‘Thus speaketh HaShem of hosts, saying: This people say: The time is not come, the time that HaShem’S house should be built.’
Then came the word of HaShem by Haggai the prophet, saying:
‘Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your cieled houses, while this house lieth waste?
Now therefore thus saith HaShem of hosts: Consider your ways.
Ye have sown much, and brought in little, ye eat, but ye have not enough, ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink, ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages for a bag with holes.
Thus saith HaShem of hosts: Consider your ways.
Go up to the hill-country, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith HaShem.
Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith HaShem of hosts. Because of My house that lieth waste, while ye run every man for his own house.
Then spoke Haggai HaShem’S messenger in HaShem’S message unto the people, saying: ‘I am with you, saith HaShem.’
And HaShem stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of HaShem of hosts, their G-d, in the second year of Darius the king.
The word of HaShem by Haggai the prophet, saying:
‘Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying:
Who is left among you that saw this house in its former glory? and how do ye see it now? is not such a one as nothing in your eyes?
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith HaShem; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith HaShem, and work; for I am with you, saith HaShem of hosts.
The word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt have I established, and My spirit abideth among you; fear ye not.
For thus saith HaShem of hosts: Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the choicest things of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith HaShem of hosts.
Mine is the silver, and Mine the gold, saith HaShem of hosts.
The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former, saith HaShem of hosts; and in this place will I give peace, saith HaShem of hosts.’
‘Thus saith HaShem of hosts: Ask now the priests for instruction, saying:
If one bear hallowed flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any food, shall it be holy?’ And the priests answered and said: ‘No.’
Then said Haggai: ‘If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean?’ And the priests answered and said: ‘It shall be unclean.’
Then answered Haggai, and said: ‘So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith HaShem; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean.
And now, I pray you, consider from this day and forward–before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of HaShem, through all that time, when one came to a heap of twenty measures, there were but ten; when one came to the winevat to draw out fifty press-measures, there were but twenty;
I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the work of your hands; yet ye turned not to Me, saith HaShem– consider, I pray you, from this day and forward, even from the day that the foundation of HaShem’S temple was laid, consider it; is the seed yet in the barn? yea, the vine, and the fig-tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive-tree hath not brought forth–from this day will I bless you.’
And the word of HaShem came the second time unto Haggai, saying:
‘Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying: I will shake the heavens and the earth; and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.
In that day, saith HaShem of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, My servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith HaShem, and will make thee as a signet; for I have chosen thee, saith HaShem of hosts.’
"I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands."—Haggai 2:17.
HOW destructive is the hail to the standing crops, beating out the precious grain upon the ground! How grateful ought we to be when the corn is spared so terrible a ruin! Let us offer unto the Lord thanksgiving. Even more to be dreaded are those mysterious destroyers—smut, bunt, rust, and mildew. These turn the ear into a mass of soot, or render it putrid, or dry up the grain, and all in a manner so beyond all human control that the farmer is compelled to cry, "This is the finger of God." Innumerable minute fungi cause the mischief, and were it not for the goodness of God, the rider on the black horse would soon scatter famine over the land. Infinite mercy spares the food of men, but in view of the active agents which are ready to destroy the harvest, right wisely are we taught to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." The curse is abroad; we have constant need of the blessing. When blight and mildew come they are chastisements from heaven, and men must learn to hear the rod, and Him that hath appointed it.
Spiritually, mildew is no uncommon evil. When our work is most promising this blight appears. We hoped for many conversions, and lo! a general apathy, an abounding worldliness, or a cruel hardness of heart! There may be no open sin in those for whom we are labouring, but there is a deficiency of sincerity and decision sadly disappointing our desires. We learn from this our dependence upon the Lord, and the need of prayer that no blight may fall upon our work. Spiritual pride or sloth will soon bring upon us the dreadful evil, and only the Lord of the harvest can remove it. Mildew may even attack our own hearts, and shrivel our prayers and religious exercises. May it please the great Husbandman to avert so serious a calamity. Shine, blessed Sun of Righteousness, and drive the blights away.