Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes!
“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord. You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses. It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops. I have called for a drought on your fields and hills—a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olive trees and all your other crops, a drought to starve you and your livestock and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get.” (Haggai 1:3-11)
The Temple was the focal point of Judah’s relationship with God, but it was still demolished. Instead of rebuilding the Temple, the people put their energy into beautifying their own homes. However, the harder the people worked for themselves, the less they had, because they ignored their spiritual lives. Haggai encouraged the people to finish rebuilding the Temple. Opposition from hostile neighbors had caused them to feel discouraged and to neglect the Temple, and thus neglect God. But Haggai’s message turned them around and motivated them to pick up their tools and continue the work they had begun.
Today’s passage is a good reminder of priorities. The things we prioritize get the lion’s share of our attention. If we put God first, he will provide for our deepest needs. If we put him in any other place, all of our efforts will be futile. Caring only for your physical needs while ignoring your relationship with God will lead to ruin.