Robert Griffith | 13 April 2024
Robert Griffith
13 April 2024

 

Hebrews 12:26-29   “At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken – that is, created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.’”

Do the current events in our world, which include protracted wars, racial turmoil, political and social unrest, and economic uncertainty, frighten you? Every earthly foundation seems to be trembling. Where is the level ground?

The author of Hebrews cautions against rejecting the counsel given because we will not escape if we reject the one who is warning us from heaven any more than they did when they rejected the one who was warning them on earth.

This passage’s underlying presumption – and a clear lesson  to us today – is that God is speaking through the shaking of all things. Why is He upending the entire planet we live in?  Is it possible that we have been placing our trust in the wrong things?

Our lives are based on fragile foundations, yet we are unaware of this until those foundations are shattered.  Take another look at the Hebrews passage above. The ground trembled at that moment, but now He has vowed to shake not just the earth but the skies as well. The words “once more” denote the removal of created things, or anything that can be shaken, to make room for what cannot be shaken.

To put it another way, God is purposefully causing the erroneous foundations we have been standing on to collapse so that we might learn what remains when everything around us crumbles. When the author of Hebrews states, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ he is actually referencing the Old Testament prophet Haggai. (Haggai 2:6-7a)

It doesn’t take a prophet or a deep study of the Bible to recognise that the foundations of our world are shaking. If you go back to Haggai’s prophecy, you’ll see that he anticipated the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who would shake up the entire world!  Isn’t that what Christ’s arrival accomplished? Everything was transformed by Jesus’  life, death and resurrection. It split history in two, literally, A.D. and B.C. It is the most significant occurrence in human history.

History is filled with dangerous cycles of uncertain and turbulent periods when God would shake the heavens and the earth, causing chaos and confusion. The fact that God is the one shaking things, is one of the passage’s consoling aspects for me. God causes the earth to tremble. He causes a tremor among humanity.

It appears beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are living in one of those seismic periods right now. Everything that we would often regard as solid and stable is collapsing. We are constantly being offered contradicting information by “experts,” which has made us question how “hard” science actually is. We no longer trust science to provide us with an answer and when most people don’t trust God, the result is calamity.

Our culture and faith in leaders have been rocked by the collapse of human government and racial relations. The markets, which swing like a roller coaster and deplete savings and retirement accounts, defy economists’ explanations. The one thing that social media was meant to do – connect us – has instead driven us apart and set us against each other. We yearn to engage with people, yet we withdraw within our houses out of dread, never knowing when it will be safe to leave.

Even the church has been shaken, or at least the perception that many people held of the church – a facility that is empty in so many places these days. Why is that taking happening? What in the world is God doing?

Reviewing this Hebrews passage gives me hope. God permits the shaking to occur so that what is immovable can once more be seen by humans. Look again at verses 28 & 29. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.”

Out of the shaking is coming a realisation of the things which remain and cannot be shaken because they are based upon the decree of God, the Creator. The Bible speaks of an invincible kingdom. It is the kingdom of God that Jesus came to establish in our hearts, so that a follower of Christ need not worry when the foundations of this world are shaken or even demolished completely! Instead, we should be grateful for what we have: that which is timeless, unchangeable, and unshakeable!

The things we see on a daily basis can be terrifying. But we can worship God with reverence and awe, instead of being afraid of what is shaking around us. Warren Wiersbe put it best a few years ago when he wrote:

“What shall we do as we live in a shaking world? Listen to God speak and obey Him. Receive grace day by day to serve Him ‘with reverence and godly fear.’ Do not be distracted or frightened by the tremendous changes going on around you. Keep running the race with endurance. Keep looking to Jesus Christ. Remember that your Father loves you. And draw on God’s enabling grace. While others are being frightened, you can be confident!” The enormous changes occurring all around you should not divert your attention or cause you fear. Continue to run the race with stamina. Never take your eyes off of Jesus Christ. Never forget how much your father loves you. And rely on the enabling grace of God. You can be confident while others are terrified!”

That gives me hope and optimism in a world that is shaking. I hope it does for you too.