The Shaking Of The Nations: An Eschatological View -- By: John A. Kessler

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 30:2 (Jun 1987)
Article: The Shaking Of The Nations: An Eschatological View
Author: John A. Kessler


The Shaking Of The Nations:
An Eschatological View

John A. Kessler*

Haggai’s oracle concerning “the shaking of the nations” (Hag 2:7) has attracted the interest of exegetes throughout the centuries. It is widely held that his words refer to political convulsions and upheavals within or between the Gentile nations. The older, more traditional interpretation viewed the phrase in its primary sense as a prediction of the imminent breakup of the Persian empire and secondarily as having reference to the demise of the successive world empires in the Near East, culminating in the establishment of the messianic kingdom.1

More recently it has been maintained that the oracles of Hag 2:6–9, 20–23 are closely linked to the political events of 522-520 B.C. It is assumed that the “orgy of revolt”2 that broke out following the accession of Darius I provided Haggai with the assurance that the Persian empire was about to crumble and the glorious new age to begin.

The present essay maintains that both of these approaches are inadequate. Rather, Haggai’s words must be understood in light of the eschatological motifs upon which they draw. This study will therefore seek to demonstrate that “the shaking of the nations” is in fact the nations’ subjective response of incapacitating fear to Yahweh’s eschatological intervention. In Haggai’s scenario the ominous celestial and terrestrial portents and judgments that accompany the day of Yahweh will so terrify the nations that in panic and terror they will destroy each other’s armies and be reduced to impotence. Four considerations converge to buttress this conclusion.

I. Historical Evidence

Most commentators date Haggai’s prophecy in 520 B.C. (the second year of Darius, 1:1).3 According to P. R. Ackroyd, the rebellion of Nebuchadnezzar III

*John Kessler is associate professor of Old Testament at Ontario Bible College in Canada.

commenced about October 3, 522, and was crushed December 18 of the same year.4 The rebellion of Nebuchadnezzar IV then began about September 9, 521, and was subdued November 27,521. Thus “the re-acceptance of Darius I after the defeat of Nebuchadnezzar IV can be demonstrated from December 521 and January 520.”...

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