Handel’s “Messiah”, A Prophetic Masterwork – Part 2, A Prophetic Warning

11 October 2022

5.2 MINS

Handel’s Messiah draws on scriptural prophecies of a time of persecution, which will be followed by a great revival and the coming of Christ.

In the first article of this series, I gave an introduction to what I believe is not only one of the greatest and most enduring works of art of all time, but a work that possesses a powerful prophetic anointing through the text having been taken entirely from Scripture, as well as the pure genius of the music which illuminates the text.

I also made a case for the fact that, no different to the hymns which have graced the church over the past 350 years right up to the present and contemporary songs from Hillsong, Bethel, Elevation, and a host of notable others, Messiah is equally inspired and inspirational praise and worship set to music.

The first portion of Messiah that I covered included the orchestral Overture and three vocal settings of Isaiah 40:1-5, which, as I noted, through these the prophetic purpose of Messiah is established, and in a way that is consistent with the function and purpose of prophecy in the New Testament.


Now, from the rallying cry of comfort, and the encouragement offered by that passage in Isaiah, we take a sharp turn into something that is jarring by comparison, from “the glory of the Lord shall be revealed” to a time to come where everything is turned upside-down and shaken violently, including God’s people.

But this time to come, in the context in which Charles Jennens has juxtaposed Isaiah with Haggai and Malachi, clearly precedes what we’ve already seen in Isaiah 40:1-5.

Here are the passages as they are set in Messiah:

Thus saith the Lord, the Lord of Hosts:
“Yet once a little while and I will shake the heav’ns and the earth, the sea and the dry land: And I will shake all nations; and the desire of all nations shall come.”
(Haggai 2:6-7)

The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the Covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire. And He shall purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
(Malachi 3:1-3)

When God, through Haggai, says, “yet once a little while”, this is what points to this prophecy being fulfilled at a time prior to the righting of all wrongs, “the crooked made straight”, and “the glory of the Lord” being “revealed”.

We should also note that the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews also saw this time as being yet to come. In Hebrews 12, he reminds his readers of the account of Moses and the children of Israel at Mount Sinai, when he contrasts the shaking that occurred when Yahweh thundered from the mountaintop with the shaking predicted in Haggai:

“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.”

This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” (Hebrews 12:26-27 NASB)

So what does this point to? I believe that it points to a time of severe trials and testing through persecution, how extreme I just don’t know. But that the persecution will precede a time where God will “shake the heav’ns and the earth, the sea and the dry land: … all nations; and the desire of all nations shall come.”

Recent Developments

By now we should not be unaware of the gradual drift across the West in this post-Christian age we find ourselves in. As the recent issue of Andrew Thorburn and Essendon Football Club has shown us, and as Thorburn noted in his public statement,

“It became clear to me that my personal Christian faith is not tolerated or permitted in the public square, at least by some and perhaps by many.”

Because of this, we should not be surprised that persecution of a similar severity as is being experienced by Christians in other parts of the world is no longer unthinkable in the West. If this can happen to high-profile individuals, then what’s to stop that and worse being committed against any of us?

As for a violent “shaking” of “all nations”, the recent pandemic, coupled with the current war in Ukraine, should be sufficient warning, or at least an indication of the fact, that such a shaking of the global economic and political order is now conceivable.

But remember, Haggai tells us that the outcome of that “shaking” will be that “the desire of all nations shall come”. And when you look at that whole passage, you see the outcome of God’s deeply laid plan:

“For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts.

‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.”

The purpose of the shaking is to turn their desire from material things to “the Desire of all Nations” — Jesus. The greatest “shaking in history” will result in the greatest revival in history.

But that’s why we need to be “purified”, as Malachi records: “that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.”

So, keep these current issues, as well as the potential for more, in mind as you listen to the three excerpts from Messiah.

Musical Considerations

But first, a short note on the audio excerpts I’ve selected. I’ve hinted in other articles that more than twenty years ago the Lord gave me a revelation regarding that future “shaking”, as well as the “refiner’s fire” that precedes it. And the time will come for me to give that in full, but for now, I thought it appropriate to give you the excerpts from my own CD collection which I was listening to at the time. The CD set these are lifted from, I have treasured for almost 40 years.

Also, I’m sure there are some listening who have never heard a male alto singing in “falsetto”, so an explanation is required. In Handel’s day there were male singers called “castrati”, the reason for the name I’m sure I don’t need to elaborate, especially to the men reading this.

The result of that surgical procedure was the lack of development of the larynx, which remained the size of a child’s, but with the lung volume of an adult male, which resulted in a male singer with a classical male singing voice equivalent to that of a soprano, mezzo-soprano or contralto, but with the power of delivery of an adult male.

These days there are specialist singers, primarily covering the contralto range, who are baritonal in their normal speaking voice, but have trained falsetto voices singing contralto. As a baritone myself, and having been the head chorister in the Bass section of my Anglican school choir, I can tell you that it doesn’t come easily, and those like the soloist in the recording here undergo years of training.

I love the voice, though my wife can’t stand it. For me, in this recording, whenever he sings, “For He is like a refiner’s fire,” there is a sound in his voice of cold, sharp steel, and the words cut through, “even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit” (Hebrews 4:12 NASB). See what you think.


Photo by Ramazan Karaoglanoglu.


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