Watchword for the Month
“You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
Haggai’s 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 in a poor state, neglected and left unattended. Haggai challenged his generation of being comfortable in their own homes while the Temple of the Lord was neglected. It reminds me of many of our Church buildings that needs a lot of care to maintain it and we do not find willing members to avail themselves or avail finances to provide for the renovations and maintenance of our Church buildings.
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, gave the Jews permission to return to their homeland and rebuild the city wall of Jerusalem, and the ruined sanctuary of the Lord.
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 for their own needs – 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.
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, through His Son Jesus Christ, so that we might live and receive life eternal.
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 hearts? Do we offer Him our sacrifice of praise; live a life that honors His name in thought, word, deed and motive? Do we bring honor 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, we are so quick to recognize the faults and failings of Your people Israel, and yet we are also guilty in neglecting our own duties towards You. It should be our delight and joy to serve You in Spirit and in truth, for by Your grace we have been forgiven of our sins, received life eternal and have all we need for our lives and our godliness. Forgive us for the times we have placed our wants and our wishes before honoring Your holy name and giving You the glory and respect, You alone deserve. Thank You for the many blessings we have received out of Your hands and help us never to become complacent about our great salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN.
Rev. Lionel Erasmus