A Great Shaking—Then a New Heavens and a New Earth
"For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land.’" Haggai 2:6 NAS
Our world certainly seems to be shaking these days. On every level—whether economic, political, social or religious—conditions are very shaky. Since we are a world so connected, what happens in one part of the earth very often instantly ripples around our globe.
Government leaders may have a sincere vision for solving problems and make great promises for moving forward. But when they come to power, they are always greatly challenged from all directions. Promises to resolve existing issues are usually met by very complex realities—the unexpected, the unavoidable, often derail the best of intentions.
Nuclear annihilation appears again to be looming on the horizon—because a seemingly irresponsible government is refusing to yield to international pressure to halt nuclear development. This year the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the hands of their "Doomsday Clock" to five minutes before midnight due to the failure of many nations to cooperate on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as well as other issues. Furthermore the whole Middle East’s "Arab Spring" (or "Winter") is still at a very combustible point. A recent conflict put Japanese living in China on edge—contributing to stressful shaky conditions. Extreme "food insecurity" remains an issue for Afghanistan and many countries in central Africa.
Stabilizing Today’s World
Can or will the West—specifically America—rise to the occasion as a great world stabilizer? Or will the US withdraw from international responsibilities. The United States has its own internal problems—with unemployment, continued housing foreclosures, mounting national debt in the trillions and hunger for 14.5% of population due to poverty. Middle-class Americans are turning to "Dumpster Diving" for food. AARP has created a "benefits" page for needy seniors to sign up for "food stamps." Still the US priorities focus on heavily funded military programs and sophisticated space trips to Mars, Saturn and beyond.
When running for the presidential office, the candidates offered solutions for Health Care Reform, Social Security, School Funding, Workers’ Rights, Tax Reform, etc., etc. But even with the best of intentions, campaign promises are hard to keep.
The Shaking, "Rattling," Will Result in Blessings
However, there is one dimension of shaking in our world today that is very positive. It has to do with a symbolic prophecy about shaking in a "valley" of "bones…very dry" (Ezekiel 37:1-14). Because this prophecy is actually also interpreted for the Prophet Ezekiel—there is no room even for trying to imagine what the prophecy might mean. It is very clear:
"…These bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished….’ Therefore prophesy… Thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves, My people; and I will bring you into the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I have…caused you to come up out of your graves, My people. And I will put My Spirit within you, and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it."
Yes, for centuries the children of Israel have been scattered all over the world—seemingly with no hope for ever becoming a nation state again. But this prophecy forecasted that God would some day bring them from the "grave" of national death back to "the land of Israel." However, this restoration would be accomplished by a "rattling"—and only in stages.
First, the "bones" would come together. Then connecting "sinews" and then "skin," so to speak. Only finally would "breath" to give actual "life" be given to Israel to stand as an "army."
"The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. And He caused me to pass among them…and lo, they were very dry. And He said to me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’ And I answered, ‘O Lord GOD, Thou knowest.’ Again He said to me, ‘Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones, Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. And I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin, and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the LORD.’"
"So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew, and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD, Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.’ So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they came to life, and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army." NAS
Israel Regathered with Rattling—Shaking. Thus, this "rattling"— shaking—would be not a peaceful time, but troublous. Similarly, the Prophet Jeremiah was told when the LORD would "bring again the captivity of My people Israel and Judah...to return to the land that I gave to their fathers..." that it would be a time "not of peace." The restoration of Israel at the end of the Age the LORD would be compared to a "travail" of intermittent pain—described as "trouble."
"For, lo, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it. And these are the words that the LORD spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah. For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it." KJV
Yes, Israel will be "saved" out of the "time of trouble" of the end of the Age—for the purpose of blessing the whole world of mankind! Therefore, instead of all the Gentile nations achieving their evil intent against Israel (the world’s alleged problem child) to destroy it and take "booty," the attacking hosts will be defeated as God intervenes (Zechariah 14:3). Only after defeated will they come to learn about the God of Israel and eventually prosper! In essence, God will be saying to all peoples of the earth, ‘Although you went up against Israel to destroy, now you will be coming up to Israel to get blessings!’ (See Isaiah 2:2-4; Zechariah 14:16-18).
False "Heavens" Also Shaken. Meanwhile, of course, the spiritual ruling powers of today are also resistant to the inauguration of the new incoming Kingdom administration. Satan—"the prince of the power of the air"—certainly doesn’t want to see it happen (Ephesians 2:2). Neither do any of his false religions or any of his counterfeit churches of Jesus Christ (who are setting up their own "kingdoms") want to see the "present evil world" collapse. Nevertheless, "…the powers of the heavens shall be shaken."
So, figuratively, there are false "heavens" which God permits for a time but are to "tremble." (Just as this trembling is symbolic, of course, so is the "burning.")
"Thus I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. . . .Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble, And the earth will be shaken from its place, at the fury of the LORD of hosts in the day of His burning anger." NAS
So after the troubles of the Christian Age, Jesus prophesied that when he returns these "powers of the heavens shall be shaken." But the shaking signals that God’s promised Glorious Kingdom is near!
Mathew 24:29, 30
"Immediately after the tribulation of those days....the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And....they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
"And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and upon the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. "And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. "But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Shaking Inaugurating "New Heavens" and "New Earth"
At that same time, the "roaring" of the rebellious people on earth will be compared to a tumultuous "sea" rising up in high "waves." Apostle Paul sums up this dual expectation for shaking of "heaven" and "earth." However, he also explains God’s preparation for inaugurating His Kingdom is already in motion:
"And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven." And this expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude...."
Knowing where this old world order is going, we certainly have "gratitude" because we can now take comfort in seeing God’s Plan progressing. But even those who now do not understand will then praise God in His Kingdom. Because of all its overflowing incredible blessings, they will be able to forget all the pain of the past. "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind" (Isaiah 65:17).
Reign of New Heavens and Earth. So until God’s Kingdom is fully set up, there will be rioting clamor around the world demanding real and fancied rights from governments. Whether it be in Greece because the EU needs to reduce debt so it is taking away existing benefits for the common people—or in America. Since the US Congress voted to reduce food stamp assistance, many more Americans now are scavenging garbage dumpsters to find food for their families. Will "Tax Reform" ever work? No, but soon "...the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor" (Psalm 140:12).
Racial prejudice (even against Africans in China) will be a thing of the past. In God’s Kingdom all men will be like brothers with respect and love for each other. Furthermore, there will be no need for planning a military budget or funding for higher education because "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9).
God’s promises also include true Social Security and Eternal Benefits. "You who have no money, come, buy and eat!" (Isaiah 55:1 NIV) "Israel will blossom and sprout; And they will fill the whole world with fruit" (Isaiah 27:6). How shall the world "eat in plenty and be satisfied"? (Joel 2:26) When nations come to Jerusalem and learn about the God of Jacob and "beat their swords into plowshares they, like Israel, will prosper agriculturally in the "new Earth" of Christ’s Kingdom. There will be "no more war" (Isaiah 2:2,3; Micah 4:3); there will be true "Long Term Health Care"—and the "water of Life" will be for all peoples (Revelation 21:6, 22:17).
In the New Heavens and New Earth, not only will "all" who ever died gradually come back "alive," but human bodies will gradually become healthier and stronger—with skin "fresher than a child" (1 Corinthians 15:22; Job 33:24,25). What a prospect! "We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13). God will keep His promises!