The Prophet Haggai and his friend Zechariah refocused the spiritual attention of the people of Israel. The jews had been taken into captivity when Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonians, conquered Jerusalem and razed the Temple (2 kings 25:8 - 12).
8 And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 9 He burned the house of the LORD and the king’s house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire. 10 And all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down the walls of Jerusalem all around.
11 Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive the rest of the people who remained in the city and the defectors who had deserted to the king of Babylon, with the rest of the multitude. 12 But the captain of the guard left some of the poor of the land as vinedressers and farmers.
When the Medo-Persians conquered the Babylonians, they inherited the Jews still in caaptivity. But God, who was working out his purposes in human history, had worked in the heart of Cyrus, king of Persia. Cyrus gave permission for the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple.
After the people had been back in Jerusalem for eighteen years, only the altar had been rebuilt. Why was this? God's people had allowed themselves to be distracted and discouraged (Ezra 4:4 - 5).
4 Then the people of the land tried to discourage the people of Judah. They troubled them in building, 5 and hired counselors against them to frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
They set up their shops and began to build their own paneled houses while God's house remained in ruins. So God judged the people's materialistic attitude that had caused them to forget about him: "You have planted much but harvested little. You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up.... You have clothing to wear, but not enough to keep you warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! (Haggai 1:6).
6 “ You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”
For us all it's easy to be distracted from the will and work of God to build our paneled houses while God's house lies waste. It is imperative that we take stock of the investment we are making in God's kingdom befor we get totally absorbed with our own interests. We will never be satisfied if we allow ourselves to drift into such a materialistic mind-set. As we reorder our priorities, we will realize that no house will ever be big enough, no clothes will ever be pretty enough, and no amount of money will ever satisfy. We will feel as if we're putting our money into pockets filled with holes. Let us consider our ways (Haggai 1:5), and ask God to help us keep everything in the right persepctive.
5 Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways!