Friday, April 15, 2016

desire of all nations

Haggai 1:3 - 11

Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”

Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”

Chapter 2:1 - 9

 on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jozadak,[a] the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
In our passage, the prophet Haggai is calling the Jews to come return to their spiritual heritage. They would have to leave their comfortable lives and face opposition as they worked to restore their place of worship. It was a physical enactment of a very common spiritual happening. And right in the middle of this call to return to God, we find this title, “Desire of All Nations.” It speaks of all good things – good that comes to people of all nations who turn their hearts to receive Jesus.
At the beginning of his prophecy, Haggai tells the Israelites, “You work for your own wealth and comfort, but have nothing to show for it.” How this could be said of the nations today! – whose majority work and struggle, but it is the top 1% who reap the wealth.
Haggai reminds them to “come work for what is truly important. This is not a time for you to dwell in paneled houses, while God’s house lies in ruins.” This is where it gets personal for me…How much time and effort go into my physical pursuits, while my spiritual health suffers?
“Work!” Haggai tells them, and reminds them of their covenant after God brought them out of Egypt. It was a promise that God would be with them – the promise of His presence. And now they had neglected the place of His presence. Where is the symbolic place for the presence of God in your life? For me it is an early morning quiet. A cup of tea with the God of the universe. You’d think this wouldn’t be an easy thing to neglect. But physical comforts are compelling in the early morning. I can relate all too well to these Jewish Exiles.
Then, through Haggai, God tells them, “I will shake all nations, so the desire of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory.” And, yes, the desire of all people, of all time and place, would come – born of a virgin, wrapped in swaddling cloth; born to redeem all people of every nation, every tongue.
But also, the desire or treasures of every nation would come into this new temple – the temple that is Jesus’ body – the body of Christ. Jesus said, in John 2, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” And so he did, bringing into the temple treasures of all the nations. We are those treasures that God has brought into His temple through the shaking of heaven and earth.
Revelation 7:9 reads: “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Have you ever imagined what it will be like? To worship as one with all of the beautiful cultural gifts of the nations? I have an Irish heritage and, even though we didn’t listen to Celtic music when I was a child, or explore Irish culture at all, there is a part of me that thrills at the sound of traditional Irish music. It is part of who I am. I can’t wait to join in worship with the rhythms of the redeemed from Botswana, or the throat singing of the Mongolian mountain people. The musical gifts represented by every nation, every tongue, every tribe, are ancient gifts given by the Creator. They speak to our soul on a level we can’t yet articulate. But in Heaven, we will join the everlasting song in praise to the Lamb who was slain. It is a song that has been in our hearts, thrumming through the universe itself before the foundation of the world.