The Indifference of the People Rebuked.

When the exiles, under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua, had returned to Jerusalem, they had begun the work of rebuilding the Temple with great eagerness. But when the Samaritans and others had placed various obstacles in their way, they had discontinued their efforts, making no determined effort to remove the difficulties. A few years after, when a certain measure of prosperity was found in Judea, they grew indifferent to the project, and so the situation continued for some sixteen years. It was then that the Lord selected Haggai as His messenger to rebuke the people. V. 1. In the second year of Darius, the king, the year 520 B. C., in the sixth month, that is, of the Jewish year, corresponding roughly to our September, in the first day of the month, came the word of the Lord by Haggai, the prophet, who was therefore simply the medium through which the Lord communicated His message and in no way presented his own ideas, unto Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the son of Josedech, the high priest, cp. Ezra 3, 2, saying, V. 2. Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the prophet employing this formula in order to bring out the importance of his message, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lordís house should be built, that being the lame excuse with which the people tried to cover their indifference, for they had reached a stage in which they were ready to let matters take their course, allow them to drift along. V. 3. Then came the word of the Lord by Haggai, the prophet, saying, V. 4. Is It time for you, O ye, to dwell In your celled houses, for yourselves to dwell in wainscoted houses, paneled in the most expensive manner, showing that they lived not only in comfort, but in luxury, and this house lie waste? since it had never gotten beyond the foundations, only the altar of burnt offerings standing on the top of Moriah. V. 5. Now, therefore, thus saith the Lord of hosts, Consider your ways, literally, ďSet your hearts upon your ways,Ē contemplating the consequences of their late behavior and upon the manner in which the Lord had regarded it, as His treatment of them showed. V. 6. Ye have sown much, or have been sowing much, in the expectation of big crops, and bring in little, the harvest being small in spite of all their efforts; ye eat, but ye have not enough, they were not really satisfied in spite of the apparent abundance; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, seemingly having enough clothes, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put It Into a bag with holes, that is, they found themselves unable to save anything. All this indicated that there could be no real prosperity without the blessing of the Lord, and that was evidently lacking, as it always is when people think only of themselves and not of Him. V. 7. Thus saith the Lord of hosts Consider your ways, think them over very carefully, for the matter was urgent, V. 8. Go up to the mountain, to the great forests of the country, and bring wood, timber for building, and build the house; and I will take pleasure In It, glad to regard it as the house where He might be worshiped, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord, receiving the honor which was due to Him, which had been withheld on account of their indifference to the state of His house. V. 9. Ye looked for much, expecting still greater crops and a corresponding prosperity, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, believing that at least the little which they had gotten was safe, I did blow upon it, thus dissipating and scattering it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. He Himself undertakes to explain this condition to the people in order to explain it to them more impressively. Because of Mine house that is waste, still unfinished and desolate, and ye run every man unto his own house, in a base selfishness, which regarded only their own interests. V. 10. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, withholding the moisture necessary to insure full crops, and the earth is stayed from her fruit, it does not yield even its ordinary harvest. V. 11. And I called for a drought upon the land, upon the cultivated fields, and upon the mountains, with their rich meadows, and upon the corn, the grain products, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, all the chief products of the country, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labor of the hands, His blessing being withheld from all animate and inanimate beings. - This earnest rebuke was heeded by the people. V. 12. Then Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua, the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, all the rest of the returned exiles, obeyed the voice of the Lord, their God, and the words of Haggai, the prophet, as the Lord, their God, had sent him, probably an additional discourse or a further explanation which was not recorded, and the people did fear before the Lord, with reverence and awe. V. 13. Then, when the people showed such obvious signs of repentance, spake Haggai, the Lordís messenger, in the Lordís message unto the people, the fact that his mission was that of Jehovah being brought out time and again, saying, I am with you, saith the Lord, He accepted their repentance as genuine and acted accordingly. V. 14. And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua, the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people, and they came and did work, they took steps to continue building operations, in the house of the Lord of hosts, their God, V. 15. in the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, twenty-three days after the first message of Haggai, in the second year of Darius, the king. When people are filled with the spirit of repentance and of the fear of the Lord, it is an easy matter for them to take up any part of the work which the Lord has entrusted to them, and to bring it to a successful issue, with His blessing.