THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS SHALL COME.
"For thus saith the Lord of hosts: Yet once [more] 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 Desire of all Nations
shall come; and I will fill this house with glory,
saith the Lord of hosts."--Hag. 2:6,7.
HERE IS ONE of the richest promises in the blessed Word of God. It is the gospel in a nutshell--the gospel of grace to the world and of glory to the Church; and it is signed at both ends with the signature of the Sovereign of the universe, Jehovah of hosts. It was thus uttered by the mouth of one of his holy prophets--Haggai. But though with the other writings of the prophets it was held sacred as the Word of the Lord and reverently read by his anciently chosen people, fleshly Israel, their understanding of it fell far short of its true significance; and not until the holy Spirit was given as a comforter, a guide into all truth and a revealer of things to come (John 14:26; 16:13), was the precious import of this declaration of Jehovah made manifest to his saints (the gospel Church), as it has been through his holy apostles and prophets.--Eph. 3:5.
Fleshly Israel thought they saw in this declaration an intimation of the exaltation and universal dominion of their nation, the fall of the Persian kingdom and the subserviency of all other nations to them, and that the house of Israel, thus exalted and enthroned above all the nations, would be filled with the glory of the Lord and recognized by all the world as God's specially chosen and honored people--a holy nation and a royal priesthood. With such a hope in view they diligently and cheerily worked to rebuild the ruined temple and to repair the fallen walls of Jerusalem after the decree of the Persian monarch, Cyrus, granted them liberty to return from captivity. But centuries rolled on; the Persian empire fell but Israel's glory still tarried; for they only passed from under the dominion of Persia to that of Greece, and then of Rome; and then, as a nation scattered and peeled, they were driven out of the land of their fathers--the land of divine promise--and scattered among all nations and persecuted among them all unto this day.
What then? has God's promise failed? or has he forgotten it? No; for the Apostle Paul, under the leading of the holy Spirit, calls it to mind again (Heb. 12:26-28) and shows that the house which is to be thus filled with the glory of the Lord is not the fleshly house or kingdom of Israel, but the spiritual house or kingdom of God--the Gospel Church.
The shaking of the earth mentioned in this text [R3052 : page 234] presupposes a former shaking, and this one is shown to be the last. The former shaking was that typified in the quaking of the earth at the giving of the law at Sinai; for under the law, says the Apostle, every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, and at various intervals the nation was thoroughly shaken and sifted by captivities and otherwise, that only the loyal and true might remain. (See Hebrews 12:25,26; 2:2; 3:17; 10:28.) But this last shaking is to be a greater shaking than fleshly Israel ever experienced; it is to be a shaking of the heavens [symbol of the ruling power] and the earth [all organized and law-abiding society] and the sea [the lawless and anarchistic elements] and the dry land [the established aristocracy of wealth and social independence]. And it is to be a shaking, not only of one nation, but of all nations--"And I will [R3053 : page 234] shake all nations." Surely this predicted shaking of all nations is but a repetition of the prophecy of Daniel (12:1) of a great time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation.
But the Apostle Paul gives us the comforting assurance that "This word, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, that the things that cannot be shaken may remain." And he further shows (Heb. 12:28) that that which will remain after the shaking, and which cannot be moved, will be the kingdom of God, which we shall inherit if we prove worthy--i.e., if we stand all the tests and shakings and cannot be shaken out.
The Apostle, in stating that the kingdom of God --the true Church, the elect--cannot be shaken, thereby intimates that it shall not be exempted from those blasts that shall shake and utterly remove all other organizations, but rather that the true, elect Church shall not be moved by them. Her foundation is sure. "God is in the midst of her, and she shall not be moved." (Psa. 46:5.) As a matter of fact, we find ourselves today in the midst of these perilous and disintegrating influences. The storm is rising, and, as predicted, it is felt first by the Lord's little flock of consecrated believers. Their faith and patience and zeal and endurance are being tried by every means that the adversary can devise. Every device of error is being put forth in its most pleasing and subtle form; and advantage is being taken of every weakness of the flesh to overcome those who are endeavoring to fight the good fight of faith and to overcome the world, the flesh and the devil.
And when we consider that "we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities, and powers, and against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:12), we realize that the contest is a very unequal one unless we lay hold upon the strength which God supplies to us through Christ.
The Apostle's language further intimates that since only that which cannot be shaken will remain and will inherit the kingdom, all others will fall. And in this light the words of the Psalmist--"A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand"--are seen to be no exaggeration. Nor should the faithful few be at all dismayed when the various shakings sift out their number; for so it must be until only that which cannot be shaken shall remain. Thus the whole nominal church, both within and outside the various organizations, must be shaken until only the true and faithful remain; for God will gather out of his kingdom all things that offend.--Matt. 13:41.
But this shaking is permitted, not only to sift out of the Church all shakeable things, but it is to extend to all the nations; and so unprepared are they for the storm that is coming, and so unable to resist it, that the Apostle, with prophetic foresight, declares that their shaking signifies their removal (Heb. 12:27); and further, that their removal is not in order that anarchy may prevail, but in order that the kingdom of God, which cannot be shaken, may take their place.
Thank God for the prospect of an unshakeable kingdom, whose kings shall reign in righteousness and whose princes shall decree justice (Isa. 32:1; Prov. 8:15), and under whose dominion the whole earth shall be at rest. (Isa. 14:7.) This is the kingdom which the Prophet declares will indeed be "the desire of all nations," when it is once established and its blessings begin to be realized by the world. Yes, truly "the desire of all nations shall come"--with blessings of life and health and peace and prosperity and good government. It is for this coming kingdom and its blessings that the whole creation groans and travails together in pain, waiting for the adoption, viz., "the redemption of our body"--the body of Christ, the heirs of the kingdom. (Rom. 8:22.) As soon as this body is all selected, fitted and tested, then the kingdom will be established and the desire of all nations will have come--the long desired peace and prosperity which every experiment of their own will have failed to secure. And doubtless every possible experiment will have been tried and proved futile before that time; the last, that of socialism, ending in universal anarchy.
It is this body of Christ, this spiritual house of Israel, which, though lashed by many a storm, nevertheless "cannot be shaken," because it is firmly founded upon the Rock Christ Jesus: it is this house that Paul calls "the temple of God" (I Cor. 3:16; 6:19) that is to inherit the kingdom of God, and that Jehovah says he is going to fill with his glory.
He will fill it with the glory of the divine nature:
he will make every member of it like unto Christ's
glorious body: he will endue them with power from
on high to execute faithfully all of the divine purpose
for human restitution, and for the establishment of
universal harmony and peace. Praise the Lord for
such a prospect for both the Church and the world.
May its inspiration be felt by every devoted heart,
and its warning be heeded by every one who feels to
any degree inclined to be unstable. Take unto you
the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand
unshaken in the midst of the storms of this evil day,
and be counted worthy to be a living stone in that
glorious temple of God, now shortly to be filled with
his glory, and to be an heir of that kingdom which
cannot be moved, and which shall indeed be the
desire of all nations.
[R3053 : page 235]
"HE CARETH FOR YOU."
"Casting all your care upon him;
for he careth for you."--I Peter 5:7.
"What can it mean? Is it aught to him
That the nights are long and the days are dim?
Can he be touched by the griefs I bear,
Which sadden the heart and whiten the hair?
Around his throne are eternal calms,
And strong, glad music of happy psalms,
And bliss unruffled by any strife.
How can he care for my poor life?
"And yet I want him to care for me,
While I live in this world where the sorrows be;
When the lights die down on the path I take;
When strength is feeble, and friends forsake;
When love and music, that once did bless,
Have left me to silence and loneliness;
And life-song changes to sobbing prayers--
Then my heart cries out for a God who cares.
"When shadows hang o'er me the whole day long,
And my spirit is bowed with shame and wrong;
When I am not good, and the deeper shade
Of conscious sin makes my heart afraid;
And the busy world has too much to do
To stay in its course to help me through,
And I long for a Saviour--can it be
That the God of the universe cares for me?
"Oh wonderful story of deathless love!
Each child is dear to that heart above:
He fights for me when I can not fight;
He comforts me in the gloom of night;
He lifts the burden, for he is strong;
He stills the sigh, and awakens the song;
The sorrow that bowed me down he bears,
And loves and pardons, because he cares.
"Let all who are sad take heart again.
We are not alone in our hours of pain;
Our Father stoops from his throne above
To soothe and quiet us with his love.
He leaves us not when the storm is high,
And we have safety, for he is nigh.
Can that be trouble which he doth share?
Oh, rest in peace, for the Lord does care!"