"5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 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.
7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. 9 You looked for much, and behold, it came to little. And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declares the Lord of hosts. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house.10 Therefore the heavens above you have withheld the dew, and the earth has withheld its produce. 11 And I have called for a drought on the land and the hills, on the grain, the new wine, the oil, on what the ground brings forth, on man and beast, and on all their labors.”
The prophet therefore summons the people to consider their ways, to look at their situation, and begin to put two and two together in relation to what had been happening to them. Their harvests had failed, their economy was not only stagnant, but precarious in the extreme, and inflation was rampant ('a bag with holes' - a graphic and up-to-date metaphor, indeed!). This is perhaps the classical expression of the doctrine that economic stringency and crisis can have a moral and spiritual cause and root. One of the saddest and most disquieting aspects of our own public life today is that there is so very little awareness in those who bear rule over us (so far as we can judge from their public utterances) that our problems might conceivably have any underlying moral and spiritual factors. But they have; and it is only spiritual obtuseness and insensitiveness that makes men blind to them. This is why it is so important to have a biblical view of life. When we have, we will recognise that it is not safe to pin our national hopes even on such an incredibly rich resource as North Sea oil, for God can turn that to nought also, as 11 makes clear. This is why it is the moral and spiritual integrity of a government, not its colour, that will ultimately tell in the welfare of a nation.