Text: Hebrews 12:27
In the context here there is a contrast between then and now. An ongoing contrast between the experiences at Sinai and those enjoyed in the New Testament administration of the gospel. However, there are aspects of the experience of Israel at Sinai that are not to be overlooked but carefully applied to NT believers.
In this regard it is interesting that in our text the Apostle uses the words of Haggai 2:6 which relates to now—i.e. the present age and how it will end. Here is what lies ahead for this world. The physical, temporary aspects of the created order are to be shaken to the core so that those things that are eternal will remain.
I GOD MANIFESTS HIS POWER AS HE SHAKES THE ELEMENTS.
The ancient history of events at Sinai is invoked to demonstrate this point.
- He shakes the earth by His word. Cp Exodus 19:18. This has the effect of highlighting the mighty power of God! He speaks and the earth is convulsed! However, it also focuses attention upon the character of His word. At Sinai God revealed His Law in a fuller, codified form for mankind. The earth shook before the words of the Lawgiver/Judge. It is this role that is in the background to the events spoken of by Haggai. Christ is returning to Judge and the earth will shake. The same Law will be in effect! There will be at that point a greater shaking than ever occurred at Sinai, v26. More than a localized convulsion will occur! Cp Isaiah 2:19, 21, 24:20, Revelation 6:13.
- God’s people are taught these things to make them aware of the true character of God. God’s people can forget what God is! Many are so enamoured of New Testament privileges that they overlook the truth that our God is a consuming fire. Cp Deut 4:24. Just as the Divine presence was indicated by a fire that consumed part of Sinai, so the Lord will, as Judge, come to shake, sift and consume. The ongoing shaking of the earth by the hand of God in earthquakes is simply a reminder of His terrible power.
II THE CHRISTIAN HAS A HOPE THAT CANNOT BE SHAKEN.
- The day when God shakes the earth terribly will reveal the things that cannot be shaken. It is a day in which everything temporal will be tested. Cp Matthew 7:27, Isaiah 28:16. What a storm of testing is coming on the earth! All that is merely of the earth/temporal will fall. Every refuge and form of spiritual security that men have constructed for themselves apart from Christ will come crashing down. Now it is hard to tell exactly what will survive that day – but when the day comes true and complete judgment will determine who shall stand.
- This will be the time when the saints of God receive the kingdom, Hebrews 12:28. See also Daniel 7:18, 21-22, Matt 25:34, Luke 19:12.
- This is the eternal, abiding portion of God’s people. Cp Daniel 2:44. Here is a hope/kingdom that survives all temporal things—even after the millennial earth gives way to the eternal state. Cp 1 Corinthians 15:24-28, Revelation 21:1-8.
Nothing can shake the Christian out of their possession in Christ! The words of the Saviour in Luke 21:25-28 indicate this very confidence! See also Romans 8:38-39.
III THIS HOPE IS TO MOTIVATE PRESENT ACTIVITY.
1. God’s voice is to be heeded. Cp v25. He is to be heeded as the One who spoke from the Mt. Sinai! The lesson of a shaking earth is that God is to be heard, listened to and obeyed. The devastation of earthquake zones is to impress God’s people with the need to hear God’s word; get back to His laws; back to holy living; and live in the light of the day of judgment.
2. God’s people are to serve:
- Acceptably. Cp 2 Corinthians 5:9. It is to be our concern to please God at all times.
- With reverence. A sense of shame, modesty—cast down eyes. The term refers to our view of self in the light of what God is. A consciousness of personal unworthiness and ‘shyness’ before the great and terrible God (Nehemiah 1:5).
- Godly fear. A leading thought in the word used here is of caution. A cautious walk, carefully picking our steps through this world because of a recognition of what God is. That is the fear of God!
Cp 2 Peter 3:11-12. The devastation that is coming on the earth as it gives way to the new heavens and new earth, is a stimulus to holiness of life. So too is the fact that Christians have an unshakable hope in the midst of all this, 1 John 3:2-3.
3. To this end they are to seek grace. Only grace can prepare us for that day when God shakes the earth! The gospel revelation made at Sinai emphasized the same point! Preparation to meet God has never been by Law-keeping but by faith in the revealed work of redemption accomplished by Christ. This of course formed the vast bulk of what God spoke from Sinai. Cp Galatians 3:19-20. This has been the Apostle’s theme right through this epistle—the gospel revelation of the Levitical economy seen in the types and shadows, all pointing forward to Christ’s work, which God gave Israel at that time.
Have you been sobered by these earthquakes to reflect upon what is coming on the earth; and to live a holy, joyful life of service assured of the unshakable hope that God has given you in Christ?