the pure unadulterated faith that was once delivered to the saints by Jesus and His apostles. The book of Jude was written to the saints of Jude’s day, for he too could see that apostasy was beginning to become rampant at that time in the history of the church. Jude begins his letter by saying that he gave all diligence to write of the “common salvation” and that it was NEEDFUL for him to exhort them to earnestly contend for the faith that had been given to them.
If that message was needful at that time, how much more this message is needed today in the modern day Ekklesia as we are living in the very end times and we see how far we have drifted from the proper keeping of the commandments. We have allowed idolatry to enter by way of worshiping men and allowing ourselves to believe that they have the authority to change Gods rules and to even change the days that we keep His Holy days on. We do so by altering His way of determining the dates that we are to keep by looking to men, who look to other men who are very much confused in the clear truth found in the Scriptures; men who claim that they and they alone are our leaders.
Not only that, but very many other truths have become lost or changed to comply with traditions of misguided leaders rather than holding fast to the sound Biblical doctrine that the saints were taught by the Old Testament prophets and then the New Testament apostles, the faith that Jude is referring to in his message.
Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 1:4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
We cannot go back in time to change what happened in the past, but we can start right now to restore what has been lost, starting with ourselves, applying ourselves to studying God’s Word to see what it really teaches, and then stepping out in courage to confront those that are leading God’s people astray.
And if these leaders refuse to listen to the Word of God, by not even attempting to prove what they teach and are using ungodly tactics such as name calling or referring to past leadership icons as to why they teach such things, then it is time to go from their presence and not subject ourselves to their teachings anymore.
Why come under their umbrella of authority when they have lost all rights to authority by departing from faithfully teaching God’s word.
Each one of us can begin the cleaning process by saying no to deception and old traditions that are still being propagated in the church to this day. Now is the time to start mopping up the uncleanliness of the sins of the past.
We are now being warned and we are being shown the mistakes we have made and how we have been deceived into accepting traditions of men and tolerating the sin of going after other gods that are no gods.
Our present state has been inherited from our church fathers who were never really church fathers, but we were made to believe that they were, because they were so skilled in the way they told us that they were.
It is not swanky, fashionable clothing, gold rings, diplomas or certificates of higher education on the wall, who they were ordained by, religious sounding words that one can use, or even eloquent speaking abilities; that makes one a man of God.
It is the degree that a leader is willing to truly follow Christ, first in his own life by his godly example, and then by his zealous teaching of God’s truth and commandments; always pointing to Jesus Christ and the Holy Father as the ones we are to look to as our true authority.
Solomon tells us to leave and never listen to anyone who tries to teach us things that are not true knowledge consistent with every Word of God.
Proverbs 14:77 Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.
The following message in Malachi is to the Levites of Malachi’s day, but we are all in training to be spiritual priests and anyone who is looked to as a leader or a teacher should teach the keeping of all of God’s commandments and statutes and never cause those he is teaching to stumble aside from living by every Word of God by what he teaches.
Malachi 2:7 For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 2:8 But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.
The test of a godly leader is a diligent adherence to God’s Word and His laws.
Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Cleaning the Spiritual Temple
2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?6:15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 6:16 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. 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
If each one will do his part in cleaning up the Temple from all the past garbage and from trusting men (even when we could see and knew the fruits of their lives) we can spark a new revival in even these perilous times we live in.
We can be like a Hezekiah, Jehoiada, Josiah, Jehoshaphat, Daniel, Ezra or Nehemiah, a Paul or Stephen; and by spiritually revitalizing our own lives and then working to revitalize and renew a zeal for all the ways of God in the Bride of Christ in these latter days, we can prepare ourselves and our brethren to have a part in the pure and clean collective Bride of Christ.
Then when the Kingdom is set up, we can apply that experience to really start cleaning and renovating the earth and helping the remnant to return to God with all their hearts, just like we have had to do.
And this is not just an option, but Christ is commanding us to do it. Every letter to the churches in Revelation have some aspect of getting ready and prepared by ridding ourselves of idols, turning away from deceivers, cleaning up our acts, repenting and then holding fast to everything that is Holy and True.
Here are some ways we are to clean the Spiritual Temple, and to keep it clean, as per the messages to the seven churches in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3.
1.Regain our first love; become zealous once again.
2.Be faithful unto death.
3.Repent of tolerating those who hold to the doctrine of Balaam.
4.Repent of tolerating those who hold to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.
5.Repent of tolerating Jezebel (false religions and their false doctrines).
6.Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain but are ready to die.
7.Keep the word of God’s patience.
8.Hold fast to God and His truth and let no man take your crown.
9.Repent of being lukewarm and become zealous for God and His commandments.
10.Repent of thinking we are rich, that we know enough and have no further need to keep learning and to keep proving; but seek to understand God’s truth more fully as the seals are coming off those things that have been hidden from us. (Daniel 12: 4, 9)
11.Be clothed in white raiment, (be clothed with righteousness).
12.Anoint our eyes with eyesalve that we may see (seek spiritual healing and correction for our past deception and sins so that we can more clearly see God’s plan and purpose and then we can be rich in knowing and understanding His spiritual things).
13.Realize that if God loves us, He will rebuke and chasten us if we are wrong; we need to accept his chastening, repent and be zealous.
14.Open the door when Christ knocks and let Him into our lives and be submissive to Him in all things, letting Him be our Lord and Master with no idols before Him.
We know that we are to repent of anything that is unclean which is sin of any kind, but these messages address situations that had become rampant in the Ekklesia even in the time when the apostles were warning that these things were happening (See 2 Peter 2, 1 John 2:18-19 3:7-10, 4:1-6, 2 John 7-11, 3 John 9-11, and the whole chapter of Jude).
These sins of apostasy were becoming prolific in the early years of the church in the time of the apostles and have continued exponentially right down unto our day. And the kinds of sins that Christ is warning against in these seven messages are the kinds of things that tend to lead to other sins because they are idolatrous in nature. They are sins of idolatry such as losing our first love, tolerating false doctrines of Balaam, Nicolaitans, Jezebel, drifting from the truth that was originally taught, and becoming lukewarm in serving God and obeying His every word; becoming lackadaisical in our living for Him and doing what He wants us to do. In Christ’s messages we are admonished that we need to put God first in our lives, and not go after these false prophets and their doctrines which lead to breaking all the rest of the commandments.
The messages contain instruction for us as to how the bride can prepare herself to be completely rid of the dirt and filthiness that we have brought in by trying to have one foot in the church and one foot in the world, and by tolerating sin and sinful teachers in our midst. As Elijah said to the gathered crowds of idolatrous Israelites, ….”How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him…..” (1st Kings 18:21)
The spiritually called out are in the process of being cleaned up, washed with the water of the Word for those who are now seeing the need for such cleansing. Many are waking up and seeing the sins that we have carried for so long and are beginning to change themselves when they realize that we have been so wrong for all these years in many things that we just didn’t know were wrong at the time.
But now that we do know, we must quickly repent and bring our lives in alignment to reflect the things that God has shown to us; whether its the calendar issue, polluting the Sabbath and Holy Days, embracing the Nicolaitan Doctrine or embracing doctrines that didn’t really make sense according to Scripture. These are the teachings or prophecies that we believed because they were handed down to us from church leaders who just could not understand them because it was not time for these things to be opened to us yet. But now these things are being opened and shown to us and there is a growing number of those who do want to study, learn, prove doctrines to either be true or untrue. And then there are those who absolutely refuse to even consider that they have been wrong and will not look into doctrinal errors or wrong teachings that they are supporting.
Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. 3:2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
3:3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
3:4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.
Christ loves His Ekklesia too much to allow her to stay immersed in the sins and false doctrine that have lead us astray for all these years, including the exaltation of mere men and holding to the Nicolaitan way of thinking that exalts church leaders above the word of God. This is the doctrine that Jesus says He hates in Revelation 2 which teaches us to put church leadership in the place of Jesus Christ as our mediator and intercessor, thereby keeping God’s people captive into doing and believing whatever they say. This teaching keeps many locked into still believing and trusting these leaders even when they are not doing their jobs of teaching and caring for God’s sheep as proper shepherds in the way that God outlines for those He calls to feed His sheep and love them as He loves them.
We who are the spiritually called out and are alert to and hearing Christ’s messages to the churches in these end times, can do our part to help in removing the spots and blemishes of error and sin that have rubbed off from being born into and living in this unclean world. These unclean things, with God’s help and by His washing, must be removed from all those who will be chosen to have a part in the collective Bride of Christ.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
The Spiritual Israel of God will be a Kingdom of Holy and Righteous Priests
What a beautiful and marvelous future we have before us if we will become the leaders that Jesus Christ and His Father want us to be. We will be those kings of the (a restored and beautified) earth that will bring their glory and honor to Christ and the Father. Do we realize the significance of what God is saying in this verse?
Revelation 21:24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it [into the New Jerusalem]. 21:25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 21:26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Zechariah 8:20-23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities: And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also. Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.
Exodus 19:5-6 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.
Isaiah 35:8 And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
Obeying God’s Truth Unto the End
Ephesians 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 4:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. 4:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4:4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 4:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
4:6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 4:7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 4:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 4:9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 4:10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 4:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 4:12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 4:13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 4:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. 4:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 4:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
And finally a wonderful hope-filled passage of teaching from the apostle Peter about purifying our souls by obeying the truth through the Spirit, to be strong, to keep sober, to hope unto the end and to be holy in all of our conduct.
1 Peter 1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 1:14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 1:15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 1:16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 1:17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 1:20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 1:21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
Let us all be praying fervently that God will revive and cleanse those who are spiritually called at this time to be part of His body, the Bride of Christ. Most of us have been on this spiritual journey for many years; we are somewhat weary, weakened, and burdened down from trials, from age and/or serious health conditions. It is very easy to become discouraged. But look what God promises that He will bring to pass:
Isaiah 66:7 Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. 66:8 Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.
66:9 Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the Lord: shall I cause to bring forth, and shut the womb? saith thy God.
66:10 Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her:
Isaiah 40:27 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? 40:28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. 40:29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. 40:30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
40:31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
The the whole chapter of Isaiah 40 is so encouraging! (And to encourage is to inspire with courage, to make (someone) more determined, hopeful, or confident.)
Let us all pray that God the Father will strengthen, revitalize, and empower the Bride to rid herself of all unclean idols and the unclean things that come with them; and that all God’s people will walk worthy of the very precious and high calling that the Father has so graciously granted to those He has called out to Christ!
1 Corinthians 16:13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
2:11 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying,
2:12 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.
2:13 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.
2:14 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.
Haggai 2:11-14 Commentary
Very little is known of Haggai, the prophet. His name is briefly mentioned in the book of Ezra (Ezra 5:1, 6:14).
The date of his message was in the second year of the reign of King Darius of Persia, or 520 BC.
Haggai was a prophet and God sent him to give His messages to the Jews who had returned from their exile in Babylon. The main theme of the message was to challenge them to see where their hearts and priorities really were; to repent and get on with the work that God had given them to do, which was to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. He encouraged them to do what they had been commissioned to do, and that was to reconstruct the temple and restore true worship; but also exhorting them to do it with a willing whole heart.
The name “Haggai” means festival and was reflective of the fact that this was a time of great joy, the time of REBUILDING the Temple… once the job began anew and they had overcome some barriers; both physical and spiritual.
Haggai assured them that God was with them and that He said He would help them. With this encouragement and after repenting of an “indifferent attitude”, the people could return to their zealousness to fulfilling the purpose that God had for them. Not only for the returned captives but also for the whole nation of Judah; for their time, and also for the ensuing years that would follow. If they fulfilled the completion of the temple, it would enable them to have genuine worship which would be pleasing to God.
As a result of the leaders and the peoples responding to Haggai’s message, they repented and renewed the work of building God’s House. As a result, they were able to complete the new temple in which they could then worship Him and offer their sacrifices to Him, collectively as the people of God.
The People are More Interested in Building their Own Houses Rather than Finishing the Work on the Temple
When some of the Jewish captives returned from the Babylon captivity beginning in 538 B.C., they were determined to restore the worship of the one true God, to make it their highest priority and to make Him the center of their lives. They had an eagerness and purposed to rebuild the destroyed temple in Jerusalem and restore true worship to the God of Israel. (We studied about this in James’ studies on Ezra this week).
Even though filled with enthusiasm and zeal in the beginning, they quickly became discouraged when enemies in the community cause trouble for them. Their resolve to fulfill this rebuilding of the temple was dampened when they were restricted from continuing to build once the altar and foundation were laid. Later when the restrictions were lifted and they were told that they could proceed, the people had lapsed into spiritual lethargy, they had lost their first zeal.
The returned Jewish people were not worshiping the false graven idols like their fathers had done, but they had lost their previous passion for God and for doing His work of rebuilding; which really became a type of idol in itself. Their excuse was that that it just didn’t seem like the right time.
Haggai 1:2 Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built
By now it had been 15 years since work had begun on the temple. The people were well settled in the land surrounding Jerusalem and felt that building their own homes and establishing themselves was more important than completing the Temple; their houses had become their top priority.
Haggai 1:3 Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai the prophet, saying, 1:4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled [elaborate installed wood panels, making them elegant] houses, and this house lie waste?
Haggai tells them to consider their ways and to go get the needed building supplies and begin the work on His House.
Haggai 1:7 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. 1:8 Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord.
At this time Haggai came with his message to them. He admonished them by addressing their problems that they were having, the lack of abundant crops and the hard economic times they were experiencing. He told them they were having these difficulties because they were not seeking God and His work first, but were focused on their personal affairs like building nice quality homes; but at the same time were neglecting the finishing of the Temple which still lay in ruins.
This reflected a moral spiritual condition much like the Laodiceans that Christ prophesied would be the predominate attitude in the church of Laodicea and also would be the spiritual condition of the Spiritual Temple in the end times.
The Temple represented so much more than just a building for gathering to worship God. The Temple was the place where the worship of the Great God of the Universe was to be their central location for meeting with Him, praising, worshiping, and offering sacrifices. The Temple was representative of God’s presence in their midst and He and His laws being the center of the lives of the people and of the nation. If the people were ignoring their job of restoring it to fulfill this purpose, the very purpose for which God had brought them back to their former lands, they were missing out on God’s purpose for them, which was to restore them to be the people of God, and to be a light to the nations surrounding them. Just as the people were neglecting to restore the Temple, they were neglecting to rebuild and restore the spiritual wreckage that their souls had become as well.
Three weeks after Haggai had given this message of warning to the people; Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest, along with the other Jews, obeyed the message that God spoke through Haggai and resumed the work on the Temple. Haggai seeing that the people had responded to his message came with another message of encouragement, telling them that the LORD would be with them if they did the work.
Haggai 1:12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord. 1:13 Then spake Haggai the Lord’s messenger in the Lord’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord. 1:14 And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God,
When the people of God choose to make Him the center of their lives, seeking Him first before everything else, then He promises that He will be right there in the midst of them and help them to do all that He has purposed for them to do.
Then in Haggai 2:11-14, the prophet used a set of suppositions to illustrate a key point about the people’s half-hearted attitude toward God, so he posed a couple of hypothetical questions to them.
Haggai 2:11 Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, 2:12 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. 2:13 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. (Numbers 19:11-13)
The questions were pertaining to the laws concerning what was clean and what was unclean.
As we know from Numbers and Leviticus, the teachings and laws in regard to clean and unclean had several functions:
1. they protected the people from diseases and spreading them to others.
2. the principles of clean and unclean were designed to teach certain spiritual lessons.
3. they acted to help train and condition the people to have an ingrained sense of right and wrong.
Also, it is God that tells us what is clean and unclean and therefore reiterates God’s Word that tells us that it is He, and not men, who determines what is good and what is evil.
The Lord told Haggai to ask the priests if cleanness or holiness might be transferred through touch. The priests answered that “no it could not”. Then Haggai asked if uncleanness could be transmitted through touch. The priests answered “yes it could”.
Haggai applied this principle to spiritual uncleanness. We in effect cannot transmit our faith or holiness to others who at this time refuse to submit to God and His ways. We cannot transfer our goodness by trying to mingle in and appease carnal people, thinking that we can influence them to behave as we do or to believe as we do.
On the other hand it is very easy for their lawlessness or uncleanness to rub off on us and to influence us if we try to be too close of friends or get unequally yoked with unbelievers.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. [Conduct]
Proverbs 13:20 20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
This is very true and we can apply this allegory to this concept of not letting the sins of others have an impact on our spiritual state.
Haggai 2:14 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.
But from the context and the specific problem that the people had of their reluctance to work at the building of the Temple, Haggai appears to be indicating that because these people had an indifferent attitude toward the construction of the Temple and to do the work for which God had brought them there to do, this lack of zeal for the things of God, had polluted everything they touched and nothing was really working out for them.
Back in Haggai 2:5 Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. 2:6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. 2:9 Ye looked for much, and, lo it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. 2:10 Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. 2:11 And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.
Until they cleaned up their current lackadaisical attitude the work that they were attempting was unacceptable in God’s eyes.
Haggai 1:12 Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the Lord their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the Lord their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the Lord.
But under the direction and leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua the people responded to Haggai’s messages, repented and then put the worship of their God and His work before their own interests and projects. Again Haggai encouraged the people by telling them that God was with them.
Haggai 2:4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts:
As they worked at and completed the new Temple, they themselves had become renewed! Out of the increase and bounty that the Lord would prosper them with from that day forward, they would now have the proper sacrifices to bring to the Altar; the physical sacrifices required by the laws of Old Covenant of their day.
And they had learned a profound truth that Jesus expounded on in His sermon on the mount and which we so sorely need to have imbedded into our hearts as Christians; the principle of always seeking God first and then trusting in Him to supply for all our needs.
Matthew 6:30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 6:31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 6:32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Haggai 2:18 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. 2:19 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.
Today we should bring the sacrifices of a clean and upright heart of true worship into the new spiritual Temple of God – our minds – by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, worshiping the LORD with wholehearted zeal of putting Him first before all else!
God in His great abundant grace could then bless His people and the completion of the Temple became a reality!
The Book of Haggai has tremendous spiritual implications for the restoration and building of the Spiritual Temple in the latter days as well.
James Malm and Constance Belanger
Note- Constance submitted the original rough draft of this article in 2016, which I then completed for posting.
2 Corinthians 6:16-18
6:16 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.
6:17 Wherefore come out from among them,
and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.
6:18 And will be a Father unto you,
and ye shall be my sons and daughters,
saith the Lord Almighty.