If you lived in the sixties or seventies or maybe you are a fan of pop culture you are probably familiar with the 1960’s TV show Batman and Robin. This insanely ridiculous show was outlandish and entertaining. The video you just watched is a compilation of 50 “holy” proclamations from Batman’s sidekick Robin. In all 120 episodes spanning three seasons the show aired and a movie, Robin made close to 400 “holy” statements!
Maybe 60s & 70s pop-culture is not your thing. How about. Baseball? You may remember early St. Louis Cardinals announcer and later Chicago Cubs baseball announcer Harry Caray. He was one of the most famous of a long line of baseball announcers who used the catch phrase “Holy Cow!” It is believed he began using it early in his career in order to prevent himself from lapsing into vulgarity. As a young boy growing up in the middle 70s, I remember. watching NY Yankees announcer and Yankee Phil Rizzuto scream, “Holy Cow!” after something big happened. I grew up in NY state and we used to get the NYC cable channel WPIX and I would faithfully watch Reggie Jackson and the Yankees play and fondly remember Phil Rizzuto’s commentary.
We are three weeks into our 4-week series through the book of Haggai titled “When God Builds”. So far, we have looked at chapter 1 where I talked about getting on board with what God is doing, and when we do this we will see great things happen for His glory and for His Kingdom. Last week we look at chapter 2:1 - 9. I focused on three areas…
Today we will continue as we will be looking at chapter 2:10 – 19. We will look specifically at two words… holiness and defilement. My aim is to answer the questions
Haggai 2:10 – 19
Vs. 10: The Word of the LORD comes again about 3 months after Haggai’s initial call from God to talk to Zerubbabel and Joshua about getting back to their priority of rebuilding the temple and about 1 ½ months after God calls his people to move ahead into the future.
Vs 11 – 13: The LORD tells Haggai to ask the question to the priests about what and how something becomes holy and what and how something becomes defiled. In this question He asks, “If a piece of holy meat touches bread or stew or wine or oil or any other kind of food does it become holy?” Basically, he asks can holiness be transferred. The answer is No.
The second question asks, “If something is defiled and it touches something does it then become unclean?” Basically, is sin transferable. The answer is yes.
The conclusion, holiness is not communicable, but sin is.
Vs. 14 - 19: God says, “It is like this with Israel.” They have been living in a contaminated state because their priorities have been in the wrong place. For centuries they neglected God and His call to them to be a Holy country for the nations. Instead they fell into the traps of sin, defilement, idolatry and forgetfulness of God. As a result, everything was contaminated or defiled.
“Think carefully” – Once again God tells them to think carefully or more specifically “consider this”. In the state of rebellion to God and before a stone was laid on the foundation there was trouble, frustration and disappointment. Now God is calling them back and they have turned back to God, thus things will be different from now on. Now that their priorities are in order, they will experience blessing.
The word “defile” can also be translated “unclean”. This is taken from the Hebrew word tame’ (tawmay) which means polluted, profaned, sexually, ceremonially, and religiously impure. In the Old Testament something or someone would be declared defiled or unclean if they were impure in any of the three areas of defilement. One could become defiled through contact with someone or something that was unclean. The Israelites were specifically called to follow the ceremonial cleanliness laws set before them, so that they would be a nation unique and set apart from all other nations. However, they failed to live holy lives before God thus they became a defiled nation and one who was led into captivity. We are warned often in the Bible to stay away from that which defiles. Christians are called to live lives set apart from the world. We are called to holy living, but so often we allow the world to taint or defile us. I used to say to my students when I was a youth pastor, “It is easier to drag someone down to the level of sin than it is to pull someone up to the point of righteousness.” Basically, this means that often it is much easier to give in to sin, than it is to stand firm in holiness.”
So, what is holiness? The word “holy” is derived from the Hebrew word qodesh and means “apartness, separateness, sacred, set apart.” To be holy one becomes set apart or separated from anything impure. God alone is holy. No one or no thing is holy in itself. There is a complete and absolute purity about God and His name. He is the essence of holiness. He and his name are separate from everything and are to be considered holy. Let’s look at three passages that declare vividly the holiness of God
The Apostle John is giving us a glance into heaven. He sees God seated on the throne with these strange angelic beings surrounding this throne, twenty-four elders in white garments, and the seven Spirits of God. These creatures ceaselessly proclaim day and night “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty”. Their primary job to proclaim God’s holiness.
This verse says the one thing that we should all know about God; He alone is holy. There is no thing that is as holy as God. He is holiness defined
We are once again, introduced to another set of angelic beings (probably the same ones in Revelation) who proclaim “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is filled with his glory!” We see that God is not only being referred as holy, nor holy, holy but holy, holy, holy. Sounds redundant doesn’t it? Not really… The threefold repetition of the word holy suggests supreme or complete holiness. According to R.C. Sproul, “(The repetition) represents a peculiar literary device found in Hebrew forms of literature, especially in poetry. The repetition is a form of emphasis.” He continues in his book The Holiness of God, “Only once in sacred scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree… The Bible never says that God is love, love, love or mercy, mercy, mercy or wrath, wrath, wrath, or justice, justice, justice. It does say that He is holy, holy, holy.” He continues “We have mixed feelings about the holy. There is a sense in which we are at the same time attracted to it and repulsed by it. Something draws us toward it while at the same time we want to run away from it. We can’t seem to decide which way we want it. Part of us yearns for the holy while part of us despises it. We can’t live with it and we can’t live without it.”
When Isaiah was in the presence of God what was his first response? Was it praise? Was it joy? Was it a warm loving feeling? No, it was fear and acknowledgement of his unworthiness to be in the presence of a holy God. It was true Godly fear.
Now does this mean we should be scared of God or fearful of Him? No, it means we will give proper respect and honor to Him when we understand that He is completely holy. Understanding his holiness (which we can never fully comprehend) changes us forever. We no longer approach God casually as our buddy from college who we haven’t seen in several years; instead we approach him with reverence, respect and awe. In Isaiah’s encounter with God can see God’s grace and mercy present as well.
How do we become holy?
Notice that God didn’t respond to Isaiah’s, “Woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips” with a “Yeah, you’re right now get out of my presence.” No, He responded by sending an angel to place a coal on his lips to purify him and make him worthy to stand in the presence of God. God provided a way for the unclean to stand in the presence of a holy and pure God. This is what God has done for you and me through Jesus Christ. We are unworthy to stand in His presence because God is separate from profane things, but He has cleansed us and made a way for us to stand in His presence in confidence and grace in and through Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 4:14 – 16
In Christ we are able to stand before a pure and holy God without guilt or shame and we can stand in confidence… not because of who we are, but because of what Christ has done for us. Because Jesus is our High Priest, our intercessor we may now boldly approach the throne of grace. Knowing this truth our response should be Holy Amen to that!
This is what the Spirit-filled life is all about… being a person who relies His Spirit in you for your power and ability to live your life for Him. In a nutshell, the way to kill sin in your life is to die to your selfish desires and live in the power and authority of the Holy Spirit in you. We are not strong enough to kill the root of sin in our lives… The root of sin is killed by complete submission and commitment to .
Walvoord, John F. ; Zuck, Roy B. ; Dallas Theological Seminary: The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1983-c1985, S. 1:1045
 Sproul, R.C.: The Holiness of God. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1988 p. 38
 Ibid p.42
 Sproul, R.C.: The Holiness of God. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1988 p. 61
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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