In Haggai 2:7 the Lord says, “I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory.” The King James Version uses the phrase “the desire of all nations.” Who or what is this object of desire?
Because of the KJV translation, many have taken this verse as a reference to the Messiah, Jesus Christ. This interpretation is given wider circulation every Christmas season in the carol “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” One line of that song states, “Come, Desire of Nations, come! Fix in us Thy humble home.” The “Desire of Nations” in Charles Wesley’s hymn is clearly speaking of Jesus as Messiah.
However, the Hebrew word khemdah is a collective singular, meaning the idea expressed is plural. The better translation is “desired” or “what is desired.” Haggai 2:8 provides the parallel that identifies these desired objects: “‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty.” The desired objects are most likely earthly treasures, not the coming Messiah.
Other translations render the Hebrew word as “the wealth” (NASB, CEB), “the precious things” (ASV), “the treasure” (NRSV), and “the treasures” (ESV, CEV). The idea is that the riches of all nations will be brought to the temple in Jerusalem.
Haggai 2:9 says, “The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former.” The former glory refers to that of Solomon’s temple, which was an opulent structure. Haggai predicts a temple that will be even more glorious than Solomon’s: the latter glory would be greater due to the wealth of the nations pouring in.
When will this happen? The beginning of verse 7 helps identify this future occasion. The Lord says it will happen when He “shakes all nations”; that is, after a time of judgment on the world. God has shaken nations in the past (Psalm 99:1; Isaiah 64:2; Habakkuk 3:6), and He will do so again when Jesus Christ returns to the earth (Joel 3:16; Matthew 24:30).
Hebrews 12:26 cites Haggai 2:7, followed by an explanation that, after this “shaking,” believers will receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken. This is a clear reference to the future millennial kingdom that Jesus will establish when He returns at the end of seven years of tribulation. Therefore, this portion of Haggai’s prediction is yet unfulfilled.
Some interpreters suggest that the text may concern both the Messiah and earthly riches. In the end, what is desired of the nations will come: a Savior, the Messiah, and tribute will be paid to Him during His millennial reign.