The Day Has Come: For the Desire of All Nations Came!
O Lord God, as I leave the hustle and bustle, the glitter and the glamour of the world behind and enter into Your presence for worship this morning, help me to recognize that the most precious gifts I can ever receive flow from Your gospel and through Your hands. Fill my heart with true peace and joy today as I sing my praises to Jesus, Your Son and my Savior and King! Amen.
God’s desire for everyone is that they be saved! That salvation has been effected through our “Mediator” who is “the Man Christ Jesus!”
Many thought John the Baptizer might be the promised Christ, but he pointed ahead to another who was to come. That individual was Jesus!
Text: Haggai 2:6-9
“For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations,and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
In Christ Jesus, “the Desire of All Nations,” dear fellow redeemed:
The year was 520 B.C. The place was Jerusalem. Eighteen years had passed since the late King Cyrus of Persia had permitted the Jews to return from Babylon and begin to rebuild their lives in the land God had once promised them. They had returned with such fervor and with such high hopes. They had planned to rebuild the city and God’s temple, but things had gone seriously wrong. Their enemies—today we would call them terrorists—had threatened their lives, interrupted their work, and ended their attempts to rebuild the temple shortly after they had laid its foundation. For sixteen years the temple site had lay abandoned. The people had come to believe it was better that way. Their enemies at least seemed content to leave them alone, so they simply focused on their private lives. They built their own homes…many of them, indeed, had become rather fine homes. Yet, there was this sense of unease. Signs of past destruction remained all around them while any sense of real security evaded them. The Lord’s blessings simply seemed beyond anyone’s reach.
Yes, the year was 520 B.C. We are told as the book of Haggai begins: “In the second year of King Darius…the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel…governor of Judah, and to Joshua…the high priest, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built….” ‘Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?’ Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Consider your ways!’” (Hag. 1:1-5) Haggai went on to explain to the leaders and people that their general unease and their lack of blessings were in fact due to their lack of faith and their consequent spiritual inactivity. Haggai urged them to renew their faith in the living God and act boldly to move forward with the construction of the temple. The people responded by rolling up their sleeves and renewing their efforts with a rededicated spirit of service to their God.
However, their efforts were not undertaken without opposition from their enemies, and without some frustration, as those among them old enough to remember the glories of Solomon’s temple were moved to weep as they considered the rather humble results of all their efforts. Recognizing the problem, Haggai asked the obvious questions: “Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing?” (Hag. 2:3) But, Haggai, went on to encourage the people with the words of the prophecy we are considering this morning—a prophecy pointing ahead to the days when Messiah would come and His glorious appearing in their modest temple would eclipse any magnificence Solomon’s temple may have had by comparison.
My dear friends, are our lives in 2014 that much different than the lives of the people of Haggai’s day? Do we not live in a day in which we are threatened by terrorists? Have not many people been pressured by our secular society to privatize their spiritual lives—not speaking openly any longer about faith and biblical morality lest they be accused of being bigoted and intolerant? Do not millions of our fellow citizens live with a sense of unease economically, as it would appear that God has withdrawn His full blessing from our country? Let us consider today the words of Haggai’s prophecy, for from our perspective THE DAY HAS COME, FOR THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS CAME! And as we shall see, the nations have come to Him; He filled the temple with His glory; and He has given each of our hearts His peace!
Haggai wrote: “For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations.'” The people of Haggai’s day feared the nations that surrounded them. They were their enemies seeking to harm them. Consequently, they drew together and focused their attention upon preserving themselves as God’s special people. Indeed, they were God’s special people in Old Testament timesfor the very purpose of preserving the promise of the Savior for all people. Remember, God had told the patriarchs that in their seed “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (cf. Gen. 12:3; Gen. 28:14). Haggai reminded the people of their universal significance by referring to that promised Savior as “the Desire of All Nations.” He told them that the day would come when God would shake things up and people of every nation would come seeking their Savior!
That prophesy found its fulfillment initially shortly after Jesus was born when Matthew tells us that “wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.’” (Matt. 2:1-2) When the wise men finally found Him in Bethlehem, they bowed the knee before Him and showered Him with gifts! (cf. Mt. 2:11) Later during His ministry Gentiles came seeking Jesus—a centurion from Capernaum seeking help for his servant (cf. Mt. 8:5); a Syro-Phoenician woman requesting help for her daughter (cf. Mk. 7:26); a group of Greek converts to Judaism seeking simply to meet Jesus (cf. Jn. 12:20-21). It was after His death, resurrection, and ascension that Jesus’ Great Commission moved the early Christians to reach out and to “preach the gospel to every creature” (cf. Mk. 16:15), and it was that missionary movement that eventually led to the expansion of Christianity around the globe.
My dear friends, THE DAY HAS COME, FORTHE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS CAME and the nations have come to Him! We too can become internally focused—simply thinking about our congregation, our school, and our members. We are here to share a message with the world around us. We were reminded of that earlier this year when we were privileged to have Raju Bhitrakoti in our midst. He will return to Nepal next June to carry on with mission outreach in that land. Through his efforts and those of our brethren throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia the gospel is being preached, and people from every nation are being drawn to the Desire of All Nations. It is He and He alone who has the answers to the problems facing all of humanity, for all of those problems are the result of sin and the brokenness of our human hearts. Yes, THE DAY HAS COME, FORTHE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS CAME and the nations have come to Him!
We see, as well, that He filled the temple with His glory! The temple built after the Babylonian Captivity, even when modified extensively by Herod the Great, did not compare in splendor with Solomon’s temple. But Haggai assured his brethren that this made absolutely no difference in God’s eyes, for as the LORD had Haggai proclaim: “I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
Was Solomon’s temple glorious because of the gold and silver that adorned it, or because of the LORD who occupied it? All the gold and silver of the world belongs to God. He is not impressed with anything we might offer, apart from a humble and repentant heart. Remember the words of David, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise.” (Ps. 51:17) Consequently, when the virgin Mary together with Joseph brought the young Jesus into the temple at the time of Mary’s ceremonial cleansing, the glory of the Lord appeared in the midst of His people. Simeon recognized that fact when he took Jesus into his arms, raised him up and proclaimed: “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.” (Lk. 2:29-32)
Jesus would later return to that temple to preach and to teach within its walls (cf. Mk.12:35ff.). He would cleanse it by driving out the cattle and the sheep and overturning the money-changers’ tables (cf. Jn. 2:13-22). Upon His death the curtain within the temple would rip in half to symbolize the fact that Jesus had gloriously completed the sacrifice necessary to remove the barrier of sin and allow access for men to God (cf. Mt. 27:51). When God’s Old Testament people as a whole rejected Jesus as both Savior and Lord, even that lesser temple was ultimately destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. As Jesus once told the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth.” (Jn. 4:23) My dear friends, that DAY HAS COME, FORTHE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS CAME and He filled the temple with His glory! Consequently, Jesus fills any sanctuary with His glory wherever His people meet and His precious word is preached and our hearts are comforted.
Yes, THE DAY HAS COME, FORTHE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS CAME and He has given each of our hearts His peace! Haggai concluded his prophecy: “In this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.” “Consider your ways,” Haggai pleaded with the people of his day. They did, and they were blessed. They left behind the spiritual lethargy that had prevented their action for sixteen years. They rolled up their sleeves and began to build. As they built, they embraced the reality of God’s promises of a salvation to come.
My dear friends, it is easy to become spiritually lethargic—to relax with our spiritual eyes glazed over by the trials and troubles, or even just the monotony of everyday life. That is why it is important this Advent Season to return to and review the promises God has kept to us. It is important to listen to the angelic hymn once again: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Lk. 2:14) It is important to join the shepherds and kneel with them around the manger, for you see in the midst of all of the turmoil of that first century, they found peace as they gazed at the Son of God become man. We, too, need that peace, for in our 21st Century there is turmoil all around us. Yet Jesus comes—the Son of God made man, who lived and died in our place, to remove our sins, and to bestow upon us the blessings of forgiveness, life, and salvation, so that we might have peace with our God. When such peace reigns in your heart and within mine, then in all likelihood that peace will reign between us, and blessings will flow to all of the lives touching our own!
Those are gifts no one can take away from us. Economic hard times cannot strip away the certainty of salvation bought and paid for by Jesus, and bestowed upon us as a gift we do not deserve, we could not purchase, but which by the grace of God is ours personally and eternally!
“Consider your ways,” Haggai cried out to a people living in turmoil and lacking the blessing they most desired. There greatest need, as our own, has been met, FORTHE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS CAME and He has given each of our hearts His peace—a peace based upon His atoning work, which leaves us at peace with our God, and desirous to live at peace with one another. May it be so among us! Amen.