The Desire of all Nations

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Friends, as we enter this advent and Christmas season, we’re going to be singing songs that often have just fantastic theology in them. And you see writers of carols who are inspired by God’s word. And one of the thoughts that you’re going to hear in some of the songs that you hear during the Christmas season has this idea of Jesus being the desire of all nations. Jesus is the desire of all nations. Well, what does that mean exactly, and how does it apply to us?

Why is it so important? I’ll remind you. This last Sunday we took a look at the minor Prophet Haggai, and in chapter two, it says this. In chapter two, verses six through nine, 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. There it is 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.

Whether you missed Sunday’s message and need to go back and know kind of what this passage is talking about, or if you were there and just need a gentle reminder, like we all do from time to time, let’s remember that the context of this passage in Haggai is after the Israelites have come back to Jerusalem from having been in exile, they are now in Jerusalem. They start rebuilding the temple that had been destroyed in 587 BC. And they just sort of stop in the middle of this project, and they stop for about 16 years. And so God sends the prophet Hagai to encourage them to finish the job.

And as they’re working on this, they’re getting discouraged because they realize that this rebuilt temple doesn’t look nearly as great as the former temple, Solomon’s temple does.

But in that passage that I just read, this is a reminder that actually the rebuilt temple is going to be even greater than Solomon’s temple. Yes, Solomon’s temple was overlaid in gold and had the Ark of the covenant and all those wonderful things. But this rebuilt temple is going to be even greater. Well, how so? Well, that passage has a couple different meanings to it.

One, it says that God is going to shake the nations. And so that idea is a coming day of judgment in which God will shake the current present order and will call the nations to account who reject him. There’s also the meaning, of course, that we see lived out actually in history where God is saying, the silver is mine, the gold is mine. And in shaking the nations at that particular time, God enabled the nations to actually help fund the rebuilding of this temple. And so God is providing for what the Israelites need.

But Jesus is actually the reason why this rebuilt temple is going to be greater than the former temple. Solomon’s temple was fantastic, but this rebuilt temple, we know looking ahead to the New Testament, is going to be even greater because of Jesus. He comes and lives among us as God. With us, Emmanuel, right? And he has come and he is now going to indwell his people.

We are his temple. Jesus doesn’t live in a building, he lives within his people. And that’s why the rebuilt temple, this rebuilt people of God, is going to be even greater than the former temple. But what does it mean that Jesus is the desire of all nations? Because if you think about it, in what sense do the nations actually desire Jesus?

I think we can look and say, actually don’t they actually reject Jesus if they desired Jesus? If he was the desire of all nations, that would be fantastic. Then the peace that God promises to bring would actually be fulfilled. So what’s up with this idea? I like how Charles Spurgeon, the old time pastor, used to talk about this.

He says the true desire of nations is Jesus, even if the nations themselves don’t yet know it. He says he is the one. Jesus is the one, the true reformer, the true rectifier of all wrong. And in this respect, he is the desire of all nations. We all want an incarnate God, Spurgeon says, and here you have got the incarnate God in Jesus, O nations.

But you know it, not. You in the dark are groping after him and you know not that he is there. It’s this idea that the nations do desire a redeemer. The nations do desire someone who will right wrongs and bring justice and bring peace. Everybody wants that, don’t they?

They just don’t realize that it came in the form of Jesus, but he is still the desire of all nations. They want something or someone to bring these things, but Jesus is the one who brought it. And so this ought to encourage us who follow Jesus in terms of showing God’s love to others and also specifically witnessing to them, telling them about Jesus being the way and the truth and the life. Because people need to understand that Jesus is the answer to all of the issues that we face in this world. Ultimately, he takes away the sting of death.

He takes away the sting of pain and evil. Yes, those things still exist, but they don’t sting us like they used to. Jesus is able to right the wrongs that we see in our nation. We know that one day he’s going to return again and bring this judgment against those who reject him. But we need to continue to point people to the fact that we have hope now.

We don’t have to wait till then to have hope. Jesus is the great desire of all nations, and he has come. And doesn’t that fit so well again with this season of advent? I mentioned how that idea of Jesus being the desire of all nations is in some of our most beloved Christmas songs. Think of that song, come thou long expected.

Jesus is saying, dear desire of every nation. There’s that line in that song or in heart, the herald angels sing. One of the verses says, come, desire of nations, come. And I love that again for us as a reminder, because it is an anticipatory and hopeful desire, a prayer to say, Jesus, come. We want him to come back.

We want him to come take us so that we can be with him. Yes, but we are also in this long line of people who desired the desire of all nations to actually come. And Jesus has come. So I hope that that encourages you this advent season as it does me. Let us pray.

Come, desire of nations, come and bring God’s peace. Thanks for joining us today. Bye.