“The Desire of All Nations Shall Come!”

“The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own. … It is plain to anyone with eyes to see that at the present time all created life groans in a sort of universal travail.” —Romans 8:19,22, Phillips

THE entire Christian world has long pinned their hopes for unspoiled bliss on the foretold second advent of our Lord Jesus. We believe Jesus has indeed returned, and is even now preparing to set up his kingdom for the blessing of all the families of the earth with health, peace, and everlasting life. We believe this because of the signs Jesus gave that would mark his second presence.

During his ministry Jesus compassionately informed his disciples that he would be taken from them. “And he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed.” (Mark 8:31) Just prior to his crucifixion and ascension to the heavenly realms Jesus said to them, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go … I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2,3) These statements greatly troubled Jesus’ disciples, and when they found a suitable opportunity they asked him when his promised return would take place. “As he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming [Greek, parousia, presence], and of the end of the world [Greek, aion, age]?”—Matt. 24:3

By reasoning on the manner in which Jesus answered this question, we are given valuable information about his second advent. We learn that when Jesus has returned he will not be visible to the physical, human eye. In the first place, if that were the case Jesus would then have plainly told his disciples so. Furthermore, ever since his ascension to glory following his crucifixion, Jesus has been a marvelous spirit being of the highest order of creation, invested with the same divine nature as that possessed by the great Almighty God himself, of whom the Apostle Paul says “no man hath seen, nor can see.” (I Tim. 6:16) Therefore, properly, instead of telling his disciples that when he returned they would be able to literally see him, he proceeded to describe to them various signs whereby they would be able to know he was present.

Perhaps foremost among the signs Jesus gave to manifest his invisible presence would be a time of trouble. But the time of trouble that would prove his presence would not be any ordinary, commonplace one, for the world has been full of troubles of one degree or another ever since the advent of the human race. Rather, the time of trouble that would indicate he was present would clearly be an extraordinary and unprecedented one. He said, “For then [at the time of my second presence] shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time.” Indeed, it would be so devastating a time of trouble, Jesus explained, that it will be cut short, and never be allowed to occur again, for he added, “no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.”—Matt. 24:21,22

In Luke’s account of this same great time of trouble that would be a sign of our Lord’s presence Jesus said, “There shall be … upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” (Luke 21:25,26) The English word perplexity used by Jesus in this text is from the Greek word aporia, which means, literally, to have no place to go, or no way out. In translating this same passage the New English Bible reads, “On earth nations will stand helpless, not knowing which way to turn from the surge of the sea.”

The Prophet Isaiah explains that this roaring of the sea and the waves foretold by Jesus to occur at this time represents the anarchy and lawlessness of the angry, frustrated, and suffering masses of mankind at the climax of the trouble. He writes, “Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters.” (Isa. 17:12,13) The psalmist David also spoke of this unparalleled time of trouble to come on the world, indicating that when these waters begin to roar, the earth, or human social arrangements, will be overturned, and the mountains, or kingdoms, will be swallowed up in the midst of the sea, or raging masses of mankind.—Ps. 46:1-3

We believe the time of trouble here described by God’s holy prophets is one that will be different, both in magnitude and kind, from any the world has ever before encountered. We further believe that their beginnings are already being experienced, and may be discerned by those who are watching for the foretold scriptural signs. Indeed, not a week passes without our attention being called in the press to the various problems that day by day more deeply trouble the world, and to which the answers seem continually to become more and more elusive.

One such problem that is clearly unique to the present day is the geometric progression in the numbers of human beings inhabiting this finite planet Earth. About the year 1830 it was estimated there were approximately one billion people on this earth, it having taken some sixty centuries from the creation of father Adam to reach this figure Astonishingly, it took only about one additional century to double this number to two billions of people in 1930, and only some fifty more years to double even that figure to some four billions by 1980. Demographers now tell us that these four billions of earth’s inhabitants will double once more to about eight billions in some thirty-five years. And beyond that, if the population were to continue to explode at present rates the number of people that could be on this planet very shortly becomes mind-boggling and incomprehensible. (Reader’s Digest, January 1982, p. 114) The first thought that comes to the compassionate mind in pondering where this situation would ultimately lead is, how are these additional billions to be fed, inasmuch as already, this very night, hundreds of millions of men, women, and little children in impoverished nations around the world will go to bed hungry, with thousands actually starving to death!

The difficulty thus created might seem at first blush to be simply economic; but it is much more than that—it is also ethical. Some years ago an article appeared in Newsweek, discussing the growth of world population and the closely related food problem. The writer plainly stated his view that “The United States should remain an island of plenty in a sea of hunger. The future of mankind is at stake. … This planet is indeed an Eden—to date our only Eden. Admittedly our Eden is plagued by pollution. Some of us have polluted the planet by reproducing too many of us. … If we try to save the starving millions today, we will simply destroy what’s left of Eden [this planet Earth].

“Should we send food,” he continues, “knowing that each child saved in Southeast Asia, India or Africa will probably live to reproduce and thereby bring more people into the world to live even more miserably? … All the misguided efforts [to help hungry peoples] have merely increased the number who go to bed hungry each night. There have never been more miserable, deprived people in the world than there are right now.” This harsh proposal smacks of the equally heartless military arrangement known as triage, under which the most severely wounded on the battlefield are left to die in order that limited medical facilities and supplies may be used to return the less seriously wounded to the fighting. Truly, it is a telling indication of the measure of the problem when a highly-educated family man can bring himself to offer such a so-called solution.

But feeding these additional billions is only part of the problem. They must also be clothed, housed, and supplied with the tools required to equip them to make a living; and never before in the history of humankind has this need been so great for so many. The productive capacity of the world’s huge factories has never been so enormous, and mountains of products are daily turned out for man’s consumption and well-being. But in the effort by the industrial giants of the world thus to keep pace with humankind’s growing and multitudinous physical needs, byproducts of waste substances are also being created on a vast scale, causing pollution of our precious air, water and land, and creating health hazards and other problems never before experienced in the history of humankind. The extent of the resulting damage is not known, but it is known that some of these pollutants remain active for long periods of time, some for many hundreds of years.

As a result we have garbage dumps struggling to cope with mountains of domestic refuse; widespread use of highly toxic pesticides and insecticides; oil spills; long-lasting nuclear wastes; destructive acid rain; drinking wells poisoned by chemical wastes—all the result of imperfect man’s efforts to supply the growing billions of earth’s population with the essentials—and nonessentials—of life. Says one writer, “Unless major new steps are taken, the world 20 years from now will be a filthy, unstable planet with billions of poor people scrambling for scarce, high-priced resources.”—U.S. News & World Report, 8/4/80

Worrisome as these problems have become, what most of all torments humankind today is the fearsome possibility that civilization itself might be destroyed by a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. But the nuclear bomb is now possessed not only by the two great superpowers, but also by six other great nations, with some twelve others about to become members of the so-called “nuclear club” in the next three years. Beyond that time there seems to be no end who may possess nuclear bombs, even including local terrorist groups.

Clearly, these are problems that have never before been experienced by the human race—they are unique and special to our day and age. Indeed, they are troubles that fulfill Jesus’ prophecy of the coming “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time,” and which he said would be the sign of his second presence.—Matt. 24:3,21

Furthermore, they are all products of the increase of knowledge the Prophet Daniel said would accompany Jesus’ second presence, and thus we are given additional confirmation of that event. (Dan. 12:1-4) It is a generally recognized fact that in the last one hundred years knowledge has grown at a phenomenal pace, and the practical application of that knowledge has had widespread effects. It has reduced infant mortality; it has resulted in improved hospital facilities, procedures, and medicines, and has thus been a factor in increasing life expectancy, adding to the problem of population growth. It has made possible the creation of thousands of new chemicals and industrial products which are, truly, a boon to mankind, but which also add to the production of unmanageable poisonous wastes. It is this same increase of knowledge that has led to the invention of the nuclear bomb, whose awesome power to inflict widespread suffering and destruction presently fills the hearts of mankind with dread as they observe, with perplexity, “those things which are coming on the earth.”

When the disciples asked Jesus how they would be able to discern his second presence, their question pointed to another important milepost in the development of God’s great plan of the ages for man’s blessing. They asked him, “What shall be the sign of thy presence, and of the end of the world [aion, age]?” We see from the conjunction of these two parts of the one question that the very same signs which tell us Jesus is already invisibly present also mark the approaching end of this present evil world. (Gal. 1:4) This is truly good news to the Lord’s long-suffering people! It is also good news to the entire, travailing world of mankind, for the Apostle Peter tells us that after this present world or civilization passes away in the final phase of the foretold time of trouble, it will be followed by a glorious new world, or social order, “wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (II Pet. 3:7,10,12,13) This is Peter’s way of describing Christ’s approaching thousand-year kingdom for the blessing of all the families of the earth!—Gen. 22:18; Rev. 20:4,6

But these heart-warming signs are only seen by those who are watching in faith. Today, the world of mankind is still in darkness concerning Jehovah God’s glorious plan for their deliverance from the shackles of sin and death and for their restitution to life and health, although that great event is almost at the door. (Matt. 24:38, 39) Many troubled statesmen, however, have come to realize that these are global problems, and will be solved only by wise and just world leadership, with wise and just sharing of earth’s bounties among all peoples regardless of narrow national interests. Indeed, it was on this high hope and lofty principle that the ill-fated League of Nations was created, but which was wrecked on the rocks of nationalistic selfishness. Its successor, the United Nations Organization, is even now struggling against the same fate for the same reason. But the hope and, indeed, the realization of the need for a wise and just world arrangement still persists. This recurrent hope found expression in a beautiful statement recently placed in a national magazine by a large insurance company. It read as follows:


Let us pray that strength and courage abundant be given to all who work for a world of reason and understanding; that the good that lies in every man’s heart may day by day be magnified; that men will come to see more clearly not that which divides them, but that which unites them; that each hour may bring us closer to a final victory, not of nation over nation, but of man over his own evils and weaknesses; that the true spirit of this Christmas Season—its joy, its beauty, its hope, and above all its abiding faith—may live among us; that the blessings of peace be ours—the peace to build and grow, to live in harmony and sympathy with others, and to plan for the future with confidence.

In a world so plagued with hunger, sickness, crime, and death; a world vainly grappling with individual selfishness and national greed; frustrated by seemingly insoluble problems; yea, even threatened with the utter destruction of its boasted civilization, whence come these gentle glimmers of hope that sustain the hearts of the travailing world of mankind? Perhaps, mercifully, they have been implanted there by the great and loving Creator himself, lest the poor, suffering world be overwhelmed with dismay and apprehension as they behold the magnitude of the difficulties that confront them. Or, perhaps, to prepare the hearts of mankind, unwittingly, to anticipate and to rejoice in the new and righteous government that is soon to be established in the earth for the blessing of all mankind, both living and dead!

It is this grand, worldwide new order of things to come that Jehovah God so lovingly and wisely planned for the eternal blessing of his human creation from before the world began. This will be the wonderful new world wherein will dwell righteousness which is the desire of all nations!

If the stage is, indeed, almost prepared for the final act in this greatest drama of all time, what seems to delay its glorious consummation? The Apostle Paul has already given us the answer. He says the whole creation is waiting on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own! The revelator tells us that when Christ is reigning in his kingdom for the blessing of the resurrected world of mankind, his footstep followers of this Gospel Age, will be reigning with him in glory. “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: … they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”—Rev. 20:6

When Jesus was among men at his first advent he invited his disciples to walk in his steps. But he was inviting them to a life of sacrifice. “He said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) Jesus made it plain that it would be a narrow way, a difficult way, a way of suffering. “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:14) In fact, so difficult and so exacting is the way that the call has now been going out for more than nineteen hundred years, seeking, testing, and perfecting those who heed the call and follow in the Master’s steps. This little flock is called the bride of Christ. When the number required to make up this glorious, highly-honored body is complete, the marriage of the Lamb shall take place, Christ’s kingdom will be in the earth, and then, at last, the desire of all nations for justice, peace and everlasting life shall come!—Rev. 19:7

We believe the Prophet Haggai confirms the evidence presented by God’s other holy prophets that the time of blessing is not far distant, for he gives us a clue. He says, “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 [then] the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.”—Hag. 2:6,7

In his letter to the Hebrew brethren, the Apostle Paul amplifies this statement by the prophet. He explains that just prior to the inauguration of the Law Covenant with the nation of Israel at Sinai, God’s voice shook the earth, “But now,” through the Prophet Haggai, Paul says, “he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 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. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”—Exod. 19:16-18; Heb. 12:18-28

Paul is here telling us that the old Law Covenant that was made with Israel, with Moses as its mediator, was to permit them to seek life by keeping its commandments. It was a picture of the better New Covenant, with a better Mediator, even Jesus and his glorified church, for the blessing of the world of mankind with everlasting life during the thousand-year reign of Christ. The shaking that preceded the inauguration of that old Law Covenant pictured the shaking of the heavens and the earth that is even now gaining momentum, pointing to the approaching inauguration of the New Covenant with the resurrected world of mankind, when God’s law will be truly written in the hearts of the people.

In harmony with this the Apostle Peter tells us, “The day of the Lord [Jehovah] will come … in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. … Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (II Pet. 3:10,13) The shaking and fiery destruction of the figurative heavens and earth described by both Haggai and Peter are elements of the same time of trouble that is presently beating at the very foundations of the civilized world’s social and religious arrangements.

Jehovah God made great promises to the fleshly house of Israel, if they were faithful. But when their Messiah came they rejected him, and the exceeding great and precious promises that fleshly Israel might have gained passed to spiritual Israel, the church. (I Cor. 3:16; II Cor. 6:16; Heb. 3:6; Matt. 23:37,38; I Pet. 2:6-10) It is this spiritual house, composed of Jesus’ faithful footstep followers of this Gospel Age shortly to close, that the prophet says God will fill with glory.

And what transcendent glory that will be! They will be given the divine nature! They shall dwell in the very presence of Jehovah God, and be like him, and see him as he is! To these Jesus makes the promise, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, … and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God; and I will write upon him my new name.”—Rev. 3:12

Speaking of the supreme honor that shall be accorded these most highly blessed of all beings, the revelator wrote, “There came unto me one of the seven angels … saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God; and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. … And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations … shall walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor to it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day; for there shall be no night there.”—Rev. 21:9-11,23-25

And they will live and reign with Christ for a thousand years for the blessing of all the families of the earth, in a glorious new world in which there will be no more wars, no more hunger, no more sickness and sorrow, and no more death. (Rev. 21:1-5) No wonder the Apostle Paul wrote concerning these, “The whole creation is on tiptoe to see the wonderful sight of the sons of God coming into their own!” If the world of mankind had any real conception of the blessings in store for them at the bountiful hand of a loving God through our Lord Jesus Christ and the glorified sons of God, they might well, even now, before its consummation, rise up as one, and shout for joy!

The number is not yet complete. The time is short. He that hath an ear, let him hear!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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