“Then Haggai answered and said, ‘So is it with this people, and with this nation before me, declares the LORD, and so with every work of their hands. And what they offer there is unclean.’” (Haggai 2:14)
God tells Haggai to go to the priests and to ask them about ritual cleanness and uncleanness. These men agreed that it is impossible to make something holy by just touching it with holy meat from a sacrifice. Holiness can’t be passed on that way. But if an unclean person touches holy items, these become unclean as well!
In a similar way, a glass of contaminated water does not become clean if we add some drops of pure mineral water. But a glass of fresh water does become dirty if we add some drops of ink or dirt!
The Lord uses this example of ritual cleanness to expose what is going on with the people. They have obeyed God’s command to rebuild the temple, which is good. But their hearts are not pure. They only serve God half-heartedly. Just as drops of pure water can’t purify a glass of contaminated water, so the good works of the people can’t make their hearts holy. As long as their hearts are not pure before God, their work does not really please Him. He wants inner change, not just outer obedience.
How do you serve God? Do you love Him wholeheartedly, or do you just focus on good works?