The Desire of All Nations
These words of the prophet Haggai were spoken to encourage Israel to rebuild the Temple, having now returned from the land of captivity. The prophecy is so worded that the casual reader might consider that the consequent rebuilding of the Temple was the fulfilment and end of the prophecy. However because the writer to the Hebrews quotes part of these words (Heb. 12. 26) and speaks of them as being still future, there must be a further fulfilment. And so it is necessary to look farther than Israel's local history for fulfilment; the wording speaks of the shaking (and therefore, removal, adds Paul) of the heavens, the earth, the sea, the dry land and ALL the nations. This is the day of God's judgment on the nations, the oft declared time of trouble on the whole world. But, as is often the case with the prophets, the words of calamity are immediately followed by tidings of joy, the desire of all nations shall come. The manifestation of Divine dealings, judgment followed by grace, is the main theme of the Bible so far as man is concerned. Good if all 'prophets' of judgment would likewise speak of the ensuing grace!
What is this 'desire of all nations' that follows the world-shaking? Various answers can be made to the question and each has its element of truth. It is conceivable that the desires of men and nations alter as the pages of history bring new visions and new needs to view. The Reformation brought a desire to be free of Papal oppression; and according to the slogan of the French Revolution, mankind in those days wanted "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity". These desires were but partly realised, possibly because the shaking of those days was more of man than of the Lord. Some will say that man's desire today is for peace. This is true enough, if peace is merely abstention from war. But not yet do they desire that peace which accrues from harmony with their Creator. That will be their desire after He has made wars to cease and the judgments of the Lord are in the earth. As they learn righteousness then they will desire true peace. These desires are all subsidiary to man's eternal desire for life. This desire, like the others, will only be attained by Divine intervention. God intervenes by shaking all nations, and then gives to man his desires, for it is by opening His hand that He satisfies the desire of every living thing.
But when national peace is achieved by the quelling of oppressors in the time of trouble, the restriction of Satan, and the establishment of the Kingdom by One who will take the kingdom and possess it for ever, then surely man's desire will change. National peace will give way to the desire for personal peace. Peace of body, of mind, of heart, or in one word — LIFE! And they will find that the one who gave them rest from war and strife will give them life. "Obey and live" will be the universal rule.
When man is enjoying the gifts of life then surely another desire will come into his heart. He will want to know more of Him who made peace and life possible, and we instantly think of the Messiah, who will be the desire of all nations. Rotherham's translation speaks of "delight of all nations". Do the Scriptures so portray our Lord? Once He had no beauty that they should desire him, but now all beauties that man can imagine are His. The word "beauty" is not full enough to describe the One who will be the desire of all nations.
The prophet Isaiah (9. 6-7) shows how He is man's desire and cause of adoration. See how in these words man's many desires are accomplished in one Person! WONDERFUL. A happening is wonderful when it causes man to wonder how it occurred, or is miraculous, or because it transcends man's own imaginings. A thing is wonderful when it is the only one of its kind. The idea in the Hebrew is "singular". Using the word in this true sense it can be said that He stands alone and above all others. The fifth chapter of Revelation shows Him to be wonderful because He is exceptional, and the chapter closes with universal adoration of this desire of all nations. He alone could die, the just for the unjust, and He alone can extricate man from his troubles. When the Revelator looked to see the Lion of Judah who had prevailed to open the book, he saw the Lamb, which is certainly singular and wonderful. The Strong One is found to be Him who dies as the Lamb.
COUNSELLOR. Man has had many counsellors who dispense advice, but are incapable of dispensing the real need. This "desire of man" is a counsellor in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge coupled with the power of an endless life. One only can combine this work of prophet and priest.
THE MIGHTY GOD. Here the word is "elohim", used of one wielding power. The word mighty is "gibbor"; it also has the sense of power and is rendered "champion". It refers to the One who is properly known as man's powerful champion.
THE EVERLASTING FATHER. One of man's many desires, life, is met by Him who has abolished death and brought life to light through the Gospel.
THE PRINCE OF PEACE. It has been well said that man now desires peace, but not the Prince of Peace. When man enjoys that peace which will arise from the righteous rule of the Prince (Isaiah 32. 17), they will then desire to know of Him who has so blessed them.
The next verse of the prophet Isaiah (ch. 9.7) details some of the glories of that righteous kingdom. Once established the kingdom, will never end. It is dominated by the throne of David that was at Jerusalem. There will thus be a visible world centre for man to desire and delight in. And so, in this One Person man's best desires are all met. Are these the final desires of nations? Will they not desire one thing more? Surely by the time the kingdom has settled down, the whole earth is at rest and is quiet, one more desire will arise in the hearts of men. They will surely desire to honour the Father even as they honour the Son, for (says Isaiah 9.7) it is the zeal of the Lord of Hosts that has made this great kingdom possible. Nothing would ever have been fulfilled unless God himself had planned it all. Man's final desire will be to "know thee, the holy true God" and thus have the full blessing of eternal life (John 17. 2-3).
And he will be quite ready for the day, at the end of the reign of Christ, that the kingdom is delivered up to the Father, that God may be all in all.