The Desire of All Nations Shall Come

“I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.” —Haggai 2:7

THE most universal desire of all people is peace and, of course, the freedom and happiness that is associated with peace. Harmony between nations depends upon the willingness of governments to negotiate, and even compromise, some of their own interests in order to maintain peace. The idea of a union of sovereign states is one means that has been promoted in the past in an attempt to preserve the peace. It was propounded during the Middle Ages by such men as Pierre Dubois and Emeric Cruc’e. There was the Grand Design of King Henry IV of France, and the Quadruple Alliance of the great powers of Europe associated with the Holy Alliance initiated by Czar Alexander I of Russia. All of these efforts failed to accomplish their main objective, which was to guarantee peace.

The Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907 were initiated by Czar Nicholas II for the purpose of facilitating the investigation and arbitration of international disputes, to promote disarmament, and to codify international law. The League of Nations was established by the peace treaties ending World War I and was in existence from 1920 to 1946. The primary objective was the prevention of future wars by putting teeth in the Hague system. The League of Nations, like its predecessors, failed miserably in its main objective which was to secure peace for the world.

The United Nations came into being on October 24, 1945. Its purpose is beautifully expressed in the preamble of the charter: “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, and for these ends: to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples.” (The Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. 27, page 301) These are noble sentiments and reflect the heart’s desire of many people for peace, happiness and justice in the world. What has happened that these lofty objectives have never been realized?

Historically we find that any joint effort among nations to control the activity of any one or more members of the group is unsuccessful because of an underlying fundamental characteristic of both men and nations—self interest. In harmony with this, many observers believe that the reason for the monumental failure of the United Nations is its transformation over the years into a body dominated by an alliance of dictatorships and totalitarian regimes that have very little respect for the purposes and principles of the charter, and for the rules of international law, whenever these interfere with their own selfish purposes. This is true also of the democratic members of the body, but to a lesser extent, especially when expressed as a unified alliance. The New York Times of August 25, 1982 carried an article by Bernard D. Nossiter entitled “U.N., Image of Futility,” which states, “Since June 5, on the eve of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the council has formally and repeatedly recognized the threat to peace, but it has been thwarted every time it tried to do something about it. … As many other countries have done, Israel ignored the council’s demands, … there was no offstage echo on the ground in Lebanon, Israel, or the other Middle East countries involved in practical diplomacy.” The Wall Street Journal of June 7, 1982 in an editorial entitled “U.N. Hypocrisy on Disarmament” states, “The United Nations Special Session on Disarmament, which opens in New York today, is shaping up as a hypocrisy monumental even by U.N. standards. The U.N. has been conducting an official investigation of violations of the most prominent disarmament treaty negotiated under its auspices, the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972. Despite considerable effort to look the other way, the investigators did accumulate an impressive amount of testimony. Now their latest report is being suppressed [because of the power of the accused nation] while delegates give lofty speeches about disarmament.”

In a subsequent editorial in The New York Times, the editor commented on a statement by the Secretary General to the effect that the nations are not united. The Secretary stated that the weak may complain, but those who feel strong, large or small, routinely ignore or defy the U.N.’s machinery for reconciliation. “We are perilously near to a new international anarchy.” In commenting on this statement, the editorial continued, “The U.N.’s main problem is not disunity, a chronic human condition. The problem is that the assembly of nations called ‘sovereign’ are subject to no higher authority, and can never be more than the sum of its members. Nations can behave inside the U.N. only as they behave outside—they insist on the right to redress grievance by force. … The Secretary General is to be commended for pricking the pretenses in his glass house. But he should always begin with the recognition that he presides over the shrine of nationalism, the very root of the condition he deplores.”—N.Y. Times, 9/11/82

As Christians we cannot help but admire the sincere efforts of some men who so desire peace for the world and governments that will govern with justice, that they are willing to try to do something about it. But history has certainly demonstrated that man’s efforts to accomplish this desirable end will fail as long as man himself is motivated by selfishness and greed. It has been said that old-fashioned patriotism is surely an obstacle to world government and peace. This is obviously true because national patriotism is a reflection of mass values, interests, and objectives. Anything that interferes or threatens this state of things will be opposed, even with war if necessary. This condition will not be altered until man himself is changed.

God has promised to provide a solution to man’s dilemma as shown in the prophecy that includes our theme text. It reads in its entirety as follows: “For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come [the delight of all nations shall come in—Rotherham]: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. … The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Hag. 2:6-9) This text is quoted by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 12:26-28, where he relates the shaking to the time of trouble just preceding the establishment of the better house—and the peace that results—the kingdom. “Whose voice then shook the earth [at Mount Sinai] but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” The desire of all nations which shall come is, we believe, related to the manifestation of Christ and his church through the kingdom that will bring peace and blessings to the world.—Rom. 8:19-22

Another beautiful prophecy that tells of the kingdom states: “The mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths … and he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.”—Mic. 4:1-4

Some of the language of this prophecy is highly pictorial, but the essence of it’s meaning is clear. God is going to set up a kingdom to be established above all the other kingdoms of the earth. The work of this kingdom will be to teach the world God’s laws, and in conjunction with this, they will learn to practice the principles of these laws in their lives. One of the great benefits to the world will be that they will no longer learn war and will enjoy peace and safety. But more than this, those who are obedient will earn everlasting life. Another prophecy that establishes the conditions under which the kingdom will operate is in Jeremiah 31:31-34, and is quoted by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 8:8-12. Verse ten of this prophecy reads, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.”

In order for this prophecy, as well as every other prophecy concerning the kingdom, to have any meaning at all, there must be a resurrection of the dead, for there are millions of people both good and bad who have lived and died without having had an opportunity to know the only name under heaven whereby men may be saved. (Acts 4:12) The doctrine of the resurrection of the dead is the central theme of the Bible, being a prominent teaching in both the Old and New Testaments. (Please see Matthew 22:31,32; Daniel 12:2; Hosea 13:14; Ezekiel 37:12; I Corinthians 15:12-58.) Jesus tells us that the “hour is coming, in the which, all that are in their tombs will hear his voice, and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28,29, RSV) The word ‘judgment’ (Greek—krisis) as used here, carries the thought of a process—that is, a trial, and then a decision. For example, the Prophet Isaiah states, “When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (Isa. 26:9) In the Hebrew, the thought of the word ‘judgments’ is ‘to govern’. The Apostle Peter, speaking of this time, said, “He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you; whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, a prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul [being] which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.”—Acts 3:20-23

Restitution means ‘to restore’, and that which will be restored is the original condition of perfection, life, and dominion that was enjoyed by Adam in the Garden of Eden. This process of restoring man to perfection is the work of the kingdom. The apostle tells us that when the proper time comes, the Lord will establish his kingdom here on the earth and the people will be required to hear that prophet. That is, they will be instructed and expected to respond. How do the Scriptures indicate this work will be accomplished? We believe they imply that the kingdom government will be the reality of the pattern that was originally used when God began to deal with the nation of Israel. This form of government is called a theocracy, which means that God is the head of such a government, and the administration of its affairs is accomplished through earthly representatives. For example, we read, “When the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them [the people] out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge.” (Judg. 2:18) Then speaking of the kingdom, the Lord, through the Prophet Isaiah said, “I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin, and I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counselors as at the beginning. Afterward thou shalt be called, the city of righteousness, the faithful city.” (Isa. 1:25,26; Ps. 45:16) The thought seems to be that these faithful servants of old will be resurrected as perfect men, as their minds and hearts have already been proven faithful (Heb. 11:39,40), and they will be the earthly representation of the kingdom.

Why is it necessary for the Lord to purge away the dross from the people? Did not Jesus die as a ransom for every man? The Scriptures seem to indicate that all people will come back in the resurrection with the same mind with which they went down into the grave. This means that all propensities for sin, pride, selfishness, and the evil tendencies of this world, will be a part of every man’s character in the beginning of his experience in the kingdom. These things must be erased from the mind, as well as the desire to do them. This is what the Lord meant when he said, “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.” (Heb. 8:10) The Jews had endeavored to do this in their own strength during the Jewish Age, but were unable to accomplish their desire, because of the weakness of the flesh. (Rom. 8:3) The Apostle Paul said, “If that first covenant had been faultless then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days, come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” (Heb. 8:7,8) The thought is that there was nothing wrong with the covenant, but rather with the imperfections of the people who were asked to obey it.

But, in the kingdom, which will operate under the New Covenant, the circumstances will be entirely different. The new arrangement will be better in that it will provide for the training and uplifting of the world of mankind under the supervision of the Mediator—Christ and his church. They will all be made aware of God’s laws and instructed in obedience to them. They will be assisted in a very wonderful way in their understanding and appreciation of the ways of the kingdom, by the fact that God has promised to pour out his Spirit upon all people. In the past, the Lord has put his Spirit within certain of his servants to give them understanding and the ability to perform the task that he had for them to do. One of these instances was Bezaleel who, because God’s Spirit was upon him, was able to produce the intricate design and follow the meticulous instructions in building the Tabernacle. (Exod. 31:1-5) This same enlightenment of mind and the ability to perform will be given to the world in the kingdom, bringing to pass a gradual reformation of the hearts of the people. One of the beautiful texts concerning this aspect of the kingdom is, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”—Ezek. 36:26,27

Another great advantage in the kingdom will be the fact that Satan will be bound. Since Adam transgressed in the Garden of Eden, Satan has had a free hand in the earth. God has restrained him only to the extent that his actions cannot conflict with the overall plan of salvation. (Ps. 76:10) All of man’s actions, his thoughts and his institutions, have been generated under Satan’s influence. This does not mean that there is no good in the earth, but it does mean that Satan is the god of this world and that his tools of selfishness, greed, and pride have done their work in man and all of his arrangements. But in the kingdom, Christ and his church will sit upon the throne of glory and there will be no competition from Satan. “I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more.”—Rev. 20:1-3

There are many beautiful illustrations in the Bible showing how the kingdom will operate. One of these is found in Isaiah chapter thirty-five. The fifth verse reads, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.” We know that a portion of the kingdom blessings will be that physical ailments will be cured and that none will be handicapped in either a physical or mental way. But here, we believe, the prophet is using symbolic language to picture the fact that the veil of darkness which has been cast over all people will be removed, and for the first time they will be able to discern that God is a God of righteousness and love. Understanding this, the world of mankind will desire to walk in his paths. The words of Jesus, though used in another context, would also apply in the kingdom. “Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears for they hear.” (Matt. 13:16) It is the knowledge of God, of his plans and purposes, and of his requirements, that will enable mankind to be restored to perfection in the kingdom.

The prophet continues his pictorial description of the kingdom in Isaiah 35:8,9. “And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those; the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there.” The highway seems to represent all of the provisions the Lord will provide to make the writing of his laws in the hearts of the people the most desirable and logical way to follow. In fact it will really be the only way that will be open. Those who may be of a rebellious nature and choose not to walk upon this way will be destroyed from among the people. (Acts 3:23) But the vast majority who will gladly traverse this way will find the pathway smooth, with no stones of stumbling in the way. Very often Satan is described as a roaring lion (I Pet. 5:8), going about seeking whom he may destroy. But the prophet states that there will be no lions on that highway. The prophet continues, stating that the unclean shall not pass over the highway, but it shall be for them. The thought seems to be that no one in the kingdom, with the probable exception of the faithful ancient prophets, will be resurrected in perfection of character—that all will have the stain of Adamic transgression, and it will be necessary for each human being to attain to righteousness and justification in the appointed manner. The blood of Christ, when applied on behalf of mankind, guarantees that all will be resurrected from the dead and cleansed from past sins (Heb. 8:12), but their attaining to life and perfection depends upon their obedience to God’s laws and their acceptance of them in their hearts. The gracious provision of a better mediator, Christ and his church, during the kingdom guarantees that every man will have a full and equitable opportunity for life under favorable circumstances.

When the work of the kingdom is finished, the nations of earth will be united under one head, God. And unlike the previous efforts of man to unite in order to provide peace, which efforts were thwarted because of pride and selfishness, the kingdom will have erased from the minds of the people all such traces of Adamic condemnation. God’s law, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” will have been written into the hearts of the people. Selfishness and self interests will not be known and therefore will never be expressed as nationalism. The beautiful scripture in Revelation 21:3-5 describes the wonderful condition the world so longs for now, and which will soon be a reality, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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