“Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it(vv.13-14)”.
The adverb ‘therefore’ at the beginning of the key verses signifies the passage that went before. Israel’s backsliding would bring consequences and these shall be in no manner proportionate to what they had foolishly invited upon themselves. Hell hath enlarged itself is what happens when sin is left unattended. A stitch in time saves nine, is it not? Because the nation have no knowledge it is like a dead fly that can make the art of apothecary useless. “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour(Eccles.10:1).”Sin may seem trifle but can defile entire nature of man and when Adam hides himself away after his fall, lest God should confront him what did God? “Where art thou?,’ God confronted him (Gen.3:9). Sin made Adam attend to his nakedness and the apron of leaves is as useless as many schemes the nations adopt to improve their image. Without a proper vision about God they are sure to perish.
Lack of knowledge is no excuse. God has made wisdom free for all and it is what we read, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all liberally…(Jas.1:5)” Only we need appropriate in faith. So when one refuses knowledge it tells of something seriously wrong. It was thus Israel who was certain that glory and honor of the kings of Gentile nations were worthy of emulation. If that entailed them to go whole length and go whoring after their gods, of what worth was it? The worldly empires seek glory by enlarging their circumstance by wars. It is like the manner people play at stocks. Instant riches are merely a pipe dream when a global economic downturn wipes all their gains. The Great Depression of 2009 and also in 2008 are so vivid in public memory but has to sobered up modern man? Instead of empowering common people with the wherewithal of education and opportunities what can wealth do? Those who have want more and may stoop to any despicable act in order to achieve their ends. In their greed are they enlightened? No on the contrary many become all the more brutish, It is what sin does. By the same rationale the nations go to war. Wars have never solved problems and yet nations still speak the language of threat and annihilation. Remember the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? We read that Hell followed with him (Death) Re.6:8). Having said this shall we come back to the question of Haggai? “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin? (Hag.1:4-NIV)” Your body is a house, and a temple,. When you have lost your moral compass you are like the salt that has lost its savor. what decisions you take are only fit for being trodden underfoot. It is what earthly wisdom would mean.
“And the mean man shall be brought down, and the mighty man shall be humbled, and the eyes of the lofty shall be humbled(v.15):
Sin has no eyes nor has it resect unto persons. Poor and the rich are its fodder.
“But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness. Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat(v.16-17)”.
Partially truth of this has been borne out true in our own times. Palestine was the outback of the Ottoman Empire and after God led the dispersed Jews to their homeland we are seeing its aftereffects. God has a controversy with nations which had dealt so unjustly with the poor and needy. For the wise such partial judgments must lead to introspection. When the Lord comes again to gather his saints where shall we be? With the Lord Savior in mid-air or be trodden underfoot?
The rest of the verses in this chapter is to be read and what happened to Israel shall hold good to the churches as well. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come (1 Co.10:11)”.