Come, Desire of Nations, Come

Dr. Ray Pritchard
Dr. Ray Pritchard
2012 21 Dec

“I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come" (Haggai 2:7).

This fascinating verse apparently has a double meaning. It applies first to the rebuilding of the temple by Zerubbabel. In that sense God promises that the wealth of the nations will flow into the temple in Jerusalem. The rest of the verse promises that God will fill the rebuilt temple with his glory. 

Christians have traditionally seen in this verse a foreshadowing of the coming of Christ because Jesus in John 2:20-21 referred to his body as “this temple,” meaning that in his life, death and resurrection, he would fulfill what the temple pictured through its design, its priesthood, its furniture, and its sacrifices. Jesus is the ultimate “Desire of All Nations” and the radiance of God’s glory. What the temple pictured, Christ fulfilled.

But that’s not all. 

When the writer of Hebrews contemplated the coming end of the age, he quoted Haggai 2:6 and applied it to the coming of Christ:

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken-that is, created things-so that what cannot be shaken may remain (Hebrews 12:26-27).

That’s what God is doing in our day. He’s shaking the nations-literally!-so that the world will be ready for the coming of Christ. As Christ’s first advent happened “when the time had fully come” (Galatians 4:4), even so his return to the earth will occur when God has prepared everything just as he promised. 

Jesus is the only one who can fulfill the deepest desires of the human heart. As Pascal said, there is a God-shaped vacuum inside every person. If we do not fill the vacuum with God, we are bound to fill it with the spiritual junk food of this world, but in that case we will never be satisfied. 

The people of the world desire Christ even though they do not know it for he alone can meet their deepest needs. The familiar Christmas carol “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” contains a verse that mentions this name of Christ (and several others as well). Though rarely sung, it contains deep biblical truth:

Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conquering seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head. 

Adam’s likeness now efface,
Stamp thy image in its place.
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.

The nations will never live in peace until they know Jesus. Can we be at peace while they live without him?

Lord Jesus, while we wait for your return, help us to make you known in every nation. Amen.

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