Haggai 1:6-The Lord Disciplined the Remnant of Judah For Failing to Complete the Rebuilding of His Temple
Haggai 1:1 On the first day of the sixth month of King Darius’ second year, the Lord spoke this message through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to the high priest Joshua son of Jehozadak. 2 The Lord who rules over all says this: “These people have said, ‘The time for rebuilding the Lord’s temple has not yet come.’” 3 So the Lord spoke through the prophet Haggai as follows: 4 “Is it right for you to live in richly paneled houses while my temple is in ruins? 5 Here then is what the Lord who rules over all says: ‘Think carefully about what you are doing. 6 You have planted much but have harvested little. You eat but are never filled. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but are not warm. Those who earn wages end up with holes in their money bags.’” (NET)
As we noted in our study of Haggai 1:5, the Lord through the prophet Haggai issues a command in this verse which is directed at Zerubbabel, governor of the remnant of Judah and Joshua, the high priest and ultimately the remnant of Judah.
This command is an inference from the rhetorical question in Haggai 1:4, which is posed by the Lord through Haggai to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah and Joshua the high priest and ultimately the remnant of Judah.
This rhetorical question demands an emphatic negative response.
The Lord asks, “Is it time for each one of you, yes each and every one of you to live in your richly paneled homes while on the other hand, this temple is in a state of disrepair?”
The command in Haggai 1:5 requires that each and every one of the citizens of the remnant of Judah examine carefully their hearts with regards to their ways.
The obvious implication of this statement is that the remnant of Judah was totally and completely wrong to not complete the rebuilding of the Lord’s temple when they themselves lived in richly paneled homes.
In other words, this statement is designed to get them to reconsider their attitude towards the rebuilding of this temple and thus their priorities.
When the Lord commands this remnant to examine carefully their hearts “with regards to your ways,” he is emphasizing the manner in which they lived their lives and specifically their decision making.
The implication is that they must examine their priorities.
In other words, the reason why this remnant never completed the rebuilding of the Lord’s temple was because of wrong priorities meaning that with them doing the Lord’s will did not take precedent over what they wanted in life.
Or, we could say, what they wanted came first in their priorities followed by what the Lord wanted.
So, these verses make clear that the reason why the rebuilding of the Lord’s temple was not completed was not because of the enemies of the remnant of Judah or any nation, but rather it was because they did not have their priorities right.
Now, here in Haggai 1:6 the Lord through the prophet Haggai solemnly presents the consequences of the remnant of Judah not making the completion of the rebuilding of the Lord’s temple the number one priority in their lives.
This verse contains five statements which are directed at the remnant of Judah.
The first states that the remnant of Judah sowed an abundance but harvested a small number of crops.
The second states that they had eaten but were never satiated.
The third states that they drank but their thirst was never satisfied.
These first three assertions reveal that what the remnant of Judah harvested barely met their needs.
The fourth states that they put on clothes but were never warm by doing so.
This assertion reveals that the clothing worn by the remnant of Judah was very thin as a result of having little fiber from which to make their clothing.
The fifth and final statement says they when they earned wages, they earn wages for a money bag pierced with holes.
This assertion reveals that the money this remnant earned was quickly gone or spent to pay their bills.
As we noted in our study of Haggai 1:4-5, Haggai 1:6 is paralleled or corresponds to Haggai 1:9 because of the chiastic structure Haggai 1:4-9.
This also indicates that the emphasis of Haggai 1:4-11 is Haggai 1:8 in which the Lord commands the remnant of Judah to complete the rebuilding the temple by procuring lumber for the project.
So therefore, these five statements in Haggai 1:6 parallel or correspond to the assertions in Haggai 1:9: pānō ʾel-harbēh wĕhinnē limʿāṭ wahăbēʾtem habbayit wĕnāpaḥtî (פָּנֹ֤ה אֶל־הַרְבֵּה֙ וְהִנֵּ֣ה לִמְעָ֔ט וַהֲבֵאתֶ֥ם הַבַּ֖יִת וְנָפַ֣חְתִּי), “‘You expected a large harvest, but instead there was little, and when you brought it home it disappeared right away.’” (NET)
These five statements would make clear to the remnant of Judah that the Lord was disciplining them for failing to make the completion of the rebuilding of His temple the number priority in their lives.
Therefore, by asserting that they sowed an abundance of seed but harvested little, the Lord is making clear to them that this is result of His discipline of them for refusing to complete the rebuilding of His temple.
Correspondingly, when He asserts that they had eaten but were never satiated and that they had drank but their thirst was never satisfied, and they had put on clothes but were never warm by doing so, this was all result of His discipline.
Lastly, when He asserts that when they earned wages, they earned wages for a money bag pierced with holes, this again was the result of His discipline.
This is clearly indicated by the Lord’s statements in Haggai 1:10-11.
Haggai 1:7 “Moreover, the Lord who rules over all says: ‘Pay close attention to these things also. 1:8 Go up to the hill country and bring back timber to build the temple. Then I will be pleased and honored,’ says the Lord. 1:9 ‘You expected a large harvest, but instead there was little, and when you brought it home it disappeared right away. Why?’ asks the Lord who rules over all. ‘Because my temple remains in ruins, thanks to each of you favoring his own house! 1:10 This is why the sky has held back its dew and the earth its produce. 1:11 Moreover, I have called for a drought that will affect the fields, the hill country, the grain, new wine, fresh olive oil, and everything that grows from the ground; it also will harm people, animals, and everything they produce.’” (NET)
This discipline is based upon the warnings found in Leviticus 26:18-20, Deuteronomy 11:17, 14-15 and 28:38-40, which taught Israel that the Lord would discipline them for unrepentant disobedience to His commands and prohibitions.
Leviticus 26:18 “‘If, in spite of all these things, you do not obey me, I will discipline you seven times more on account of your sins. 19 I will break your strong pride and make your sky like iron and your land like bronze. 20 Your strength will be used up in vain, your land will not give its yield, and the trees of the land will not produce their fruit.’” (NET)
Deuteronomy 11:16 Make sure you do not turn away to serve and worship other gods! 11:17 Then the anger of the Lord will erupt against you and he will close up the sky so that it does not rain. The land will not yield its produce, and you will soon be removed from the good land that the Lord is about to give you. (NET)
Deuteronomy 28:38 “You will take much seed to the field but gather little harvest, because locusts will consume it. 28:39 You will plant vineyards and cultivate them, but you will not drink wine or gather in grapes, because worms will eat them. 28:40 You will have olive trees throughout your territory but you will not anoint yourself with olive oil, because the olives will drop off the trees while still unripe.” (NET)