[Column] Sanctify Your Inner Sanctuary

Sanctify Your Inner Sanctuary

Written By Rev.Dr. Joshua Hong

Senior Pastor of Full Gospel Church of Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.

Prophet Haggai urges the Israelites to restore the temple of God. What he means by the temple here is not a visible entity but a spiritual entity (Haggai 2:10-19). This is analogous to the message of St. Paul, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19).” Because God the Holy Spirit abides in us, we are the keepers of His temple. Haggai implicitly poses a question, “Do the Israelites become automatically sanctified if they build the temple?” The answer is no.

Using an example of physical objects, Haggai questions priests and gives a moral lesson about holiness (Haggai 2:11-14). He asks if sanctified meat can make bread, soup, wine, oil, etc. holy upon its contact with them. The priests make an authoritative interpretation saying, “No.” Inversely, he asks if a man who comes in contact with a dead body can defile the list of the afore-mentioned items. They say, “Yes.” This illustrates while what is holy is not immediately transferred, what is corrupt is contagious. Can you cleanse anyone you touch if you have taken a bath? No. On the contrary, can you get dirty a person if a man covered with feces touches you? Yes. Can a faithful wife send her husband to Heaven? No. In reality, good is hard to learn and evil is easy to carry out without much effort just as vegetables are hard to grow and weeds grow easily without care.

Haggai’s message bears a significant meaning. It is that the building of a magnificent and beautiful temple does not immediately result in the sanctity of all its activity and of the Israelites. Also entrance into the temple is not synonymous with acceptance by God. Building the temple under these illusions would be a grievous mistake. By the same token, it is not the material things that sanctify a person, but it is a person that sanctifies material things. While studying in the U.K., I visited many great churches and cathedrals. The depth of history and artistic heritage were truly inspiring. Sadly, these buildings no longer attract many parishioners and are deteriorating. In contrast to the magnificent exterior of these historical monuments was tepid spirituality. What is even more important than a visible temple is the temple within our heart.

If we are not holy, neither the service we offer unto God nor the offering we present is holy. Frequent attendance at church services or rendering service in God’s temple does not automatically sanctify us. Christian habits do not guarantee our sanctification and transformation either. We must be ready to invite Holy God into our heart. We must rend our heart, not our garment and return to Jehovah (Joel 2:13). We must remember the punishment we have been inflicted upon while living wickedly (Haggai 2:15,18). We must first repent and seek His kingdom and righteousness. We must desire the presence and holiness of God. Then we will become the rightful recipient of the prophetic message of Haggai: “In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts (2:23).” Keep your temple holy. The greater glory of God will be with you.

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