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Danger of Spiritual Apathy

Haggai 1:6 (ESV) … “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.”

The harder the people worked, the less they seemed to have. The Law of Moses spoke directly to their condition (Deuteronomy 28:38–39; Leviticus 26:18–26). If they had heeded God’s Word, they would have recognized the symptoms. It is a basic economic principle in both Old and New Testaments that if we are niggardly toward God, He will be niggardly toward us. We cannot neglect the spiritual dimension and then expect God to bless the secular dimension.

The relationship between spiritual prosperity and secular prosperity—the law of sowing and reaping—was particularly discernible in the Old Testament. There God was dealing with an earthly people. The Old Testament blessing was “the blessing of the Lord [that] maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22). Incidentally, Job’s friends judged him by the criterion of the law of sowing and reaping; there were other factors in the equation though, as the book of Job demonstrates.

This criterion is modified in the New Testament since there God is dealing with a heavenly people and He wants us to set our affection on things above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God (see Colossians 3:1–2). That is why the so-called prosperity gospel—so fondly preached by both liberals and charismatics—is false. God is not handing out brochures offering health, prosperity, and worldly success to those who are saved. The New Testament blessing is embodied in the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1–12), which sound strange to worldly and carnal ears.

Haggai’s task was to awaken a people sunk in spiritual apathy to a sense of true spiritual values. This apathy was nothing new. It was spiritual apathy that had bred apostasy in the days of the kings. Because of widespread indifference, only fifty thousand of the millions in captivity were willing to return to the promised land. Even those who should have been especially dedicated to the Lord were uninterested. Of the twenty-four orders of the priesthood, only four returned; of the thousands of Levites, only seventy-four responded to the call (Ezra 2:36–40). Haggai challenged the spiritually lethargic people in Judea to consider their ways.[1]

[1] Phillips, J. (2009). Exploring the Minor Prophets: An Expository Commentary (Hag 1:5–6). Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp.

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