We invite you to return every day during Advent for this devotional series
Listen to today’s accompanying audio track:
Thus Saith The Lord of Hosts
“Thus saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts: Yet once a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. And I will shake all nations; and the desire of all nations shall come.”
Charles Wesley’s hymn, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, is one of the favorite songs of Advent and Christmas. This familiar carol ends with the impassioned prayer: “Come Desire of nations, come! Fix in us Thy humble home.”
We do not often think of Messiah Jesus as “The desire of all nations.” What the nations do not yet know, the prophet Haggai declares in today’s text. But in these words the prophet looks far beyond Messiah’s first coming as Bethlehem’s babe, to see His second coming. It is then that all people will know Him as the ‘desire’ of all nations.
This “word of the Lord” came to the prophet Haggai around 520 B.C. as God revealed how “the desire of all nations shall come” and shake all things. When Messiah comes again to our world, He will not leave things the way He found them. Nothing will remain untouched.
God once shook the earth when He came down on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:16-20). Many of the psalms remember Him as shaking the world: “The earth shook, the heaven also dropped at the presence of God; even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel” (Psalm 68:8). But now Haggai, is given a vision of how God will shake the heavens and the earth at Messiah’s coming (Isaiah 2:12-21; 13:13; Ezekiel 38:20; Amos 8:8; Joel 3:16; Matthew 24:29-30). Messiah will come again to shake all things, overthrowing all worldly powers and kingdoms (Zechariah 14:1-4). This will be the beginning of Messiah’s rule (Isaiah 13:13; 24:18-23; Joel 3:15-21).
Messiah’s coming will bring a Kingdom which will endure forever. The New Testament book of Hebrews foretells God’s final shaking out of our world:
“Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven…Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12, 26,28).
This Advent season we see the world in turmoil, and nation rising against nation. Our world cries out for peace while false prophets promise “’Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). But one day the nations of the world will behold the “desire of all nations”. Messiah brings His “Kingdom which cannot be moved”.
Because we know that Messiah will come again and shake all things, the Apostle Peter challenges: “Seeing then that all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be?”(II Peter 3:11).
Today’s solo is in stark contrast to yesterday’s chorus rejoicing in the glory of God revealed. The solo thunders: “Thus saith the Lord”.
The music line trembles at the word “shakes”. Notice here again Handel’s “tone painting” as the music mimics the text. The music “shakes”, rising up to the heavens, and “shakes” again reaching down to earth. Listen as the music rises high to the “heavens” then descends to the “earth”.
Calvin Stapert notes that Handel uses the Baroque style of stile concitato, or “agitated style”, rapidly repeated notes to express agitation or anger. The music rattles with a tsunami of sixteenth notes as Messiah comes to execute justice on the earth.
The rapid, agitated music slows as the music line rises to warmly announce that the “desire of the nations comes”.
- What do you sense that God might be saying to you in today’s Scripture text and music from Messiah?
- What do you want to say to God?
- Now take a few moments to be still in God’s presence.