Jesus Is the Desire of All Nations
O Lord God, my dear Heavenly Father, as I enter into Your presence to worship this morning on this last Sunday in Advent, fill my heart with Your peace. The world around me is filled with violence, hatred, and strife. It can be and is so unsettling. I need to find refuge in Your presence, so that I might be strong and prove faithful to You and to those whom I love. Be with and bless me this day. Amen.
Paul encourages us to pray for everyone, especially those in authority. He goes on to speak of God’s desire that all people be saved and come to know Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for all!
John identified Jesus as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” He further bore witness to the fact that the Holy Spirit had descended upon Jesus at the time of His baptism, identifying Him thereby as the Promised Savior!
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, who is the “Desire of All Nations,” dear fellow redeemed:
Civil war in Syria with the Christian population of that country often caught in the middle; prison work-camps in North Korea with professing Christians in that country most often being sentenced to serve there; austerity riots in Greece—the center of the Greek Orthodox segment of the external Christian Church; drug-related murders in Mexico—statistically among the most Roman Catholic of countries; theater and school massacres in the United States—without doubt the most religious of the developed nations and up until recently viewed primarily as a Christian nation…in the opinion of many if not most people it would seem that our world is no closer to realizing true peace—the promise of Christmas, than it was 2,000 years ago when the angelic choir sang over the fields of Bethlehem on the night of Jesus’ birth, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men” (Lk. 2:14). Consequently, most people view the peace promised by the angels as merely a potential peace, not real peace…a pipedream of some future peace possible only if people will change dramatically and begin to behave themselves. Furthermore, if asked whether or not Jesus has truly ushered in the peace that was promised at the time of His birth, most people would say, “No, it hasn’t happened. He quite obviously failed to keep that promise!” Therefore many people have turned away from Christ and the gospel message proclaimed in the Bible in order to search for peace in other places, by other means, and through other people. Yesterday, when I sat down to read the mail, I read a note from a dear friend in which she lamented that so many churches in her area were empty of all young people, because their lives had become too busy with other things. My dear friends—that is the case, for people are seeking peace elsewhere. What a mistake that is, for true and lasting peace can only be found in Jesus and through His gospel message of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation with God! Haggai, a little known Old Testament prophet, knew this and explains why to his generation when he claims that JESUS IS THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS! As such He came to the temple! As such He comes to give peace!
Haggai lived some 2,500 years ago in the 6th Century B.C. The prophetic words he recorded were given him by the Holy Spirit in 520 B.C. when he was a very old man. Haggai had been born very early in the 6th Century. He had seen the magnificence of Solomon’s temple before its destruction in 586 B.C. His book of prophecy was intended to inspire the children of Israel who had returned from captivity in Babylon to complete the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. For sixteen years the temple had remained unfinished because of political opposition and economic depression. The people were dispirited by their opposition and depressed by their few resources. They, too, felt the promises God had given them were not being fulfilled. Many of them were ready to give up. After all, those older men and women among them, who like Haggai could remember seeing Solomon’s temple, stated quite plainly that the temple being built was “as nothing” in their eyes (cf. Hag. 2:3). Many simply thought they did not have the strength or the resources to do justice to the job. There was no peace in the land, and they were struggling simply to survive politically and economically. That being the case, they asked “Why even bother with rebuilding the temple? Why bother being faithful to God?”
Haggai’s response was to point first to God’s power. Speaking for the LORD Haggai said: “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….” When the LORD says that He will “shake” the physical universe and all the nations contained therein, He is proclaiming His power and control over all things. Our God is omnipotent! By His very words He created everything in our universe, and by that same word He sustains it and maintains it. Listen to the apostle Peter who states: “By the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:5-7). Peter said that if you really wanted to realize how much God is in control think of Noah’s flood, which destroyed an entire prediluvian civilization in view of its wickedness. The apostle Paul further explains that the same God who created the physical universe is the God of all of history, for He determines the extent and course of nations. Listen to Paul's words, which shook up the proud Athenians as they listened to him preach on the Areopagus: “He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one bloodevery nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:25b-27). Peter and Paul affirm Haggai’s message that everything and everyone is subject to and dependent upon the power of God. Consequently, Haggai asserts that they will come to the Desire of All Nations…to Jesus at some point, either willingly or unwillingly, for either we acknowledge with joy the sovereignty of our God and Savior in life, or we will surely do so after death when we stand before His judgment throne. In other words,Haggai urged the people of his generation, even as He urges us never to despair in the face of current events, for God remains the ultimate power in this universe!
Haggai then points out that the people need not despair of their rebuilding efforts in view of the Promised Savior’s future, glorious presence! Haggai records the words of the LORD: “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.” Solomon’s temple was overlaid with gold and was equipped with vessels of both gold and silver. It was glorious to see, but it could not and would not compare with the glory of God’s own Son, who would enter the temple the people of Haggai’s day were building. Oh, the temple would be modified by King Herod in the years prior to Jesus’ ministry and would externally become quite magnificent, but it was the same basic building. Its true glory would not be found in its size or external beauty, but rather Jesus would bless its presence with His person and with His marvelous gospel message of repentance, faith, forgiveness, reconciliation with God, and the gift of life everlasting!
Yes, JESUS IS THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS! As such He came to the temple that was rebuilt in Haggai’s day. He shook things up—literally by driving the sellers of animals and changers of money out of the temple, while declaring it His Father’s house (cf. Mt. 21; Jn. 2) and spiritually by proclaiming His gospel of peace not among men, but rather between God and man. Jesus continues today to shake things up, for He continues to come to and abide in His temple—the bodies and minds of those who believe in Him. We believers all over the world are that temple. Peter calls us “living stones” and he identifies Jesus as the “chief cornerstone” (cf. 1 Pet. 2:4-7). Jesus comes into lives leading individuals to repent of their sins, to rejoice in His forgiving love, to become reconciled to their heavenly Father, and to live lives changed forever by His love. That is why JESUS truly IS THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS!
That is why Haggai goes on to say that He comes to give peace! Having described God’s power in the Person of Christ, Haggai now turns to God’s purpose in sending Jesus. He says: “‘In this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Jesus’ purpose is to provide the peace proclaimed by the angels on that first Christmas Eve. In order to understand, we must realize that we are not talking about a peace among nations or even necessarily a peace among men. That is a worldly peace, which Jesus clearly does not give. He told His apostles on Maundy Thursday night: “The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14:26-27). Peace in this world is passing, because such peace is built upon the fleeting desires of sinful men. It will inevitably pass and leave people empty and disappointed!
The peace that Jesus has come to give is that spiritual peace based upon His own redemptive work. It is a peace that arises when the barriers of sin are removed. Paul writes, “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). You and I cannot be at peace within our minds or hearts unless we have come to know and believe in Jesus Christ. He provides the righteousness we need to stand before God without fear. He removes the sins which stain our life-records and trouble our consciences. In Christ we have a peace with God that cannot ever be taken from us. It is a peace that as Paul describes to the Philippians “passes all understanding,” but which guards our hearts and minds”(Phil. 4:7). How wonderful is that peace—to know the love and acceptance of God and to be completely confident of our standing with Him here in time and hereafter in eternity. It is also that peace, which allows people being threatened or people impoverished, to remain at peace and to retain hope!
We currently have three members of Immanuel in hospice care. As I visit with them, it is my privilege to remind them and to assure them of the peace they possess through Jesus. Because of that peace they rest in the powerful, yet gentle arms of Jesus (cf. Is. 40:9-11). They can rest confident that Jesus is preparing a place for them in the heavenly mansions, and that He will return to take them to Himself in heaven (cf. Jn. 14:1-3).
That being said, the peace we enjoy with God is also a peace we are to extend to all those around us. We are to share with others the gospel of peace. Paul writes: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18). It may not always be possible to extend the peace within our hearts to all others, but never let it be said that you or I are the problem in this area. Let us set aside all selfishness, for God has promised to provide for us. Let us rather suffer loss, if necessary, to uphold the name of God and honor properly the love of God.
My dear friends, this is what Jesus came to do. He is the “Prince of Peace” foretold by Isaiah. He comes to give peace! In the world, there will be wars and rumors of wars until the end of time. Unfortunately, because of sin and man’s rebellion violence, murder, and evil of all kinds will persist until the end of time. That does not mean, however, that you and I cannot live with peace in our hearts and extend that peace to others. JESUS IS THE DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS! We desire Him and the peace He offers. May we cherish that peace, carry it within us, and as far as possible extend it to others this Christmas Season and throughout the coming years. Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting
Soli Gloria Deo!