Desire of Nations
Of all of the messianic descriptions of Jesus, the Desire of Nations has to be one of my favorites. Perhaps you haven’t bothered to think about it recently but each morning when you get up, you are being driven by a desire. What causes you to go to work, to school, to pursue a relationship, to teach others, to help your community, to work out? I was having a chat with an executive a while back and I was telling him how my true passion in life is to preach the gospel and see lives changed. This man was very successful in real estate. By earthly standards, he was a total success: money, power, respect, meaningful career, comforts of wealth. He said to me, “Zac, I envy you. I can’t say that I’m passionate about life right now.”
Wait a minute… you… envy me?
Isn’t that funny? The rich and powerful can be living a passionless life.
The psalmist writes:
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God! My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2)
David, one of the greatest kings of history, writes this:
“One thing I have asked and this is what I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” (Psalm 27:4)
What are you seeking?
Advertisers know that human kind is driven by secret desires. They have identified them; they use them to their advantage. It fits their gospel of, “Have this, do this, go here, and then….”
And then what? … you will be satisfied, accepted, happy, honored, successful. But is it really so?
In the time of prophet Haggai, the Lord is speaking to the people of Israel during a time of devastation. He first rebukes them for their complacency and their failure to build his house (the temple) while they are so consumed with their own houses and pursuits. The prophet’s message builds up to a crescendo with this messianic prophecy: “And I will shake all nations. And the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts.” (Haggai 2:7 KJV)
In this word, there are three key elements: the shaking of all nations, the desire of all nations coming, and the filling of the house of God with glory.
Each of these three elements deserves a sermon (or series) on its own. But I will provide a brief overview. Remember, this was a time of devastation. Israel had been judged and taken captive due its sinfulness and idolatry.
Kind of feels like where America is heading.
Are you going through a time of devastation in your work, marriage, relationships, health, or simply living a passionless life? Take the word of the prophet Haggai to heart and ask yourself whose house you have been building? Ask yourself who your nation is worshiping? The answer isn’t difficult to find.
In the midst of Israel’s state, the Lord says I will shake all nations. To those suffering, this may sound comforting. To those sitting comfortably, this may sound terrifying. But the word of the prophet Isaiah, and of Jesus will come to pass.
“All men are like grass and their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fade away, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.” (Isaiah 40)
Jesus says in Matthew 24:1-14 that we will see great shakings in the earth. Wars and rumors of wars, pestilence, famines, earthquakes. He says that the earth is giving birth to the kingdom of God. Not that the kingdom comes from earth but rather the earth is in labor… the old order of things is passing away. Interestingly, these shakings are part of the declaration that the temple will be torn down. This is the temple that was rebuilt in Haggai’s time. It was destroyed a second time.
Jesus tells Pontius Pilate before his crucifixion that,
“My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36)
The prophet Isaiah also tells us of the final day of judgment in which the heavens will be shaken and the earth will move out of her place. (Is. 13:9-13)
The apostle Paul teaches us that “…the things that are seen are temporary but the unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
I have spent much time working in real estate. Ever since the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, there has been the utmost concern for the safety of buildings and their earthquake readiness. Rebar, tempered steel, counter weights that sway in the opposing direction as a building is shaken during an earthquake. These are all designed to try to prevent devastation. But man’s preparations only goes so far. Another example is the new Bay Bridge (billions of dollars over budget) and it’s already exhibiting cracks in its integrity.
Let’s bring this to 2016. What is being shaken? We have terrorists on the rise with radical Islam all over the earth. We have whole nations gone bankrupt. We have China, Russia, Iran and others vying to become a new power in the world. We have a nation in America that once obeyed and feared God and his Word but that now is confused, divided, morally reprobate, idolatrous. People put their trust in a government that is nearly 20 trillion in debt. 20,000,000,000,000 in debt! Louisiana is majorly flooded as has been parts of Texas. Wildfires raging in California, droughts. We now have a movement of people hating the police force and encouraging lawlessness and blaming them for the problems of society. We have a nation that has perverted and redefined marriage. A nation that slaughters its unborn in the womb. A nation that’s more concerned with chickens in cages than with souls being saved and human beings.
I will shake all nations says the Lord God Almighty. You see, we are no better than anyone else in history. It is the epitome of arrogance to think that the Judge of all the Earth will not execute his righteous judgment upon us too. Kingdoms will rise, and kingdoms will fall. Only the Word of the Lord abides forever.
But just as the hard ground must be plowed up before the seed can grow, so the nations must be shaken. Why? To show that all their desires and hopes were falsely founded. This prepares the way for the Desire of All Nations to come.
(Some translations render Haggai 2:7 differently. I believe the KJV and NIV 84 get it right.)
Could it be that all the warring, raging, striving, and laboring of the nations is in vain? The prophet Habakkuk says that, “Has not the Lord Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire?” (Hab. 2:13) And the psalmist writes, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” (Psalm 127:1)
All that can be shaken, will be shaken. This must happen so that the ground is prepared. The shaking and breaking create a need for comfort, for building, for healing. Now let’s look at the promises that follow.
In the beginnings of the gospels, Luke records an encounter with a man named Simeon. He was a righteous and devout man and he was waiting for the Consolation of Israel. (Luke 2:25)
“Blessed are the poor (crushed, oppressed, weary) in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Jesus says in Matthew 5.
Think about desire for a minute. Isn’t it different depending on your need?
The desire of the oppressed, is relief. The desire of the sick is healing. The desire of the fatherless is to have a family. The desire of the hungry is to be filled. The desire of the lonely is love. The desire of the fearful is to have peace and safety. The desire of the poor is provision.
The Desire of All Nations shall come.
We are now living in the reality of that prophecy. The messiah has come. And promises to come again.
“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (Heb. 9:27-8)
Another example of this messianic title is seen in the encounter with the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus speaks with a woman at the well in Samaria. Jews did not associate with Samaritans, nor was it common for a man to be talking to a woman in public. Yet Jesus shows himself as the desire of nations by his disregard for these barriers. Jesus asks the woman for a drink and eventually the conversation transposes into Jesus revealing himself as the Messiah.
He tells her, “Believe me woman, a time is coming when you will neither worship the Father on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For these are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (John 4:21&23)
Jesus Christ is the desire of nations. Just as he met the deepest desire of a foreign woman at a well, he is here to meet yours. He is here to satisfy your soul and show you his eternal kingdom, whether you are in China, Brazil, Zimbabwe, France, or America.
You see, the Desire of Nations had to come the first time in order to purify sins. Why? Because God had a final goal in mind.
“… and I will fill this house with glory.” saith the Lord of Hosts (Haggai 2:7)
Some argue a mere human interpretation. But Jesus himself when speaking to the Pharisees says,
“Destroy this temple and I will raise it in three days.” (John 2:19-21)
The apostle Peter says,
We are built together like living stones to be a spiritual house to the Lord. (1 Peter 2:1-5)
The apostle Paul says, do you not know that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit who was given to you? (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
Moments before his murder, the martyr Stephen declares:
“However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is my throne and earth is my footstool. What house will you build for me says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest?’ “ (Acts 7:48-9)
We see then that this is not an earthly temple of stone, timber, or gold that the Lord is speaking of. He is speaking of the hearts of men.
How then shall God fill this house with glory? Through Jesus Christ the hope of glory. Poured out into our hearts by faith and when we receive him as he knocks at the door of every man’s heart. The Holy Spirit given on Pentecost was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy that in the last days the Lord will pour out his Spirit on all flesh.
Picture a beautiful sunset on the beach. Picture a grand castle or mansion which you have been in or seen from afar. Picture the most beautiful woman or most handsome man. The glory of the Lord exceeds them all. It is not an earthly glory but a heavenly one.
We are approaching the end of all time when this earth and heaven will be shaken. The Messiah has come but promises that he will come once again to gather his church, the living temple to himself for eternity. Jesus Christ is the desire of nations. Do not be afraid at what you see around you or in your own life. Remember the shaking has a purpose… to create desire in the hearts of all nations.
To anyone reading this who does not know this Jesus. You can know him today. Invite him into your life to be your Lord and Savior. Turn from evil and ask for him to fill you with glory. And he will.
All the desires of the ages are met in him.
Blessings to you all.