The Prophet Haggai has reminded the Jews of the many problems they have faced over the past few years and has explained why the Lord has cursed the works of their hands–they have disobeyed Him. Haggai’s warnings are not the first time they had heard God “speak” about His Law of cause and effect, sowing and reaping. In Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 Moses had explained for them (and us) how the Lord deals with mankind. Over time the Jews, along with the other Israelite tribes before them, had rejected His Law. They had rejected the Truth that there are prerequisites to being blessed by Him and cursed by Him. Everything man has in this life comes from the earth. The earth can give to man what he needs to live comfortably, or refuse to do so. GOD CONTROLS THE EARTH AND THE ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS THAT DETERMINE WHETHER IT GIVES OR WITHHOLDS ITS PRODUCE.
In the first few verses of the chapters mentioned above the Lord promises to provide blessings FOR those who obey His Words. He then goes to great length to tell Israel and us what He will do TO those who fail to obey His Words: “I will make your heaven as iron and your earth as brass. Your strength will be spent in vain. Your land will not yield its increase, neither will the trees of the land yield their fruit” (Lev. 26:19,20). In Job 38:28; 37:11-13 we find the Lord–the “Father of rain”–telling us through Job that He uses rain, or the withholding thereof, as a teaching tool, “whether for CORRECTION or for MERCY.” God uses rain to show His love for obedient man. He also uses it for correction of those who walk the wrong path. King Solomon voiced this Truth in 2 Chronicles 6:26 where he wrote that God withholds rain as punishment for sin, calling it God’s afflicting action. We also know that He uses excessive rain as a tool of correction. Continuing with the conditional promises of these prophesies, the Lord says in Leviticus 26:4: “But if you will not hearken unto Me, and will not obey My commandments ….” He goes on to warn that He will bring afflictions on the people in the form of ever-intensifying curses, the likes of which the world has never seen (vss 16-25). We are now witnessing the beginning of those promised curses for disobedience. As bad as things are, the worst is yet to come. And yet, God tells us, man will not turn from his wickedness. Both the churched and the unchurched will “dig in their heels,” as we say, and continue to follow Satan.
On the other hand the Lord also withholds rain as a form of correction. Drought is normally accompanied by mildew (Deut. 28:22; 11:17). In Amos 4:7,8 we find Him saying: “And also I have withheld the rain from you. I caused it to rain upon one city and not to rain on another city, one area of land and not on another area of land.” Why? “Because you have not RETURNED TO ME.” In verse 9 He says: “I have smitten you with blasting (scorching wind) and mildew.” The Prophet Nahum tells us in 1:3 that “The Lord has His way in the whirlwind (tornado and hurricane) and in the storm.” Notice that so-called nature does not just happen, either in positive or negative form. God tells us that HE SENDS storms, blasting, mildew, drought, winds, etc. on the churched and the unchurched who, if they do not obey Him. This we must understand: GOD VIEWS THE SINNERS–CHURCHED AND UNCHURCHED–EQUALLY. Their end is the same–death. Romans 6:23 tells us that spiritual death awaits those who break His Law (1 Jn. 2:6) and refuse to receive God’s gift of life by repenting and returning to Him. Those who refuse His offer call themselves “sinners saved by grace” who are headed for a heavenly home. God calls them “reprobates” who will burn in hellfire. Though this Truth is taught numerous times throughout the Scriptures, the church refuses to acknowledge this aspect of the Lord. She rejects the fact that, though Jesus came as a lamb, He will return as a lion. His greatest wrath will be unleashed on those who called Him “Lord, Lord” but refused to obey His Word.
God’s purpose in correcting sinners is to DRAW THEM BACK TO HIM. Understand this, following birth, UNTIL MAN SINS, HE BELONGS TO GOD. Man is not born with sin inherited from Adam. God is no respecter of persons. He causes all men to come into this world exactly as did Adam of Eden and Jesus of Nazareth–neither evil nor righteous. Following the beginning of the age of accountability, man chooses to obey God or Satan. The child Jesus chose to obey God. The rest of us did not. Sin is always a choice. Until we sin we belong to our Maker. We have all sinned. Therefore He uses a variety of tactics to convince us to RETURN TO OUR MAKER. L.J.