Monday, October 26, 2015

Pray that you may not enter into temptations


And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch." And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, "Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand."

Parallel Passages Matthew 26:36-46; Luke 22:40-46.

What does it feel like to have unreliable companions? What if all your friends left you at the hour of greatest need? What if it was your own mother who has left you, and your dad also forsook you? 

All Christ's disciples were not only unreliable at this time but they left Him and those who did not flee denied Him! But even worse, as we see from this passage, His heavenly Father had turned His face away from Him. Jesus was left alone by His heavenly Father forsook Him during this darkest moment of the human history! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

We are Baptists

We believe that the Baptists are the original Christians. We did not commence our existence at the reformation, we were reformers before Luther and Calvin were born; we never came from the Church of Rome, for we were never in it, but we have an unbroken line up to the apostles themselves. We have always existed from the days of Christ, and our principles, sometimes veiled and forgotten, like a river which may travel under ground for a little season, have always had honest and holy adherents. Persecuted alike by Romanists and Protestants of almost every sect, yet there has never existed a Government holding Baptist principles which persecuted others; nor, I believe, any body of Baptists ever held it to be right to put the consciences of others under the control of man. We have ever been ready to suffer, as our martyrologies will prove, but we are not ready to accept any help from the State, to prostitute the purity of the Bride of Christ to any alliance with Government, and we will never make the Church, although the Queen, the despot over the consciences of men.
—Charles H. Spurgeon

Friday, October 16, 2015

Do not steal!

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. (Eph. 4:28)


Work Hard


Introduction
Stealing is obtaining/ acquiring something that you have not worked for or given. Stealing is obtaining something by unjust means from others either with or without their knowledge and making use of the property as if it is yours. Failure to share with others is equal to stealing because you behave as if you live in this world by yourself.

1. Do not steal
1.1. Do not steal from God
a) His glory
b) His honour
c) His people's lives
d) His resources
e) His time

1.2. Do not steal from man
a) Do not steal other people’s property
b) Do not steal other people’s dignity/freedom
c) Do not steal other people’s time
d) Do not steal taxes from the government
f) Do not steal other people’s affection
g) Do not steal other people's wife's or daughters/husbands or sons


2. Labour honestly
a) Work in by using your own strength
b) Work hard by using your own intellect
c) Work hard by using your own time
d) Work hard by your own integrity (name)


3. Work hard for your sake and others
a) Enjoy what you have earned
b) Share what you have earned
c) Be on the lookout for the needs of people


Conclusion
Working hard is a life of a disciplined obedience to God in order to bring Him glory and do good to His people. It is deliberately geared towards doing all, in word and in deed for the glory of God. In obeying the 8th commandment, the fourth commandment is well obeyed. Both encourage labour, and honour to the Lord and His people.

If you are going to embrace a Christian work ethic, then you would not discriminate work, you would do whatever, your hands finds to do, with honesty and integrity of heart. You would give yourself fully to what you do as one employed by God – for indeed we all are. He is our Master and so we are to always remember that He is watching what we are doing with our time, our energies and our resources. We will all give an account of what we did with what God gave us on the Last Day. Therefore, employ an eternal perspective in the way you spend the money in your pocket, with the strength in your body as well as the next second. Remember also that your life is but a breath. Death and eternity is only a breath away.

Examine your attitudes towards labour, let not the tiredness or the meagre pay discourage, rather let the glory of God motivate. Remember that the Lord sent you where you are, like Joseph was sent by the Lord, to be of help to the wicked Egyptians yet it was God’s way of preserving the elect seed and this way bring salvation for all through Christ.

Never Say, "Never'!


Jesus Foretells Peter's Denial And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. (Mark 14:26-31 ESV)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Speaking the Truth in Love

       And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in loveEph 4:11-16.

2)   How do we speak the truth in love?


Paul here is dealing with the way in which we are to speak to one another as believers in the church, and correct errors that may appear among us. This is the DNA of fellowship in the church of Christ. It is on this foundation that people are nurtured from spiritual childhood, to spiritual maturity leading to the unity in the church.
The opposite of speaking the truth in love applies mainly to false teachers, to those whom Paul describes as, ‘having a form of godliness but denying its power’ Jude describes as, ‘having crept in unawares’, yet among ourselves, in the church of Christ, we are to speak the truth in love. 

It means that we must never be hard or too rigid and legalistic or self-righteous. We must never behave in such a manner to give the impression that our primary concern is to prove that we are right and everyone is wrong. We must never do so merely to win an argument or a dispute. Many of us have to plead guilty on this.
Party spirit and divisiveness is always wrong. Labels like, 'we are reformed' or 'we are Pentecostals' or 'we are Anglicans' or 'we are Catholics' as opposed to everyone else has a potential for danger. Instead, why not  employ biblical terms? The basis of a meaningful fellowship is not tag or a label, it is the truth of God. Unless any group is interested in the truth, there is no way, tangible spiritual unity can be forged. 
Do not approach any passage in a merely intellectual manner. Do not be governed by prejudice in your speaking – beginning by denouncing others. Speaking in love is speaking clearly in a manner that will lift up the truth higher than your own voice (the manner), and in a manner that portrays love, not prejudice. 
It is speaking in humility and to be careful that we do not wrest the Scriptures or in any way misinterpret or misapply them. Rather we are to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). Seek to persuade from the position that they may be ignorant. Do not imagine that they are obstinate in their error. Sympathize with the person in error and win him over to the truth… the Lord had compassion on the crowd and saw them like sheep without a shepherd. Remember that though you speak with the tongues of angels but lack love, you become a sounding gong or cymbal.
However, we must never compromise truth – hold the truth always in love. But love itself is caring. Look at how Paul spoke to the Galatians in his letter. Consider how he writes in chapter 4 and particularly in v. 19.
Basically it is by dealing with each individual on the basis of the truths of Scripture, motivated by love. This is the what the Apostle Paul is talking about in 1 Thessalonians:
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 1 Thess. 5:14-15.
Each person’s need is addressed paying attention to their state and composition. There are those who need admonition, there are those who need encouragement, there are those who need help, but we need to be patient with them all. Why are we to do this, because, the idle have to be forced into immediate action, the fainthearted have already been working hard but say, out of meager result, they are discouraged, they need encouragement; the weak are needy already and their means are insufficient and so have to be helped. 

We are to avoid blanket categories. Once you hear that this from this background, without even giving the person a fair hearing, you imagine that they are like the way you know the group - this is a common fallacy that we must avoid, if we will be effective agents of speaking the truth in love. In stead, deal with each person individually, bearing in mind that this is the way the Spirit of God works in grace. He administers grace each person at a time! 
In dealing with them all differently, you are showing the measure of Christ’s love in you. Consider how Christ dealt with different people:

3)   What is the example?

From the Lord:

Nicodemus – John 3
v  See His forthrightness in truth (v. 3)
The Lord did not mince words in diagnosing and stating Nicodemus' problem of being unregenerate - "... You must be born again." Speaking the truth in love, is first and foremost, speaking the truth. The content or the matter and the reason for opening up the mouth is in order to communicate the truth. This must never be lost even when we are trying to work on the mode and the manner of transmission of this truth. The method must not take away from it. The Lord is also so clear that the truth cannot be mistaken.

v  See Christ’s patience with Nicodemus (vv. 5-8).
The truth is repeated, illustrated and emphasized. Do not be quick to give up on a person. Rather speak the truth and insist on it by reiterating the truth. The Lord also added more flesh or content to the initial statement of v.2. He did admonish him for his ignorance at this point.

v  See Christ’s love (vv. 11--21)
In the preceding verses, there is a very long explanation that is distinctively marked by the love of God for the world that made send His only Son, as well as the love of the Son in coming so that the world may be saved through Him. In stating the love of God, He also clearly describes the wrath and judgment of God. It is love that also unmasks the dangers and the consequences of disobedience. Many people regard this as threatening - not it is not, it is simply stating the obvious repercussion to motivate obedience and hence the good being promised. It would be unloving to not tell the whole truth. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Speaking the Truth in Love


                              Ephesians. 4:15
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Eph 4:11-16.

The very positive block of building the church of Christ, brethren, is speaking the truth in love. It is compared here with the negative of being children tossed to and from by every wind of doctrine and human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes in verse 14. If the church is going to grow and the members grow from infancy to maturity then a lot of speaking the truth in love has to take place. What we will do is seek to understand this concept in its context here, then move on to show how it is done and the I will give you an example of Christ’s ministry and then a bit of the apostolic ministry.

1)   What is the context?

The word translated speaking is more accurately to be translated to ‘professing’ or ‘truthing’ and the idea is that we are ‘walking in truth’, or  ‘having or holding truth in love’ and so then it includes speaking, discussing, teaching and living it… it is extremely dangerous to lift up a phrase from the Bible and turn it into a slogan.

a)      We must know exactly what the truth is.
We must familiarize ourselves with the Word of God. We must study it diligently and come to a thorough understanding of the Bible. We must not go up the pulpit with suggestions or speculations. The fact that you attended the best seminary in the world (and thank God you did) does not mean that you know everything. You have to daily hear, read, study, memorize, meditate and apply the Scriptures to yourself. How can you teach others when you have not yourself been instructed in sound teaching? You who teach others do you know? How much time do spend daily on the Bible? Are you too busy to study the Bible? I have a habit that I will not leave the bed before looking at four chapters of Bible and pray.

b)      Are you sure that you are holding firmly to it?
You are not reformed simply because you claimed to be or by saying you are. How are you reformed? We are to begin with what Paul told the Roman Church - But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, Rom. 6:17.
Consider also what Paul told Timothy, Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 2Tim. 1:13.

Paul had taught Timothy a pattern of the sound words, and he does not write to him to simply tell him to imitate his spirit, the spirit which he had seen in him, but he says to him to follow the pattern of sound words. The things Timothy had received from Paul, was the same words he was to entrust to other faithful men who would also entrust it to others (2 Tim 2:2). Our message is precise truth, consisting of truths about God and His sovereignty in creation, providence and redemption, the Father and the source of all things, the Lord Jesus Christ, His Person and His work, about the Holy Spirit and His work, it is also about man and sin, the only way of salvation, the church, and about the life to come as well as all necessary truth about life.

c)       Are you watching over your soul?
False teachers in verse 14 are deceitful and cunning. Many of them are such effective instruments of the devil that they have effectively deceived themselves to believe that they are angels of light when they are sons of the devil and peddlers of falsehood. They are getting from bad to worse but you must not be like them. Instead you are to watch over your soul and also to rebuke them.
Listen to this:
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. Act 20:28.
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1Ti 4:16.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Gal 6:1.

Monday, October 12, 2015

What builds the House of God?

Haggai 
1.      The word of God – instructing, rebuking and encouraging people towards obedience (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
This is the most trustworthy prophetic word to which we will do well to pay attention. Prophecy is the Word come from God and a prophet is the one sent of God to the people with a message. God Himself qualifies anyone to take this title of a prophet, by giving him the message. Many today are too quick to wear this title unadvisedly when they fail the test of a prophet even on a secondary level (of faithful exposition of Scripture).
However, 27 times Haggai

pronounces, “Thus says the Lord…” or something close to that, a proof that this is not his own message – it is the message of God that he is delivering. We need the help of God's spokesmen or prophets and ministers to faithfully expound to us the Word of God. This is how we may understand His mind and meaning in His rod as well as in His word. Where there is faithfulness and consistency in handling God’s Word, people discover not only where they may have offended God, but also where God shows Himself offended at us.
The Israelites looked upon the prophet to be the Lord's messenger, and the word he delivered to be the Lord's message to them. So they received it not as the word of man, but as the word of Almighty God. They obeyed his words, as the Lord their God had sent him (1:12). In attending to God's ministers we must have an eye to him that sent them, and receive them for his sake, while they act according to their commission.
Then the word of God has its success when God by his grace stirs up our spirits to comply with it; and without that grace we should remain stupid and utterly averse to everything that is good. It is in the day of a divine power that we are made willing.
The church of Christ is founded upon the one foundation of the apostles and the prophets (Ephesians 2:20). This means that since the church’s inception 2000 years ago, it must depend upon the word of God spoken by His own mouthpieces. There is no hope for any church that relies on anything else other than the written word, for if they do not speak according to the testimony of God, it is simply that they lack the light of dawn.
2.      God appointed leadership
Here we see the priest – Joshua, prophet – Haggai and the governor. These are the men that God employed for the restoration of His covenant people. We know that God always works with the sovereignly appointed means. There is no doubt that when God has work to be done, He will either find men or make men fit to do it, and stir them up to it. He works with a few as well with many! Those that work for God have God with them. But if God be for us, who can be against us? If he be with us, what difficulty can stand before us? (Matthew Henry).
Our responsibility in the appointment of men to serve in His church is to be sure that they meet the standards of God. The Lord has clearly told us that a man to be appointed as either a pastor or a deacon, he must possess such qualities that are spelt out in His Word, touching on his personal conduct, his domestic life and his ministry life (the order is important). Before the deacons were appointed in Acts 6, the apostles gave their qualifications.
1 Timothy 3:1-12 contain the qualifications of men to be called to be deacons. Titus 1:5-9 reiterates the same. May give an example of the qualifications of a pastor:
Qualifications - An Elder should not be a recent convert but a man well thought of by outsiders who must possess the following qualifications:
1)      Personal.  A man who is above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.
2)      Domestic.  A good manager of his own household, with all dignity keeping his children submissive.
3)      Pastoral.  He must hold firm to the trustworthy word of God and be able to instruct in sound doctrine and also rebuke those who contradict it.
Unless a man has these biblical qualifications, no matter how articulate he is, or how many seminary degrees he has got, he must never be appointed to the office of a pastor for any church, if it is the church of Christ.

3.      Unity of purpose
Unanimity is absolutely necessary between the community and the leadership. This is what we see in 1:12, 14 and 2:2. The people, in one accord came along with their leaders and listened to the Word of God and they united obeyed. It is where there is unity where the Lord commands a blessing. This is what the Lord prayed for – that we may be one just as He is one with the Father so that the world may see and glorify God. This is the paradigm demonstrated by the early church – they were together in one place (Acts 2:1); all who believed were together and had all things in common (2:45); Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul… they had everything in common (4:32).
Where there is unity of purpose, as driven by the Spirit of God, great things will be accomplished for God. remember the 133rd Psalm, one of the Psalms of Ascents, Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the LORD has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. Psa 133:1-3. The Lord commands a blessing where there is unity and harmony. In fact this unity is an indication of Christian maturity – see Ephesians 4:1-16.
The Lord desires that with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace… And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, Eph. 4:3, 11-13.


ü  Could it be brothers, that we pull in different directions instead of harnessing all our efforts, abilities and skills for God?
ü  Could it be that we are too concerned for our own individual comforts so that the house of the Lord lay in ruins?
ü  Could it be that your thinking is too individualistic so that you do not see yourself as a part of the whole church – you are an eye and yet what to talk?
ü   Consider your ways and see where you have acted improperly and so destroying the unity of the church.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Consumed by the Zeal for the House of the LORD (1)


 Passage: Haggai 1-2         

This is the fifth book in ‘A Sermon A Book Series’. My aim is to make the church very familiar with the whole counsel of God so that you be strengthened in faith, be stirred in your love for God, be educated in the whole counsel of God in His Word so that you and others will be made wise for salvation. I hope this will kindle a hot desire in you to read the whole counsel of God, including the OT and even the least known books.
Haggai is not among the least known – it is relatively known and is specifically recalled when mobilizing resources for putting up church buildings! Is this the context or even purpose of the book? We shall find out now. Thankfully we do not believe the church building is an equivalent of a temple, do we?
When the first wave of Jewish exiles returned from Babylon to Jerusalem in 538 BC, they began to rebuild the temple but sooner than later they abandoned this efforts and the temple lay in ruins. The Lord raised up a number of people to spearhead a revival and completion of this work. There was Zerubbabel, the governor, Joshua the High Priest and Haggai the prophet who inspired them to complete the building in 516 BC. Haggai was raised by God at this time and he gave a series of four serious prophetic messages to those who had returned from Babylonian exile, in order to stir their zeal for the things of God.



1.       Apathy and Lack of Zeal for the House of God Rebuked (1:1-11)
The rebuke: In the first message, Haggai specifically rebuked the people for their selfishness and lack of concern for the house of God. They were saying, “… the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD” (1:2) yet living in ‘panelled or ceiled houses’. Here we see how people generally put their needs before the Kingdom of God and its righteousness (Matt. 6:33). This is not something that the Lord would overlook or bless. At the heart of this attitude is materialism which is idolatry.  While they showcased sheer selfishness and apathy the house of God remained in ruins (1:4). For this they were rebuked, for indeed they had put the cart before the horse, by being more concerned for the transient, at the expense of the eternal. How has the material prosperity blurred your eternal perspective?
God’s displeasure: For this reason Haggai spelt out God’s displeasure and curses. He warned that despite their best efforts, their wealth would never suffice, because the Lord would not bless them, rather He was sending the covenant curses for breaching its terms. God was not pleased with this neglect of His temple (which was the mark of His presence in their midst) and would punish them if they did not change their ways. Do you realize that you have invited God’s displeasure by being too engrossed with the things of this world?
The challenge to resume the work: He called them to consider their ways, repent and renew their covenant with the God of their fathers by resuming the construction works. He assured them that God would achieve His purposes for His people and for all other nations. The rebuilding of the temple symbolized the restored presence and fellowship of God with His covenant people. What would be better blessing than the very presence of God, and a renewed relationship?
The favourable response: They all obeyed the voice of the Lord (v.13-14)
a)      The stirring of the Lord (v.14) – The Lord knew too well the despair that prevailed among the people and gave the promise of His presence and so stirred their spirits to obedience.
b)      The vitality of their efforts (v.14) – They did their work with all possible strength. They came and worked on the house of the Lord of hosts their God. Every one, according as his capacity, ability, skill and strength was willing and eager to spend and be spent for the cause of the Kingdom of God. They did this with an eye to God as the Lord of hosts, and as their God, the God of Israel. In so doing they acknowledged the sovereignty of God and His covenant-relationship with his people by his grace.
c)       The speed of the execution of the duty (v.15) – Haggai preached to them the first sermon on the first day of the sixth month, and by the twenty-fourth of the same month, about three weeks after, they were all busy working in the house of the Lord their God. They were now convinced and they were resolved to delay no longer, but to strike while the iron was hot, and to set about the work while they were under the conviction. Surely, if you lived in such a manner that you have lost time, then you need labour in order to redeem time.
Clearly there was a united recognition that the delay and all the procrastination had been wrong and sinful. Their response shows that this was a genuine repentance. True repentance is more than words – it has to be followed by obedience.

2.       Consoling those in despair (2:1-9)
The Lord gave second message to Haggai with an aim of encouraging and so enlarging their hearts in their duty of obedience. This was meant for both the leaders and all the remnant of the people. They were called to
(1) remember the splendour and beauty (glory) of the former house;
(2) to be strong in the Lord as they work – just as Joshua had been instructed;
(3) to work and
 (4) to remember the presence of the spirit of Lord in their midst. The Lord said that He would shake the heavens and the earth and sea and dry land, and all the nations (v.7).
The Lord in this message reiterates His sovereignty over all His creation to do with it as He pleases in order to accomplish His purposes – “… gold is mine and silver is mine!” It all belongs to the Lord. Do you realize that what you call yours actually belong to the Lord? In this statement alone, we must realize that when you give towards the work of the Lord, you are not doing God any favour, rather, you are only giving back to God what belongs to Him. However, the statement here means that God was going to intervene and had already intervened in restoring the temple in order that it would be filled with glory.
When they heard the word they feared and trembled just as the Israelites did in Mt. Sinai. But, lest they should drown under the weight of that fear, God stirred them up, and made them cheerful and bold by declaring the end of the matter at hand from the beginning – The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former… in this place I will give peace (v.9). They obeyed as the Lord enabled them for obedience is what the Lord produces in us by His Spirit.
The last two messages were delivered on the same day:

3.       Completion of the temple (2:10-19)
The third message encouraged the people with a prospect of divine blessing upon obedience. There is no doubt that the Lord rewards obedience – the community was promised such a bounty harvest compared to the previous years that will be obvious that the Lord has visited His people with blessings. Haggai’s third message ties tightly with Zechariah’s message which implied that people were still struggling with achieving a non-equivocal repentance. This demanded the priests to come and explain the law of God with clarity. In this, the authority of the priests is being highlighted and recognised. They had a responsibility to explain as well as answer any questions people may have regarding the Law of God. Haggai here posed questions whose answers were too obvious to everyone in order to establish a public common ground, that ritual purity cannot be indefinitely transferred by physical means although ritual defilement can!
The first question to establish that ritual purity is not transferable (2:11-12)
Israel had originally been set apart as holy (Ex. 19:6), but that did not mean that all they did or did not do was, on that basis, sacred and so acceptable and agreeable to God. Holy status requires obedience. Even though God’s covenant relationship with them had been renewed when they returned to the land, that did not automatically convey immediate approval of all that they had done before or at the time. Even the mere presence of the temple in Jerusalem must not be interpreted to imply that divine favour rested on every one of their failures and disobedience! Too many people want to use things of God as magical charms even when they are acting in rebellion – preachers constantly shout “Praise the Lord!” even when they are just doing their own selfish bidding or preaching heresy. Many Christians constantly flash the card, ‘In the name of Jesus…’ even when they are feeding their selfish and covetous appetites. They need to know that shouting in the name of Jesus is not a magical abracadabra.
The Second question to show that sin is contagious (2:13-14)
There is no doubt that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Sin is so contagious and pervasive and so it must be amputated and killed as soon as it lifts it’s head. To know the fullness of God’s blessing they must ensure that there is no sinful corruption spreading his contagion throughout all their efforts, as good as they may be. If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law of God, even his prayers are detestable (Prov. 28:9; Isa. 1:11-14).
It is instructive that the priests answered correctly to both questions. This is a mark of approval of their service in the temple because the temple would not be complete without the priestly service.
4.       Renewal of the promise of salvation by the Messiah (2:20-22)
In the last message on that day when the foundation of the temple was re-laid (v.18), Haggai was told something about Zerubbabel, the governor of the restored community. He was of the lineage of David and so was a precursor of the Messiah. He appears in the genealogies of Christ in Matthew (1:12) and Luke (3:27).
Yes, indeed, the Lord made him ‘a signet ring’. A signet ring would have identifying device or name on it, and was used to impress a clay tablet or a wax or clay seal affixed on a document. It attested ownership and was closely protected, usually worn on a person. This is remarkable blessing, bearing in mind that the Lord had told King Jehoiakim that even if he were a signet ring on His right hand, He would still pull him off (Jer.22:24). Now in reversal of that divine rejection, the Lord reveals to Zerubbabel that he is reinstated into God’s favour and that he and the line of promise he represented would be looked after with divine care. Just as a signet ring symbolised the authority of the owner, so Zerubbabel was authorised to act in the Lord’s name. In this way God would use him to authenticate his blessing to the people, as shown in the completion of the temple project (Zech. 4:9)
God chose him out of His mere good pleasure and mercy. But while being chosen by God is an immense privilege, it also came with an awful responsibility. For example, The Lord chose the Israelites to be His treasured possession (Deut. 14:2. They were chosen for the purpose of being the possession of God. God chose David to rule His people Israel (1 Kings 8:16). The purpose of choosing David was for him to rule God’s people. God chooses with a purpose.

Here, we see God’s faithfulness in choice of David and his lineage to rule His people, being perpetuated in Zerubbabel. His rule pointed the Israelites to the full realisation of the promise, ‘My servant David will be king over them’ (Ezek. 37:24) pointing to Jesus Christ. He supremely is the chosen servant (Matt. 12:18; 1 Pet. 2:4) On Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval. In fact this is the ultimate and the most magnificent blessing that the Lord was to give His covenant people – to send His anointed King to rule over them and provide for all their needs, even eternal needs. He was to do this through the remnant from whom He would raise the Saviour, even Christ. It is the Messiah who is the sole basis and foundation of our hope.