"You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes."Haggai 1:6(NASB)
The impelling message of Haggai to his generation of apathetic Jews was get up, get busy, and rebuild the ruined Temple of the Lord which had been lying desolate since the Babylonian invasion and remained neglected, and in utter disrepair.
His prophetic writings were a strong rebuke to Israel for neglecting their duty toward God and leaving His house in ruins. They themselves lived in their own beautifully constructed homes, while God's house was derelict: "Why do you dwell in your panelled houses while this House lies desolate?" - was Haggai's blistering question to these lackadaisical people.
Many decades earlier, the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah had been fulfilled when Judah's 70-year long captivity in Babylon had been completed. The decrees of Cyrus the great, and later Artaxerxes, gave the Jews permission to return to their homeland and rebuild the city wall of Jerusalem and the ruined sanctuary of the Lord.
Many returned under the leadership of people like Ezra. Others returned to rebuild the city walls and restore the city gates with Nehemiah, who returned joyfully when his prayer had been answered. The King granted permission for him to return home, bringing with him the Temple treasures which were to be placed in the rebuilt House of God.
The industrious people built their own lovely homes but neglected the rebuilding of the House of the Lord, and so were unable to fulfil the requirements of the Law and essential elements of their feasts and festivals - all of which necessitated a functioning Temple.
They had dug the ground, sown crops in their fields, planted vineyards, made clothes, and worked hard to supply their own need - but because they neglected their duty towards the Lord, they forfeited their blessings. They were challenged by Haggai, who said, "You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes."
God had been faithful to His people by bringing them back to their land at the time He promised, with sufficient wealth to re-establish themselves there and restore their relationship with God. However, their failure to rebuild the House of the Lord resulted in scarcity and want. Consequently, they suffered from famine, drought, poverty, and thirst.
Israel forgot the conditions of their covenant with the Lord. They ignored God's guarantee to bless them if they walked in His statutes and kept His commandments. They forgot His promise to protect them from their enemies, send rains in its season, provide plenteous crops, cover the trees with fruit, and grant peace in the land - IF they kept His sabbaths - IF they reverenced His Sanctuary. Because of their neglect they reaped scarcity, drought, and hunger. They were found wanting. Many of God's promises to us are unconditional, but we should remember that there are certain promises that have a condition - IF!
What a lesson for all God's people to seek first the things of God and His righteousness - not for what we get from Him, but for what we can give to Him Who loved us so much that He gave His life and we might live.
By faith, we have been given all we need for life and godliness and yet do we honestly put God first and give Him the first-fruit of our heart? Do we offer Him our sacrifice of praise, live a life that honours His name in thought, word, deed, and motive? Do we bring honour to His name by living as he has directed us in His Word?
Let us consider our ways and seek to do only those things that are righteous in His sight, for He has done so much for US.
Heavenly Father, how quick I am to recognise the faults and failings of Your people, Israel, and yet I am guilty in neglecting my own duty toward You, which should be my delight and my joy, for by Your grace I have been forgiven of my sin, received life eternal, and have all I need for life and godliness. Forgive me for the times I have placed my wants and wishes before honouring Your holy name and giving You the glory and respect You alone deserve. Thank You for the many blessings I have received at Your hand. Help me never to become complacent about my great salvation in Christ. This I ask in His holy name, AMEN.