Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough. You drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly I say to you, you are seeking me not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”
Consider your ways. Put your heart on your road. Where are you going? Where are your habits, your desires, your lifestyle, your priorities leading you?
Ostensibly the passage in Haggai refers to the people taking more time for themselves than for their God. They build their houses, work their fields, press their wine and olives, but leave the temple in ruins like a dead body rotting among them. What is the result? Where does that road lead them? To hunger, thirst and poverty. It is likely these were physically felt. It is also likely they are a double reference including the state of their hearts. Body and soul are intertwined, that’s why the imagery of hunger and thirst are used throughout the Bible to describe the needs of them both. The returned exiles in Haggai have been working hard with little to show for it.
Then we come to John. Jesus fed a crowd of more than five thousand with a few fish and loaves of bread. They followed the healer teacher and received a free meal. They continued to follow, expecting he would supply again. Instead he rebukes them. I can hear him echoing that repeated phrase from Haggai. Consider your ways. You just want food that won’t satisfy. Are you really going to follow me around the countryside just to get a free meal? Where will that lead you? Do you not feel the hunger of your soul? If your goal is something that perishes, you will always be searching, longing and never truly satisfied.
It is ironic to me that when King David first suggested building a temple, it was somewhat scandalous, yet here it is the Lord chastising His people for neglecting it. The tabernacle had shown that God was with His people, no matter where they went, yet nothing earthly can contain him. The first temple was built out of praise, thankfulness, a desire for the Lord of host’s presence and ongoing blessing. It was a work of art, a reminder, a place to meet with God and receive forgiveness under the law. When the exiles returned, they returned to ruins and opposition. The now local residents didn’t want the returned exiles to rebuild the city walls or their homes, not to mention the temple! So they focused on what they needed to live in a harsh shattering of hopes upon returning to their promised, now broken, land. The temple remained in ruins, that festering dead body.
As we turn to the New Testament we know that God begins to use the imagery of a temple as God’s dwelling place in ways that completely overflow the physical temple. Christ calls himself the temple, and then later we as believers are called the temple of God. Although the Israelites at this time would not have been familiar with this radical shift in imagery, God is. God is ever weaving His eternal plan throughout history. In hindsight we have the benefit of seeing that although the physical temple did need to be rebuilt, God was also referring to their hearts! They had neglected their walk with Him being consumed with their own needs and wants. They sought the food and drink that perishes and cannot renew the soul. In Haggai, He pointed out their emptiness of soul, the lack of fruit from their endeavors and completely misguided priorities. Consider your ways and where you’re headed! By speaking to them through His prophet, He is calling them back to Himself. Remember me? The Lord of hosts, who is enthroned above the nations, above the hearts of men, above the forces of nature, above your suffering, above your daily incessant needs. I am enthroned.
After being chastised by Jesus in John 6 the crowd asks what they need to do. Jesus’ simple answer is to believe in Him. Believe, and you will eat food that does not perish. Believe, and you will drink eternal water. Believe, and your temple will rise from its rotten dead flesh to breath and live and love. Believe.
Consider your ways. Are you fixed on Christ? Or are you putting your wages in a bag with holes, never to truly be enjoyed?