The people probably did not literally say these things in in verses 2-4. God says this is what He concludes as a result of what they are doing. It is the same principle as appears in Revelation 3:17, "You say you are increased with goods and have need of nothing." There, too, they were not saying that literally with their tongues but by their actions.
We choose to do with our time and energy what we are devoted to. This is why God said we have to go back to "the faith once delivered" with our former devotion. Whatever is in the heart, we choose to do. It is just as if we were saying it with our tongue.
What God is saying is that for those who have made the covenant with Him, everyday life and its prosperity is directly tied to the condition of the Temple and the quality of our relationship to it. "Prosperity" does not necessarily mean economic prosperity, but that is part of the package. The Temple is the body of Christ. It is just a different analogy.
The message contained here is, "Let's put first things first," and the Temple'the Body of Christ'comes first. The condition of the Body is dependent upon the spiritual condition of the individual members of the Body.
The church is in no condition to produce glory and honor for our God. So people running out, "sowing in the field," does not suit matters right now. If the efforts to preach the gospel are going to be successful, then we have to do what God, through Haggai and Zechariah, instructed Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest to do.
John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 5)
For those who are actively seeking God, now is always the time for the Lord's house to be built. The people of Haggai's day were saying, maybe not verbally, but their inaction spoke volumes, "Let's wait until a more favorable time to build the Temple." What made this particular time unfavorable? They wanted to take care of their own projects! They placed their own material comforts higher in priority than their spiritual obligation—God's work in their day—to rebuild the Temple. They spared no expense in doing well for themselves (e.g., their "paneled houses," verse 4), but to them the economy was not favorable for building the Temple.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The World, the Church, and Laodiceanism