Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens - When the law was given on Mount Sinai, there was an earthquake that shook the whole mountain, Exodus 19:18. "The political or religious revolutions which were to be effected in the world, or both, are here," says Abp. Newcome, "referred to; compare Exodus 19:21, Exodus 19:22; Matthew 24:29; Hebrews 12:26-28. The political ones began in the overthrow of the Persian monarchy by Alexander, within two centuries after this prediction; and if the Messiah's kingdom be meant, which is my opinion, this was erected in somewhat more than five centuries after the second year of Darius; a short period of time when compared with that which elapsed from the creation to the giving of the law, or from the giving of the law to the coming of the Messiah's kingdom. It must be understood that the word אחת achath, once, has a clear sense, if understood of the evangelical age; for many political revolutions succeeded, as the conquest of Darius Codomanus, and the various fortunes of Alexander's successors; but only one great and final religious revolution." - Newcome.
Yet once, it is a little while - This, the rendering of Paul to the Hebrews, is alone grammatical. “Yet once.” By the word yet he looks back to the first great shaking of the moral world, when God‘s revelation by Moses and to His people broke upon the darkness of the pagan world, to be a monument against pagan error until Christ should come; once looks on, and conveys that God would again shake the world, but once only, under the one dispensation of the Gospel, which should endure to the end.
It is a little while - o“The 517 years, which were to elapse to the birth of Christ, are called a little time, because to the prophets, ascending in heart to God and the eternity of God, all times, like all things of this world, seem, as they are, only a little thing, yea a mere point;” which has neither length nor breadth. So John calls the time of the new law, “the last hour” 1 John 2:18, “Little children, it is the last hour.” It was little also in respect to the time, which had elapsed from the fall of Adam, upon which God promised the Saviour Christ Genesis 3:15, little also in respect to the Christian law, which has now lasted above 1,800 years, and the time of the end does not seem yet near.
I will shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land - It is one universal shaking of all this our world and the heavens over it, of which the prophet speaks. He does not speak only of Luke 21:25 “signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars,” which might be, and yet the frame of the world itself might remain. It is a shaking, such as would involve the dissolution of this our system, as Paul draws out its meaning; Hebrews 12:27. “This word, once more, signifieth the removing of the things that are shaken, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” Prophecy, in its long perspective, uses a continual foreshortening, speaking of things in relation to their eternal meaning and significance, as to that which shall survive, when heaven and earth and even time shall have passed away. It blends together the beginning and the earthly end; the preparation and the result; the commencement of redemption and its completion; our Lord‘s coming in humility and in His Majesty. Scarcely any prophet but exhibits things in their intrinsic relation, of which time is but an accident.
It is the rule, not the exception. The Seed of the woman, who should bruise the serpent‘s head, was promised on the fall: to Abraham, the blessing through his seed; by Moses, the prophet like unto him; to David, an everlasting covenant 2 Samuel 23:5. Joel unites the out-pouring of the Spirit of God on the Day of Pentecost, and the hatred of the world until the Day of Judgment Joel 2:28-32; Isaiah 66:22-24, Daniel, the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes, of Anti-Christ, and the Resurrection; Obadiah 1:18-21. Zephaniah, the punishment of Judah and the final judgment of the earth. Malachi, our Lord‘s first and second coming Malachi 3:1-5, Malachi 3:17-18; Malachi 4:1-6.
Nay, our Lord Himself so blends together the destruction of Jerusalem and the days of Anti-Christ and the end of the world, that it is difficult to separate them, so as to say what belongs exclusively to either The prophecy is an answer to two distinct questions of the Apostles,
(1) “When shall these things (namely, the destruction of the temple) be?”
(2) “And what shall be the sign of Thy coming and of the end of the world?” Our Lord answers the two questions in one. Some things seem to belong to the first coming, as Matthew 24:15-16, “the abomination of desolation spoke of by Daniel,” and the flight from Matthew 24:24 “Judea into the mountains.” But the exceeding deceivableness is authoritatively interpreted by Paul 2Thes Matthew 5:2-10. of a distant time; and our Lord Himself, having said that “all these things,” of which the Apostles had inquired, should take place in that generation Mark 13:30 speaks of His absence as of a man taking a far journey Mark 13:3, and says that “not the angels in heaven knew that hour, neither the Son Mark 13:32, which precludes the idea, that He had just before declared that the whole would take place in that generation. For this would be to make out, that He declared that the Son knew not the hour of His Coming, which He had just (on this supposition) declared to be in that generation.
So then, here. There was a general shaking upon earth before our Lord came. Empires rose and fell. The Persian fell before Alexander‘s; Alexander‘s world-empire was ended by his sudden death in youth; of his four successors, two only continued, and they too fell before the Romans; then were the Roman civil wars, until, under Augustus, the temple of Janus was shut. “For it greatly beseemed a work ordered by God, that many kingdoms should be confederated in one empire, and that the universal preaching might find the peoples easily accessible who were held under the rule of one state.” In the heavens was the star, which led the wise men, the manifestation of Angels to the shepherds; the preternatural darkness at the Passion; the Ascension into the highest heaven, and the descent of the Holy Spirit with Acts 2:2, “a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind.” “God had moved them (heaven and earth) before, when He delivered the people from Egypt, when there was in heaven a column of fire, dry ground amid the waves, a wall in the sea, a path in the waters, in the wilderness there was multiplied a daily harvest of heavenly food (the manna), the rock gushed into fountains of waters. But He moved it afterward also in the Passion of the Lord Jesus, when the heaven was darkened, the sun shrank back, the rocks were rent. the graves opened, the dead were raised, the dragon, conquered in his waters, saw the fishers of men, not only sailing in the sea, but also walking without peril. The dry ground also was moved, when the unfruitful people of the nations began to ripen to a harvest of devotion and faith - so that “more were the children of the forsaken, than of her which had a husband,” and Isaiah 35:1. “the desert flourished like a lily”. “He moved earth in that great miracle of the birth from the Virgin: He moved the sea and dry land, when in the islands and in the whole world Christ is preached. So we see all nations moved to the faith.”
And yet, whatever preludes of fulfillment there were at our Lord‘s first coming, they were as nothing to the fulfillment which we look for in the second, “when Isaiah 24:19-20 the earth shall be utterly broken down; the earth, clean dissolved; the earth, moved exceedingly; the earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a hanging-cot in a vineyard and the transgression thereof is heavy upon it; and it shall fall and not rise again;” whereon follows an announcement of the final judgment of men and angels, and the everlasting kingdom of the blessed in the presence of God.
Of that “day of the Lord,” Peter uses our Lord‘s image, Matthew 24:43. that it shall 2 Peter 3:10. come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works therein shall be burned up.”
It will not be long until the gathering storm will burst upon the world that is so asleep in sin.... When the earth is reeling to and fro like a drunkard, when the heavens are shaking, and the great day of the Lord has come, who shall be able to stand? One object they behold in trembling agony from which they will try in vain to escape. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him” (Revelation 1:7). The unsaved utter wild imprecations to dumb nature—their god: “Mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne’” (Revelation 6:16). TMK 356.2Read in context »
13. Reproof Changed to Encouragement—It was after Haggai's second message that the people felt that the Lord was in earnest with them. They dared not disregard the repeated warning that their prosperity and the blessing of God were dependent upon their entire obedience to the instructions given them. As soon as they decided that they would do the words of the Lord, His messages of reproof changed to words of encouragement. O how merciful a God we have! He says, “I am with you.” The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. He assured the people that if they were obedient, they would place themselves in a position where He could bless them for His own name's glory. If God's people will only rely upon Him, and believe in Him, He will bless them (Manuscript 116, 1897). 4BC 1176.1
1-9, 11, 12. Parables Showing What God Endorses—In speaking of the building of a house for God, the prophet Haggai shows in parables what God endorses and what He condemns. 4BC 1176.2Read in context »