STUDY ARTICLE 37
“I Will Shake All the Nations”
“I will shake all the nations, and the precious things of all the nations will come in.”—HAG. 2:7.
SONG 24 Come to Jehovah’s Mountain
1-2. What symbolic shaking was foretold for our time?
“WITHIN minutes, the shops and old buildings started falling like a pack of cards.” “There was panic everywhere . . . A lot of people said it lasted for about two minutes. To me, it seemed like forever.” Those are the comments of some who survived an earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015. If you were to experience such a traumatic event, you would not easily forget it.
2 We are, however, at this very moment experiencing a different kind of shaking, a shaking that does not involve a single city or country. Rather, it involves all the nations, and it has been going on for decades. This shaking was foretold by the prophet Haggai. He wrote: “This is what Jehovah of armies says, ‘Yet once more—in a little while—and I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land.’”—Hag. 2:6.
3. How is this symbolic shaking unlike any literal earthquake?
3 The shaking that Haggai describes is not like a literal earthquake, which brings only destruction. Instead, it produces good results. Jehovah himself tells us: “I will shake all the nations, and the precious things of all the nations will come in; and I will fill this house with glory.” (Hag. 2:7) What did this prophecy mean for those who lived in Haggai’s time? And what does it mean for us today? We will discuss the answers to those questions and also learn how we have a part in shaking the nations today.
AN ENCOURAGING MESSAGE IN HAGGAI’S DAY
4. Why did Jehovah send the prophet Haggai to His people?
4 The prophet Haggai received an important commission from Jehovah. Consider the background. Haggai had likely been among those who in 537 B.C.E. returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon. Soon after they arrived at their destination, those faithful worshippers laid the foundation of Jehovah’s house, or temple. (Ezra 3:8, 10) But before long, a sad situation developed. They got discouraged and stopped working on the project because of opposition. (Ezra 4:4; Hag. 1:1, 2) So in 520 B.C.E., Jehovah commissioned Haggai to rekindle their zeal and motivate them to complete the temple.b—Ezra 6:14, 15.
5. Why must Haggai’s message have been reassuring to God’s people?
5 Haggai’s message was designed to build faith in Jehovah. The prophet boldly conveyed these words to the downhearted Jews: “‘Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares Jehovah, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares Jehovah of armies.” (Hag. 2:4) The expression “Jehovah of armies” must have been reassuring. Jehovah has a vast army of angelic warriors under his command, so the Jews needed to rely on him to succeed.
6. What would result from the shaking that Haggai foretold?
6 Jehovah inspired Haggai to deliver a message that described a symbolic shaking of all the nations. This revelation reassured those disheartened temple builders that Jehovah was going to shake up Persia, the world power that encompassed many nations of that day. And what would result from that shaking? First, God’s people would finish the construction of the temple. Then, even non-Jews would join them in worshipping Jehovah at that restored temple. What an encouraging message that must have been for God’s people!—Zech. 8:9.
AN EARTHSHAKING WORK TODAY
7. What shaking work are we involved in today? Explain.
7 What does Haggai’s prophecy mean for us today? Once again Jehovah is shaking all the nations, and this time we are involved. Consider this fact: In 1914, Jehovah installed Jesus Christ as King of His heavenly Kingdom. (Ps. 2:6) The establishment of that Kingdom was bad news for world leaders. It meant that “the appointed times of the nations”—the period during which there was no ruler directly representing Jehovah—had been fulfilled, or had come to an end. (Luke 21:24) In recognition of that fact, particularly since 1919, Jehovah’s people have been pointing to God’s Kingdom as the only hope for mankind. This preaching of the “good news of the Kingdom” has shaken the whole world.—Matt. 24:14.
8. According to Psalm 2:1-3, how have the majority of the nations reacted to this message?
8 How have people reacted to this message? Most have reacted negatively. (Read Psalm 2:1-3.) The nations have become agitated. They refuse to accept Jehovah’s appointed Ruler. They do not view the Kingdom message we preach as “good news.” In fact, some governments have even banned the preaching work! Even though many of the rulers of these nations claim to serve God, they do not want to give up their own power and authority. So just as the rulers did in Jesus’ day, rulers today oppose Jehovah’s Anointed One by attacking his loyal followers.—Acts 4:25-28.
9. How does Jehovah respond to the negative reaction of the nations?
9 How does Jehovah respond to the negative reaction of the nations? Psalm 2:10-12 answers: “So now, you kings, show insight; accept correction, you judges of the earth. Serve Jehovah with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Honor the son, or God will become indignant and you will perish from the way, for His anger flares up quickly. Happy are all those taking refuge in Him.” Jehovah kindly grants these opposers a window of opportunity. They can still change their minds and accept Jehovah’s Kingdom. However, time is running out. We are living in “the last days” of this system of things. (2 Tim. 3:1; Isa. 61:2) It has never been more urgent for people to get the facts and make the right choice.
A POSITIVE REACTION TO THE SHAKING
10. What positive reaction to the shaking work is described at Haggai 2:7-9?
10 The figurative shaking that Haggai foretold has a positive effect on some people. He tells us that as a result of the shaking, “the precious things [honesthearted people] of all the nations will come” to worship Jehovah.c (Read Haggai 2:7-9.) Isaiah as well as Micah foretold similar developments that would occur “in the last days.”—Isa. 2:2-4, ftn.; Mic. 4:1, 2, ftn.
11. How did one brother react to the Kingdom message when he first heard it?
11 Consider the effect that the earthshaking message had on a brother named Ken, who serves at world headquarters. He still vividly remembers when he first heard the Kingdom message some 40 years ago. Ken says: “When I first heard the truth from God’s Word, I was grateful to learn that we are living in the last days of this system of things. I saw that in order to win God’s approval and gain everlasting life, I had to escape from this unstable world and stand firmly on Jehovah’s side. I prayerfully did so immediately. I left the world behind and fled to the security of God’s Kingdom, which cannot be shaken.”
12. How has Jehovah’s spiritual temple been filled with glory during these last days?
12 Jehovah has obviously been blessing his people. During these last days, we have seen a huge increase in the number of those worshipping him. In 1914 there were just a few thousand of us. Now there are over eight million actively worshipping God, and millions more join us each year to commemorate the Memorial. In this way, the earthly courtyards of Jehovah’s spiritual temple—his arrangement for pure worship—have been filled with “the precious things of all the nations.” Jehovah’s name has also been glorified by the changes these ones make as they put on the new personality.—Eph. 4:22-24.
13. What other prophecies have been fulfilled by these exciting developments? (See cover picture.)
13 These exciting developments have fulfilled other prophecies, such as the one found in Isaiah chapter 60. Verse 22 of that chapter says: “The little one will become a thousand and the small one a mighty nation. I myself, Jehovah, will speed it up in its own time.” Because of the influx of true worshippers, something wonderful happens. These “precious things” bring with them various skills and abilities, along with a willing spirit to join in the preaching of the “good news of the Kingdom.” Consequently, as Isaiah expressed it, “the milk of nations” is being made available to Jehovah’s people. (Isa. 60:5, 16) With the help of these precious men and women, the preaching work is being carried out in 240 countries and literature is being produced in over 1,000 languages.
A TIME OF DECISION
14. What decision do people have to make now?
14 In this time of the end, the shaking of the nations is forcing people to make a decision. Will they support God’s Kingdom, or will they place their confidence in the governments of this world? This is the choice that all will face. Although Jehovah’s people obey the laws of the government of the land in which they live, they remain completely neutral with regard to the politics of this world. (Rom. 13:1-7) They know that the Kingdom is the only true solution to mankind’s problems. That Kingdom is no part of this world.—John 18:36, 37.
15. What great test of loyalty is described in the book of Revelation?
15 The book of Revelation describes a testing of the loyalty of God’s people in the last days. That testing will continue to bring intense pressure on us. The political systems of this world will demand our worship and will persecute those who refuse to support them. (Rev. 13:12, 15) They will put “under compulsion all people—the small and the great, the rich and the poor, the free and the slaves—that these should be marked on their right hand or on their forehead.” (Rev. 13:16) Slaves in ancient times were branded with a mark to show who owned them. Similarly, all in our day will be expected to have a symbolic mark on their hand or forehead. Their thoughts and actions will show that they belong to and support the political systems.
16. Why is it urgent to strengthen our loyalty to Jehovah now?
16 Will we accept this symbolic mark and give our allegiance to political governments? Those who refuse to receive the mark will face difficulties and danger. The book of Revelation goes on to say: “Nobody can buy or sell except a person having the mark.” (Rev. 13:17) But God’s people know what God will do to those who have the mark mentioned at Revelation 14:9, 10. Rather than bear that mark, they will, in effect, write on their hand, “Belonging to Jehovah.” (Isa. 44:5) Now is the time to make sure that our loyalty to Jehovah is strong. If it is, Jehovah will gladly claim us as his own!
A FINAL SHAKING
17. What do we need to remember with regard to Jehovah’s patience?
17 Jehovah has shown great patience during these last days. He does not want anyone to be destroyed. (2 Pet. 3:9) He has given all an opportunity to repent and to make the right decision. But his patience has limits. Those who reject this opportunity will find themselves in a situation similar to that of Pharaoh in Moses’ day. Jehovah said to Pharaoh: “By now I could have thrust my hand out to strike you and your people with a devastating plague, and you would have been wiped out from the earth. But for this very reason I have kept you in existence: to show you my power and to have my name declared in all the earth.” (Ex. 9:15, 16) All the nations will eventually have to know that Jehovah is the only true God. (Ezek. 38:23) How will this happen?
18. (a) What other type of shaking is described at Haggai 2:6, 20-22? (b) How do we know that Haggai’s words will have a future fulfillment?
18 Centuries after Haggai’s day, the apostle Paul was inspired to show that the words found at Haggai 2:6, 20-22 would have a future fulfillment. (Read.) Paul wrote: “Now he has promised: ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.’ Now the expression ‘yet once more’ indicates the removal of the things that are shaken, things that have been made, in order that the things not shaken may remain.” (Heb. 12:26, 27) Unlike the shaking mentioned at Haggai 2:7, this shaking will mean everlasting destruction for those who, like Pharaoh, refuse to acknowledge Jehovah’s right to rule.
19. What will not be shaken, and how do we know?
19 What will not be shaken, or removed? Paul continued: “Seeing that we are to receive a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us continue to receive undeserved kindness, through which we may acceptably offer God sacred service with godly fear and awe.” (Heb. 12:28) Yes, when the dust settles after this final great shaking, only God’s Kingdom will remain unshaken. It will still be firmly in place!—Ps. 110:5, 6; Dan. 2:44.
20. What choice must people make, and how can we help them?
20 There is no time to waste! People must choose: Will they continue to support the way of life promoted by this world, leading to destruction, or will they work to bring their life into harmony with God’s will, leading to everlasting life? (Heb. 12:25) By our preaching work, we can help people decide what position they will take on this important issue. May we help many more precious ones take their stand for God’s Kingdom. And may we keep in mind the words of our Lord Jesus: “This good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”—Matt. 24:14.
SONG 40 To Whom Do We Belong?
a This discussion provides an updated understanding of Haggai 2:7. In this article, we will learn how we can share in an exciting work that is shaking all the nations. We will also learn that this shaking work produces both a positive and a negative reaction.
b We know that Haggai’s mission was successful because the temple was completed by 515 B.C.E.
c This is an adjustment in understanding. At times we said that the drawing of honesthearted ones to Jehovah was not caused by the shaking of all the nations. See “Questions From Readers” in the May 15, 2006, issue of The Watchtower.
d PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Haggai urged God’s people to have zeal in the temple rebuilding; God’s people in modern times have zealously declared God’s message. A couple share in an earthshaking proclamation work about a final shaking to come.