Haggai: The Desire of All Nations
“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. God promises the wealth of the nations will flow into the temple in Jerusalem. The rest of the verse promises God will fill the rebuilt temple with his glory.
Christians have traditionally seen in this verse a foreshadowing of the coming of Christ. In John 2:20-21 Jesus 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 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 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.
Sometimes God puts us in difficult places so we will turn to Jesus. We received a letter from a prisoner who happened to read my book An Anchor for the Soul while he was in solitary confinement. Here’s what happened next:
I got into a fight and went into the hole (solitary confinement). So I was trading my food trays for envelopes (a kind of money in jail) and I wound up trading a food tray for a book to read. It’s something to do because you’re not allowed out of your cell. I looked at the book and thought, Ah, a religious book, I got ripped off. Cuz I never believed in God. I was baptized but I was a baby and it was not by choice. I decided to read the first little bit to see if I’d like it. Once I read that first prayer and everything before it, it touched me and I flew through the book. You covered every aspect I ever thought about. Thanks to you, I’ve found God. You’re right, once you’ve hit rock bottom, you can only look up.
People need Jesus but they don’t know it.
People desire Jesus but they don’t realize it.
Jesus’ appeal is always personal. He never says, “Come and join the church” or “Come and be baptized” or “Come and give money.” He simply says, “Come to me.”
If you are weary, come and find rest.
If you are guilty, come and be forgiven.
If you are far from God, come back home again.
Lord Jesus, when will we ever learn that nothing in this world can ever fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts? Only you can satisfy. Empty us, O Lord, so that you can fill us with yourself. Amen.
Musical bonus: The phrase “Desire of Nations” doesn’t appear in many hymns, but Charles Wesley included it in the well-known Advent carol “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” You’ll hear it in this beautiful rendition by Fernando Ortega.