Rev. Miersma, is pastor of the Loveland Protestant Reformed Church in Loveland, Colorado.
“…fear ye not. 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: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.”
We live in days when the nations of the earth are very unstable. There are wars and rumors of wars. The recession in the United States affects all the nations on the earth. The crash of the twin towers of the World Trade Center was heard from one end of the earth to the other. The effect of terrorism is global.
In the midst of all this turmoil and unrest is the church of Jesus Christ. Small as she is, one would be inclined to think that she should be filled with fear. Yet our text tells us to “Fear not.” It is revealing to us the certain triumph of the church from the viewpoint of the Old Testament. One certainly remembers the little stone in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, a stone that was cut out of a mountain without hands and that rolled down the mountain and destroyed the image in the king’s dream, an image that represented the kingdoms of this earth. Then the stone that smashed the image became a mountain that filled the whole earth.
This is a picture of Christ as He will destroy the kingdoms of the earth and establish a new heavens and a new earth. This glorious kingdom, which is also the church, has been designed by God in every detail and is realized according to that detail in every part. For God has the plan of His new Jerusalem engraved upon the palms of His hands, the very hands wherewith He works all things. So He has always before His eyes that which He promises to do for His church. He is with that church in His grace, from her very beginning in Paradise and into the everlasting glory of the everlasting kingdom. He goes before her and conquers all her enemies and never fails or forsakes her. To that church Jehovah comes today with the words of our text.
There will be a shaking of the universe. This has happened before. There was a tremendous upheaval at the time of the flood, when the windows of heaven were opened and the fountains of the deep were broken up. The Lord tells us in Hebrews 12:26that He will do it again. “Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.”
This last shaking refers to the end of time, when all present things shall be shaken out of their present form and into the form of that which God has engraved upon the palms of His hands. That means that both the heavens and the earth shall be shaken, with the purpose that they may become one. This also is according to Scripture, for we read in Revelation 21:1, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” The sea is that which separates. The idea is that there will no longer be any separation between heaven and earth as there is now. The shaking of the universe shall serve the realization of God’s kingdom by the removal of all things in their present form. “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” (Heb. 12:27).
In addition, there will be a shaking of the nations. Historically these nations came into being at the time of the tower of Babel. God formed them and scattered them over all the earth. Ever since, they have been trying to heal that wound, with kingdom rising upon kingdom and nation upon nation. As a result, many kingdoms have been shaken out of existence.
The final realization of this will take place when all nations shall be shaken off the earth and into hell. In reality, there are only two kingdoms, the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light. All nations as they stand apart from the church of Christ are of the kingdom of darkness. Over this world Satan rules as prince.
They shall be shaken out. As in the case with the flood, all the ungodly were shaken into hell, swept into the fire of the wrath of God by the waters of the flood. There was also a shaking at Mt. Sinai, with the solemn reminder, “Who can stand before God?” And again in Hebrews 12, which concludes with the words, “For our God is a consuming fire.” The idea is twofold: the nations are removed from off the earth so that the meek may inherit the new earth, and they are shaken into everlasting torment of hell for their rebellion against God and His church. That little stone cut out of the mountain without hands will fill the whole earth, and all the ungodly nations will be removed. The purpose of the Lord in this is that His church may be filled. That, in the first place, refers to the church that had returned from the captivity. On their return they found Jerusalem a pile of rubble and the house of God in ruin. With great trouble they rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, but were very slow in rebuilding the temple. They had made for themselves beautiful and comfortable homes, but no one seemed interested in restoring the house of God.
God then sent unto them the prophet Haggai with admonishing words and encouragement. “Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the Lord, and work: for I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts” (v. 4). Then follow the words of our text in which God says that He will fill His house with glory. The shaking of the universe and of the nations will serve that wonderful purpose that God’s church shall be filled with glory and attain to all the wonder of His covenant promises. In verse 5 we read, “According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.”
But the text also points to the completion of the house of God in the day of Christ. God’s church is His temple, the house in which He dwells. This includes the whole of God’s elect, both Jews and Gentiles. Revelation 5:9 makes that very clear: “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” The same truth is presented to us inRevelation 21:22, 24: “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it…. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it.” The nations walk in the light of the new Jerusalem and are that people with whom God lives. It is that temple that God has in mind when He says that He will fill His house with glory.
The glory is that “the desire of all nations shall come.” When all the work of God is finished, when the church appears as He has engraved her upon the palms of His hands, there will be people from all nations in the new Jerusalem. The nations shall bring their glory and honor as literally stated inRevelation 21 (above quoted). The silver and gold of Haggai 2:8 represent the precious souls of God’s saints. Thus, the “latter house” (Hag. 2:8) will be far more beautiful than the house that Solomon built. Solomon’s temple was made of earthly material. God’s temple is the living, vibrant temple of the bodies and spirits of the redeemed. It is a people with whom God lives in covenant fellowship. Through the removal of this present heaven and earth, God’s people shall be brought into a richer and more intimate fellowship of everlasting life before His face.
Therefore, “fear not.” Do not fear when earthquakes happen in divers places, when there are wars and rumors of wars, when there are terrorist attacks, or when you see the other signs in the universe. All are evidence of the truth of God’s Word and give assurance that God’s church shall triumph.
We must remember that God does not suddenly realize that church or her glory. Having engraved the church in the palms of the hands wherewith He does all His work, God is continually realizing that church and her glory. Therefore, when finally this shaking of heaven, earth, and nations takes place in the day of Christ, that church comes forth as a finished product. Fear not when through the shaking the scaffolding begins to fall away. It must fall away, in order that the church may stand alone in all her beauty and glory.
Look at the church with the eye of faith and rejoice when the scaffolding begins to be torn away. Look, then, with uplifted heads for Christ to bring His church into the indescribable glory of His everlasting kingdom.