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Discipling the Nations


"Discipling the Nations"

March 8, 2014


In the Sabbath reading for this week’s lesson an interesting sentence is written: “Jesus, the Desire of all nations, was not to be limited to a single group.” This title of Jesus comes from Haggai 2:7.

The word “desire” means “a state of longing for something or [some] one, implying a hoping or looking forward” for the fulfillment of the desire. (J. Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament)).

The word “desire” is translated various ways (in the KJV) such as “pleasant” twelve times, “desire” four times, “precious” four times, and “beloved” three times. Since all of these attributes belong to Christ, we may present Him thus to all the nations. In this way nations may be instructed and won to Him. Jesus said we are to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19).

Haggai predicted that the second temple to be built was to be greater than Solomon’s temple in that the Messiah, “the Desire of all the Nations.” would come to it. Placing this prediction alongside the memory text for this week: “For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations” (Isaiah 56:7) we learn that the temple to be built (and Christianity which followed) should be a place where people from every nation should meet for prayer and fellowship. A house of prayer is where people whose heart longings have been satisfied because those longings have been fulfilled by faith in Christ alone.

In the Preface of the Desire of Ages we read: “In the hearts of all mankind, of whatever race or station in life, there are inexpressible longings for something they do not now possess. This longing is implanted in the very constitution of man by a merciful God, that man may not be satisfied with his present conditions or attainment, whether bad, or good, or better. God desires that the human shall seek the best, and find it to the eternal blessing of his soul….

“God’s design is that the ‘longing of the human heart should lead to the One who alone is able to satisfy it. The desire is of Him that it may lead to Him, the fullness and fulfillment of that desire.” Preface to the Desire of Ages, p. 1

When a person’s heart is renewed, then it is that Christ is truly seen as “the Desire of all Nations.” When the “Desire of all nations” comes to dwell in human hearts, by the Holy Spirit, He fills “this house with glory” and with His peace that passes understanding. It is through the great teaching of justification by faith that peace comes to persons and to nations who live by faith: “Therefore having been justified, by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” “The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever” (Romans 5:1; Isaiah 32:17).

All the people of all the nations have the same troubles, fears, burdens, needs, miseries and desires and can be helped by believing the good news about Jesus. If it were possible for the people who have been converted from all nations, to come to one place, and there compare the desires and workings of their hearts, even though they had never seen each other’s faces, their desires after Christ would be similar. All hearts respond to Him in a similar manner.

Waggoner wrote:

“God has implanted desires in every soul, which can be satisfied only by the possession of Christ, in order that when He is lifted up before them, they may see in Him the object of their desires, and be drawn to Him…. Jesus Christ is ‘the Desire of all nations.’ Haggai 2. 7. There are comparatively few of the people in the world who know Him, and who recognize Him as the object of their desire; but it is a fact that all the very longings of the human heart can be satisfied in Christ, and in Him alone.” (E. J. Waggoner, “Present Truth” (United Kingdom), March 15, 1894).

Consider the mindset of various people of the world. To the Jewish mind, there were only two classes of people in the world: Jews and everyone else. The “everyone else” they called Gentiles. People could be Babylonian, Assyrian, Roman, Chinese, or Ethiopian—they were all Gentiles. This attitude was likewise common among others in the ancient world; the Greeks viewed non-Greeks as “barbarians.” However, this kind of attitude is removed when the gospel is accepted in mind and heart because the gospel states unequivocally, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28).

Moving to Tuesday’s lesson, the universal aspect of the gospel is presented. The passage begins with Greeks approaching Phillip, saying “We would see Jesus.” The passage ends with Jesus stating, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all to Myself” (John 12:20, 21, 32).
God in His mercy, beholding the universal ruin of the world by sin and the universal desire for something better than sin, gave a universal remedy that reaches to every part of the world. Christ is not limited to any one kingdom or nation in the world; but He is God’s salvation to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 45:22; 52:10).

The universality of the gospel is further enunciated in the following passages. “We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.” “Now we believe … for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” “For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.” “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” (1 John 4:14; John 4:42; 1 Tim 4:10; Titus 2:11).

There are very few of the people in the world who know Jesus and who recognize Him as the object of the desire of their hearts. It is a fact that all the varied longings of the human heart can be satisfied in Christ alone. These longings are God-implanted. The desires in every soul can be satisfied only by the possession of Christ. The devil has deceived people with the notion that these desires may be satisfied in some other way than by the possession of Christ. Because of his deceptions the glad tidings must be presented as the hope of every man, woman and child. And this gospel is to be presented to every class of people – both high and low.

Paul was chosen by God to give the gospel to kings, and to the great men of the earth. He wrote, in view of his visit to Rome, the capital of the world, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:17).  And today you and I have been chosen by God to proclaim that same gospel, “the everlasting gospel … to those who dwell on the earth to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6). This is the only way that will result in the “Discipling [of] the Nations.”

-Jerry Finneman