From this day, I will bless you

Advent reflections from Haggai 2:10-19

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. (Haggai 2:19)

Following the promise that the Lord would restore the glory of his house, he then begins a new discourse with the priests concerning the law of cleanness and uncleanness. It comes out in the discussion that common things cannot become sanctified simply by being touched with things that have been sanctified. Holiness does not just spread that way. On the contrary, if a person who has become unclean via contact with a corpse touches something common, then the common thing becomes unclean. Uncleanness and death spread in a way that holiness doesn’t, it would seem.

The Lord says that this is how it is with Israel and their works: what they offer before God is unclean, and their unclean works spread their uncleanness to all aspects of their lives. This is why the nation was not prospering before the temple had been restored: there was no source of life for the land surrounding them, and there was no way to cleanse them of their uncleanness. There was no way to make common things holy, or to cleanse things that had become unclean. As a result, their grain and wine was cursed and diminished, and their trees were barren and fruitless. But with a restored temple in the midst of the people, God assures them that blessing will also flow to their works and cause the earth to bring forth fruit.

Looking backward, we can see the consequences of Adam’s sin in the garden in the beginning. One of the chief effects of Adam’s sin was a cursed earth: rather than rewarding his labours with fruit, the earth would resist Adam at every turn, bringing forth thorns and thistles. It would not bring forth fruit for him except by sweat and great toil. As Paul would later teach the church at Rome, Adam’s sin introduced Death as the ruler of the world, the dominant power over all things. Life was not utterly extinguished from the world, but under the reign of Death, the blessings of life are few and far between, and Death spreads to all men.

Looking forward, we see what the advent of the Second Adam will mean for the world. Christ’s coming will mean a restored temple, as the Word, in whom is life, will be made flesh and tabernacle amongst us. Christ’s coming will also mean that the reign of Death will come to an end, and that the earth will now yield its increase.

As we have seen in this passage from Haggai, the restoration of the temple and the reign of life over all things are not unrelated points. God intends to renew and restore all things by means of renewing and restoring his temple. Thus, the living temple of the body of Christ is a source of life that flows out to all corners of the world, to things that are common and things that were made dead under the reign of Death.

In the coming of Christ, the living God says to a dead world, From this day, I will bless you. Christ comes to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found.