Most everyone at some time in their life has had a bag of some kind that has had a hole in it. You began to place something into the bag and before too long you noticed that it was leaking or falling out of the bag because the bag has a hole in it. It is interesting that God through the prophet Haggai used this illustration to make a spiritual point in the lives of God’s people. “You have sown much, and bring in little, you eat, but you have not enough, you drink, but you are not filled with drink, you cloth yourselves, but there is none warm, and he that earns wages, earns wages to put in a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:6). What was happening and what should have been happening?
The people of God had turned away from him and his law and the result was that God allowed King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to conquer Jerusalem (Judah) and destroy the Temple in 586 B.C., that had been constructed by Solomon some four to five hundred years earlier. Many of the Jews were carried into captivity and after seventy years through God’s will some of them began to return to Jerusalem and the tasks before them were to rebuild the city walls and the Temple of God. The problem was that the Jews rebuilt the wall and the city and reestablished themselves with their lives and jobs, but they forgot all about the Temple of God. Life was good for a while and they thought that they did not need God. They had forgotten why Jerusalem had been destroyed and they had been under foreign rule for seventy years. The work of rebuilding the Temple had begun, but now the work had stopped due to the attitude of the people. “Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built” (Haggai 1:2). God had already authorized the rebuilding of the Temple, but the people said “The time is not come…” As a result of that attitude of disobedience God disciplined them again by not blessing their crops, their jobs, their families, and so many other material things, and told them that all they were doing was like trying to fill up a bag that had holes in it. God said; “Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house…” (Haggai 1:7).
Is it possible for the Lord’s church today to be filling a bag with holes as the Jews did? The church may be trying to fill a bag with holes when a congregation or members of the church do not see the value in taking the gospel to the world (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:19). It is so easy for Christians or even a congregation of the Lord’s people to be caught up in the material things and enjoy the material blessings of God to the exclusion of seeing the real purpose of the church. “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10). As Christians and even congregations we need to consider seriously how much that we are actually giving to the Lord’s work each first day of the week and in our daily lives.
The church may be trying to fill a bag with holes when traditional ways of doing things are not evaluated in light of the Word of God (Colossians 3:17). The Jews had decided that the Temple did not need to be built at that time in spite of the fact that God said it did. Human traditions may violate the will of God in some cases, or in other situations may be hindering the doing of the will of God. Obviously the church should not violate the will of God by establishing a human tradition and it should not allow a right expedient to become an hindrance to doing the will of God. Expedients should expedite the doing of the will of God in the right way. Haggai’s responsibility was to teach and motivate the people of God to take their focus off of themselves, which amounted to trying to fill a bag with holes, and place their focus where it belonged, on God and his will. May the Lord’s church and Christians individually have the proper focus.