Consider Your Ways, Israel! #1

Saturday, September 21, 2013

“Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:5,6 KJV).

The Jews have built their houses, but they are apathetic that they have not finished JEHOVAH’S….

In the context of today’s Scripture, only a remnant of Jews has returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity (606-536 B.C.). Like Zechariah and Malachi, JEHOVAH has sent Haggai to instruct, encourage, and rebuke these post-exilic Israelis in Palestine. Both Haggai and Zechariah preached prior to Ezra, the priest-scribe who led a group of Jews from Babylon back to Jerusalem. Today’s Scripture, dated approximately 520 B.C., parallels Ezra 5:1.

Haggai, preaching to the returned Jews in Jerusalem and Judah, reminds them that though are now living again in the Promised Land, their lives are futile and empty (today’s Scripture). Some 15 years earlier, King Cyrus of Persia had granted the Jews permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild Solomon’s Temple (destroyed 586 B.C. by the Babylonians). However, Gentile opposition to the Jews building at that site halted construction until the time of the context of today’s Scripture (Ezra 4:23,24 cf. Haggai 1:1,2).

The prophet Haggai rebukes the Jews in Jerusalem and Judah who have built their own homes, but who could not care less that JEHOVAH’S Temple is still unfinished, nearly two decades since its construction began. “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled [roofed, covered] houses, and this house lie waste?” (Haggai 1:2-4).

We will better understand the meaning of today’s Scripture by taking a closer look at the minor prophet’s book. Let us see why Israel’s strenuous labor is yielding little reward, and if she will reform her ways….