Many of God’s people in exile in Babylon had returned to Palestine to rebuild the temple, but opposition to the building caused it to cease. The people began making excuses for their failure to continue building.
God sent His prophet Haggai urging them to examine themselves and their attitudes. “Consider your ways,” he said. And then these words (1:6); “You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough. You drink, but you are not filled with drink, You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”
The excuses of the people had indicated that their social economic plight had made it difficult, if not impossible, to continue building. Now God, through Haggai, is challenging them to consider whether their plight was really the cause of their neglecting the building program, or was it the consequence? They were expected to understand that God had withheld these things because of their disobedience. Their hardship was a result of God’s coveant curse on their disobedience (Deut. 28:38–40). Their lack of concern for God’s house and for His glory was the reason for their plight.
Like the Jews, we often think only of our own needs; we use all our energy and resources selfishly. As a result, we own much but have little satisfaction. People today have more than ever before in history, yet never have people been more wretchedly unsatisfied. Never have people possessed more; more toys, more cars, more house, more leisure time, more education, more vacations, and yet been more dissatisfied with life. And many Christians are, too!
Why is this? We have everything going for us but are always looking for more. We eat, but do not have enough. We drink, but are not filled. We clothe ourselves, but do not feels warm. We are never satisfied and always long for what is not there. We earn high wages, but it’s as though we put it into our purses with holes. Inflation eats up our earnings.
Is this not all the work of God? He sends emptiness to wak up people to turn to Him. Consider Psalm 106:15. “He gave them their request, but sent leanness to their soul.”
What is the answer? It is found in the words of Jesus: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Elains Monsma is the wife of Marvin Monsma, director of the library at Calvin College where she is also employed as the Information Services librarian. Mrs. Monsma graduated from Northern State College in South Dakota and received her Master’s Degree in Library Science from the University of Michigan. She taught junior and senior high at Christian high schools in Prinsburg, MN, Muskegeon and Hudsonville, MI. She leads Bible studies in several churches. The Monsmas have three daughters.