When Israel obeyed the Lord and rebuilt the Temple then certain blessing would flow as a direct consequence.
The Lord would take pleasure in it: the Lord always takes pleasure in the willing obedience of His people. On the other hand our disobedience and sin always causes deep sadness and pain to the heart of God and it must have deeply grieved the Lord that His people had been so terribly disobedient for sixteen years. Also it must be remembered that to neglect the house of God is in effect to neglect God Himself. It is to treat the Lord with disdain and to relegate Him to a very low priority in life. So to rebuild the house of God was the beginning of a process to make the Lord the priority and focus of their lives, both as individuals and as a nation. As Christians we need to remember that the Lord does not want to simply be present in our lives, or indeed prominent. He must be pre—eminent and so we must make the Lord our top priority and bring Him pleasure by obeying Him and helping to build up His house, which is the local church of Christian believers through prayer, commitment and love for one another.
The Lord would be honoured: Through the work of the people of Judah the Lord would be honoured because He would be the centre of worship for the people in the new Temple. Also the nations around Israel would note that Israel highly considered their God by making it their priority to rebuild His Temple. God is always honoured and glorified when He is truly obeyed and worshipped.
The Cause of their troubles would be removed: The poor returns at harvest time and the failure of their expectations were due to the Lord’s house remaining a ruin, while in contrast the people concentrated upon beautifying their own properties, Indeed the Lord says, “What you brought home, I blew away” (v.9). To blow away may mean that he got rid of it like chaff being blown in the wind or it may be something much more ‘ironical and imply that the Lord sniffed at it as if it were a bad smell and utterly disparaged all that the people were doing. However, with the rebuilding of the Temple His disparagement would disappear and ultimately blessings would start to flow for the nation of Judah. They could confidently expect that their land would once again become a land flowing with milk and honey.
There would be changes: In the past there had been the withholding of blessings. The heavens had yielded no dew, the earth had not yielded its crops and the rains had failed to materialise. In what was essentially an agrarian society, with much of it self-sufficient production this had all been a great tragedy. Everything seemed to be affected and this included the fields where crops and vegetables were grown, the mountains where animals might have grazed and found pastures.
Specifically the grain crop was affected and so one of the staple aspects of diet was greatly reduced and Judah must have been short of flour and therefore was unable to make bread. The new wine was affected and so only stocks of old wine would be available and they would not only be dwindling but also become less and less pleasant to taste. In those days wine was not the sort to mature with age.
The olive oil was badly affected and so cooking had to be done with old oil and be reused time and again. Also wine and oil might have been used for medicinal purposes and so the medical services in Israel were affected. Indeed everything that grew out of the ground was affected, with produce of every sort being badly reduced. It also affected the welfare of the people who were no doubt suffering from the effects of poor diet, malnutrition and exposure to the cold. The cattle were also affected and so meat and milk would be in short supply as fodder became less and less available for the animals. Indeed everything that this farming community did was a disaster and ended in failure. Yet all these problems were entirely due to the people neglecting the house of the Lord and therefore in effect neglecting the Lord. To start rebuilding the Temple would bring about a change of fortunes for them.
In short Haggai’s first message to the people of Israel was that their problems stemmed from the fact thatthey had their priorities all wrong. They had worked hard but at the wrong things. They had laboured to make themselves rich and in the process had ended up impoverished. The Lord had brought this calamity upon them with the sole intention of making them re- evaluate their priorities and to reconsider the emphasis of their lives. They needed to be told that as they had allowed the house of the Lord to lie waste, so the Lord had allowed their efforts at enrichment to be wasted and brought to nothing. His message to them can be summarised as follows, “God’s work must come first; it must come before our own work. No excuse that contrives to subordinate God’s work to any other thing is adequate.” (Gaebelein).
Excerpts from the book “Dairy of a Prophet” by Paul Young
Published by Gospel Literature Service
Pages : 108