Jacob wanted to build an altar to God. An altar represents the presence of God—it was how one would have an encounter with God. He recognized the need to be clean before a holy God. He commanded everyone to toss out all of the other gods. They were to rid themselves of anything and everything that was not God the one true God. Then Jacob commanded that they take “a good bath and put on clean clothes.” They were purifying themselves. This was an outward display to signify a change of heart—a ceremonial cleansing.
Many scholars see this bathing as a likeness to baptism as this washing was done to signify their choice to serve the one true God. Baptism is an immersion into water or sprinkling of water which signifies purification. It is the ceremony people participate in when they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. In doing this, people choose to give their lives to the one true God. By doing so, you receive the Holy Spirit and therefore have the presence of God within you.
You may have already been baptized, but you might not have tossed out all of the alien gods in your life. Something might be pulling you away from the presence of God. Evaluate where you are today and see if anything is taking the place of God in your life. He should be first always. Today is a good day for a cleaning. Let us put on clean clothes and walk forward in His presence.
“Jacob told his family and all those who lived with him, ‘Throw out all the alien gods which you have, take a good bath and put on clean clothes, we’re going to Bethel. I’m going to build an altar there to the God who answered me when I was in trouble and has stuck with me everywhere I’ve gone since.’”
-Genesis 35:2-3 [MSG]
Most people can remember a time they put something considered valuable in a pocket that happened to have a hole in it that allowed the item to escape. I have seen so much money fall to the ground as a result of pockets filled with holes.
Through Haggai, the Lord was delivering a message. At this time the people had homes but the Lord’s house remained a ruin. Today’s verse spoke of how the people “planted much but harvest little.” It speaks about eating and drinking but those actions not resulting in fulfillment. He compares the wages for their laboring as money tossed in “pockets filled with holes.” All of these things mentioned give us a picture of someone who is doing, but doing without God getting first place.
We can plant. We can eat. We can drink. We can have closets full of clothing. We can have a large bank account. But without God, these things aren’t satisfying. There is a void. It is as if putting something of value into pockets with holes. It will all slip out. All is lost. Only through Christ are we able to find true joy and satisfaction. Only through Christ can we truly live. Where are you placing your relationship with God today?
“You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!” – Haggai 1:6 [NLT]