At that time his voice shook the earth [but did not shake Mount Sinai to pieces], but now he has promised, saying: ‘Yet once more I will set in commotion not only the earth but also the heaven.’”
33. Where did God make such a promise, and why did the writer now quote it as fitting?
33 Where did Jehovah God make such a promise? Why, in the prophecy of Haggai, chapter two, verse six, given in ancient Jerusalem, in these words: “For this is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘Yet once—it is a little while—and I am rocking the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry ground.’” But that divine promise was not completely fulfilled in “a little while” after the prophet Haggai uttered them. That is why the writer to the Christianized Hebrews makes this further inspired comment on that divine promise about shaking the heavens as well as the earth:
34. What comment does the writer make on his quotation of Haggai 2:6?
34 “Now the expression ‘Yet once more’ signifies the removal of the things being shaken as things that have been made, in order that the things not being shaken may remain. Wherefore, seeing that we are to receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us [unlike Esau] continue to have undeserved kindness, through which we may acceptably render God sacred service with godly fear and awe. For our God is also a consuming fire [as destructive as the fire with which Mount Sinai was set aflame].”—Hebrews 12:25-29.
35. To what time does the writer apply the expression “Yet once more,” and so what must be close as regards the shakable, made things?
35 Have we noticed? The writer to the Christianized Hebrews applies the divine expression “Yet once more” to the future and explains that the only unshakable thing is the kingdom that the Christians who render sacred service to God in an acceptable manner will receive. Also, that the removal of all the made things that are shaken will leave room for that kingdom, a government that will remain standing and in operation. The shakable made things have not yet been removed, although they may be already set in commotion and be rocking and shaking. Evidently, then, according to the interpretation placed on things by the inspired sacred Scriptures, the prophecy of Haggai 2:6, 7 has a modern, twentieth-century application and the fulfillment of the prophecy to the point of completion is yet ahead of us, but very close!
36. What question now arises regarding a modern, twentieth-century fulfillment of Haggai 2:6, 7?
36 The literal heavens, earth, sea and dry ground will not be removed and perish. Certainly this was not the case in any small-scale first fulfillment of the prophecy in or a little while after Haggai’s day. So, how is it that the divine promise is carried out in modern, twentieth-century fulfillment? “For this is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘Yet once—it is a little while—and I am rocking the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry ground.’ ‘And I will rock all the nations, and the desirable things of all the nations must come in; and I will fill this house with glory,’ Jehovah of armies has said.”—Haggai 2:6, 7.
37. To what is the rocking of all the things mentioned to lead up, and what must happen to the things that oppose and hinder this?
37 Who is there that cannot see that the rocking and shaking of all the things mentioned is to lead up to the glorification of the Temple of Jehovah God? That means the beautification and exaltation of the pure worship of the one living and true God, not at a literal house of worship on earth, but at his true Temple, namely, the realm of the worship of Him with spirit and with truth, within the framework of his special arrangement. (John 4:21-24) Jehovah must be given his rightful place of worship in all the living universe. All things that have opposed and hindered this right and pure worship must be removed from all existence. According to the inspired writer in Hebrews 12:26, 27, the rocking and shaking of all those things signifies the removing of them, their being shaken to pieces.
38. As regards the rocking or shaking, what about the things to which the anointed Christians have approached (Hebrews 12:22, 23)?
38 The “city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem,” will not be shaken and removed. Neither will its heavenly location, “Mount Zion.” Nor will the holy “myriads of angels, in general assembly,” nor the “congregation of the firstborn who have been enrolled in the heavens,” nor the “spiritual lives of righteous ones who have been made perfect.” (Hebrews 12:22, 23) These things to which the dedicated, baptized, anointed Christians have approached are not things perishable. These are not associated with or dependent on a typical, material temple here on earth, like the temples built in the earthly Jerusalem by King Solomon and Governor Zerubbabel and High Priest Joshua the son of Jehozadak. These imperishable things have to do with Jehovah’s greater temple, his spiritual temple, which is the only temple that can contain him in its Holy of Holies (heaven itself). (1 Kings 8:27; Isaiah 66:1; Acts 7:48-50; 17:24, 25; Hebrews 9:23, 24) Also, those imperishable, irremovable things have to do with Jehovah’s “kingdom that cannot be shaken.”—Hebrews 12:28.
39. So, are the “heavens” that are rocked literal or symbolic, and why?
39 What, then, are the “heavens” that are to be rocked and shaken and removed? Jehovah, the great Rocker and Shaker and Remover, makes the answer plain to us. In that marvelous book of “signs,” the Revelation, which He gave to the Hebrew-Christian apostle John, He gives us a symbolic picture of the removing of those heavens. In Revelation 20:11 he inspired the apostle John to write: “And I saw a great white throne and the one seated on it. From before him the earth and the heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.” That fugitive heaven was replaced, for, in Revelation 21:1, 2, John goes on to say: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea is no more. I saw also the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” Just as here the “holy city, New Jerusalem,” is a sign picturing “the bride, the Lamb’s wife” (Revelation 21:9), so the “former heavens,” the “heavens” that fled away from before God on his great white throne, are a “sign” or symbol.
40 A “sign” of what? Evidently of some invisible, spiritual heavenly organization that dominated over mankind. Revelation chapter twelve gives us the clue to this. It tells us: “And another sign was seen in heaven, and, look! a great fiery-colored dragon, with seven heads and ten horns and upon its heads seven diadems; and its tail drags a third of the stars of heaven, and it hurled them down to the earth. . . . And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
41 “‘Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God! And they conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their witnessing, and they did not love their souls even in the face of death. On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.’”—Revelation 12:3-5, 7-12.
42. From this account the “heavens” are seen to be pictorial of what?
42 From this account in sign language it can clearly be seen that the symbolic “heavens” picture the invisible spirit organization of Satan the Devil and the demon angels under him. With these wicked demon angels Satan the Devil has misled the “entire inhabited earth.” Jesus Christ called him the “ruler” of the world of mankind. (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) The Christian apostle Paul identifies him as “the god of this system of things” who blinds the minds of the unbelievers. Paul also speaks of him as “the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience.” (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2) The apostle John calls attention to Satan’s influence on the world of mankind by saying: “We [Christians] know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) Satan and his demon angels are the ones whom Ephesians 6:12 speaks of as “the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” They are the unseen heavens now dominating evil mankind.
43. What can be said as to whether those “heavens” have already begun to be shaken?
43 Thanks be to Almighty God that they are not a permanent “heavens” over the human race. Shortly now, after the coming “great tribulation” upon all mankind, those “heavens” must flee from before the face of Jehovah God seated upon his “great white throne.” (Revelation 20:11) So they are removable “heavens.” They are heavens that can be shaken to their complete destruction. The shaking of them has already begun. At what time? After God’s Messianic kingdom was born in the heavens when the “times of the Gentiles” or “appointed times of the nations” ended in early fall of the year 1914 C.E. Then the enthroned Jesus Christ, acting as the heavenly Michael, the “great prince” who stands in behalf of God’s people, began waging war upon Satan the Devil and his demon organization. As a consequence those wicked spirit forces were shaken out of their heavenly position and were made to fall to the vicinity of our earth.
44. What has that shaking of the “heavens” from contacts above resulted in, and when will the shaking be brought to a finish?
44 Their chagrin at being shaken loose from former heavenly contacts has resulted in increased “woe” for mankind and also persecution upon Jehovah’s dedicated, baptized people, the spiritual Israelites, here on earth. (Revelation 12:5-13, 17; Daniel 12:1) But with this debasement the shaking of them is not all over. The final shaking to a finish must come after the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon and must cause their fall into the prisonlike abyss, where they will be restrained for the thousand years of Christ’s uninterrupted reign over redeemed mankind. Thus those wicked “heavens” now will disappear and will give way to the “new heavens” in which righteousness will dwell forever.—2 Peter 3:7-13; Revelation 20:1-3.
45. That initial shaking of those “heavens” has affected affairs where, and what must be said as regards a shaking and removal of our literal earth?
45 This abasing and restraining of the demonic heavens to the neighborhood of the earth for a “short period of time” till their drop into the “abyss” takes place tremendously affected the affairs of mankind on the earth, since 1914 C.E. But how is it that Jehovah God fulfills his promise to rock, shake and set in commotion the “earth” as well as the “heavens”? (Haggai 2:6; Hebrews 12:26) Well, just as the “heavens” to be shaken are not the literal visible heavens over mankind, so the “earth” that is set in contrast to those heavens is not the literal earth under man’s feet. Concerning the literal earth and its permanence, Psalm 104:5 speaks of God’s creation and says: “He has founded the earth upon its established places; it will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.” In harmony with this, our literal earthly globe will not be made to rock and shake with a view to its removal.
46. What, then, is the “earth” that is shaken and removed, and when did it come into existence?
46 Logically, then, it is the symbolic “earth” that Jehovah has promised to rock and set in commotion with a view to its removal. Just as the associated “heavens” are made up of intelligent living creatures (the spirit demons under Satan the Devil), so the symbolic “earth” is made up of intelligent living creatures, namely, human society that is lying in the power of the wicked one, Satan the Devil. This ungodly human society came into existence sometime after the flood of Noah’s day and now includes practically all the world of mankind. (Revelation 12:9; 1 John 5:19) This symbolic “earth” and the associated “heavens” over it make up the “heavens and the earth that are now” and that, by the word of God, “are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men,” as 2 Peter 3:7 tells us. Before the Sovereign Lord Jehovah destroys this symbolic “earth” as by consuming fire, how is it that he makes it rock, shakes it, puts it into commotion?
MAKING THE “EARTH” TO ROCK
47. How did God begin to do the shaking of the symbolic “earth”?
47 This He begins to do by exerting his claim to sovereignty over the dwelling place of human society, namely, the literal earth. This He does in a way that he never did before. Selfish, self-centered human society claims to own the earth and to have the right to do with the earth and its seas just what it cares to do. This leaves earth’s Creator out of consideration and is wrong as well as shortsighted. The Sovereign Lord Jehovah let this view and its application prevail uninterruptedly and unchallenged until the close of the Gentile Times or “appointed times of the nations” in 1914 C.E. Then he put life into his own rightful claim by bringing to birth in the heavens his Messianic kingdom. This invisible heavenly government, pictured in Revelation 12:5 as a “child,” the “son” of God’s “woman,” is appointed to “shepherd all the nations with an iron rod.” Jehovah’s assertion of his universal sovereignty in this way shook the symbolic “earth,” ungodly human society, loose from its long quiescent state of being settled down, its being permitted by Jehovah God to treat the literal earth as its own, and misusing it as if they were responsible to nobody.
48. How would the symbolic unspiritual “earth” be jarred by the invisible heavenly action by the Universal Sovereign Jehovah?
48 How, though, would earthly human society be rocked or shaken by this invisible heavenly action of the Universal Sovereign if human society was unaware of it? How would unspiritual human society feel it, feel jarred by it? This would be by his having them notified that the Gentile Times, “the appointed times of the nations,” had ended in 1914, the year in which World War I began. Their long world domination had now ended, for now it could be said to the Sovereign Lord Jehovah: “We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken you great power and begun ruling as king. But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came.” (Revelation 11:17, 18) The notifying of the earthly human society concerning this universal change in the status quo was done by the ambassadors on earth of that now reigning Sovereign, Jehovah God the Almighty.
49. Who are those “ambassadors” that serve the notification, and why is their mission now more urgent than ever?
49 Who are these “ambassadors”? These are the dedicated, baptized, spirit-anointed Christians who are described by the apostle Paul’s words in his second letter to the 2 Corinthians, chapter five, verses nineteen and twenty: “God was by means of Christ reconciling a world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and he committed the word of the reconciliation to us. We are therefore ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making entreaty through us. As substitutes for Christ we beg: ‘Become reconciled to God.’” Now that Jehovah God the Almighty had taken to himself his great power and begun to reign by means of his newborn Messianic kingdom in the heavens, it was more urgent than ever for earthly human society to become reconciled to God. The complete removal of the entire worldwide system of things was now impending, and its “time of the end” had begun. (Daniel 12:4) The question is, Who will escape destruction with it?
50. How did the symbolic “earth” react to the notification served upon it by the Kingdom ambassadors?
50 How did the symbolic “earth,” the war-afflicted human society, react to the notification served upon it by the “ambassadors” of God’s established kingdom in the hands of His Christ? Did the earth quiet down, in peaceful reaction to the invitation to become reconciled to Jehovah’s newborn kingdom by Christ? The history of those years of World War I answers No! The war-torn “earth” was rocked, shaken, set in commotion by such notification. As Revelation 11:18 foretold: “The nations became wrathful,” that is, against the Kingdom ambassadors. They tried to use the earth-wide wartime conditions to suppress these Kingdom ambassadors. They even resorted to violent persecution, in some cases even to the death of ambassadors. This was the experience of the dedicated, baptized, anointed Christians then known as International Bible Students, but today known as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses.
51. (a) What may be said further about this serving of notice by the Kingdom ambassadors and the effects thereof? (b) How has the cause of this been just as stated in Hebrews 12:26?
51 On the pages of history stands written the shameful record that the symbolic “earth” made for itself as it rocked, shook, became filled with violent commotion in hostility to Jehovah’s Kingdom ambassadors. The notification served by the faithful ambassadors of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has continued to this day, on an ever-widening scale, and the symbolic “earth” is still being rocked, shaken, set in commotion by the notification and its challenging significance. As a proof that this notification tells the truth we see fulfilled the things that Jesus Christ said would mark this “time of the end”: “There will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences and food shortages; and there will be fearful sights and from heaven great signs.” (Luke 21:11) But in a symbolic way it has been just as Hebrews 12:26 says concerning Jehovah’s presence at Mount Sinai when giving the Ten Commandments: “At that time his voice shook the earth.” In these days the delivery of the message from his written Word by means of his Kingdom ambassadors has shaken the symbolic “earth.”
52. What is pictured by the “sea” and by the “dry ground” that are also to be rocked?
52 All elements of human society on earth have been made to rock and shake. It is just as the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: “Yet once—it is a little while—and I am rocking the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry ground.” (Haggai 2:6) On the upper crust of our earthly globe there appear the sea and the dry ground; the sea being constantly in motion and the dry ground being quite stable, except for a local earthquake. The prophecy of Haggai 2:6 having a symbolic meaning, as in the case of the “heavens and the earth,” the symbolic “sea” would be that part of human society that is unsettled, restless, tossing up, as it were, “seaweed and mire,” unpeaceable, desirous of radical changes, continually beating against the “dry ground.” (Isaiah 57:20) In contrast, the symbolic “dry ground” would be that part of human society that is settled, stable, conservative, trying to keep the status quo, opposed to radical changes.
53. How is it shown whether these two elements of human society have been rocked?
53 Nevertheless, both of these elements of human society desire rule of the earthly globe by men rather than by God, the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. Hence they also have been rocked by the serving of notice upon them by the spiritual ambassadors, announcing that the “appointed times of the nations” have expired and that Jehovah’s kingdom by Christ now reigns in the heavens and that the time fast approaches for the utter removal of this whole earthly system of things in a great tribulation such as mankind has never experienced before. (Matthew 24:3-22; Mark 13:4-20) Showing that they are being rocked by the message from God’s Word, both elements of human society, the conservative and the radical, have become “wrathful” against the proclaimers of the divine message, the Kingdom ambassadors.
1. What does Haggai 2:7 go on to say about what follows the rocking of the nations, and so what should we not want to do as respects Jehovah’s worship?
IT IS apparent that the outworking of the prophecy of Haggai 2:6 has been going on since Jehovah God the Almighty took over his universal sovereignty in that war-marked year of 1914 C.E.