December 13, 2015


Haggai 2:7 “‘I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty.”

Well! Reading this verse in the Japanese just removed it from my personal list of Messianic prophecies! Going with the King James Version, influenced by its use in The Messiah, I had always thought of “the desired of all nations” as being Christ, but the Japanese here renders that as “the treasures of all nations.” In context, that makes a lot more sense, particularly when the next verse focuses on silver and gold. It is interesting and at the same time sad when we build theology on such mis-translations. I recall my response to realizing that Isaiah 19:17, dearly loved by Pentecostals because the KJV says “the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing,” popularly rendered as, “the anointing breaks the yoke,” actually is talking about oxen becoming so fat and strong that their yokes break. The Bible has plenty of glorious truth in it without our twisting it to make it say what we want it to! I am reminded of C. S. Lewis’ famous line from The Great Divorce, to the effect that when we get to heaven, one thing we can be sure of is that we will all discover we were wrong somewhere! Trevor Chandler, a friend who was mightily used by the Lord in his native Australia but also came many times to minister in Japan, once shared with me that he discovered he had been wrong on a point of theology that he had taught in many churches. He didn’t tell me what that point was, but he said that he had to spend the next several years correcting that point and apologizing for it. Now he is before the Throne and has all his misunderstandings removed, but his example of humility is one I want to emulate.

The danger for me at the moment, when we are in the Christmas season that is filled with totally familiar Scriptures and images, is cynicism, particularly when I make such discoveries as I did just now about this Haggai passage. I remember with amusement the total shock of some nuns who were so sure there were three magi, but were counted wrong in a quiz that was part of an interdenominational Christmas program because the correct option was, “We don’t know the number.” The fact that there were three gifts has had us jumping to the conclusion that there were three magi for over a thousand years, but the actual text doesn’t make it clear. I must not be amused at the assumptions of others and dogmatic about my own! Today I will be leading this year’s interdenominational Christmas service, and I must not let familiarity block the flow of of the Spirit, the joy of the Lord, through me. That’s a real danger. The same thing applies as I bring the message at the interdenominational prayer breakfast on Wednesday. I am in need of the message of Christmas myself, even as I feel burned out at all the trappings of Christmas traditions. I need to be quiet enough before the Lord to allow Him to fill me with His Spirit, replacing my strength with His as I wait on Him, (Isaiah 40:31) so that His will may be done in and through me for His glory.

Father, thank You for all the opportunities You give me to share Your truth with others. May I always do so with joy and humility, never thinking that I’ve got it all together but depending on You, so that nothing will get in the way of what You want to do, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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