“Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.” Then the word of the LORD came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider your ways. Haggai 1:2-7, ESV
Things were bad in Israel. It was a bad year for the farmers: much planting and little harvesting. This agricultural failure led to a lack of sufficient food and wine on the table. Their clothes could no longer keep them warm because there was not much insulation on their bones. The farm problem had hit the rest of the economy such that nobody had money in their wallets. It sounds like nature had been unkind.
But when God who reigns over nature speaks through His prophet, He bookends the description of calamity with a command to “Consider your ways.” The people have devoted themselves to their own wealth and comfort (paneled houses) and forgotten their relationship with God (the house of the Lord remains unbuilt). Thus, in verses 9-11, God explains, “You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the LORD of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house. Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.” Their suffering is punishment for sin.
This is not the condemnation of a secular nation. It is a rebuke of the people of God. Thus, as we look to apply this passage, we do not read it nationally but as the church. And in light of current events, this may be that this is the time for the body of Christ to consider her ways. Are we paneled house people or house of God people? Have we invested in the American dream or in the kingdom of God? Are we bemoaning our fate when we should instead be trusting in an all-powerful God?
My prayer today is that we, the people of God, will reflect on the sovereignty of God, admit the possibility of divine judgment, consider our need for repentance, and recommit to the work of the Lord.