“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.’” Hebrews 12:26-29 (NIV)
Are you shaken by the things going on in our world today – a prolonged pandemic, racial unrest, political and social strife coupled with economic uncertainty. It seems that every foundation on earth is being shaken. Where is there stable ground?
The writer of Hebrews offers this advice with a warning, “See that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape if we reject Him who warns from heaven.” Hebrews 12:25 (RSV)
The assumption in this passage, and the clear message for today, is that God is speaking through the shaking of all things. Why is He shaking everything up in our world? Could it be that we have been putting our confidence in the wrong things? We have built our lives on things that can be shaken, but it isn’t until those things are shaken that we realize it. Look at what the Bible says in Hebrews 12:26-27 again, “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.”
In other words, God is intentionally allowing the false foundations we have been standing on to be shaken so we can discover that which remains, the things that cannot be shaken. The writer of Hebrews is actually quoting the Old Testament prophet, Haggai, when he says, “In just a little while I will again shake the heavens and the earth, the oceans and the dry land. I will shake all the nations. …” Haggai 2:6-7a (NLT)
You don’t have to be a bible scholar or a prophet to see that we are experiencing a global shaking. If you look back to the prophecy of Haggai, you’ll find that he was looking forward to the coming of the Messiah, the coming of Jesus Christ, that would shake up the whole world! Isn’t that what the coming of Christ did? The Resurrection of Jesus changed everything. It literally split history into A.D. and B.C. It’s the most important event in human history.
History records repeated cycles of perilous times when God would shake the earth and the heavens, and things would be upset and confused, times of uncertainty and upheaval. One of the comforting things I find in this passage is that God is the one doing the shaking. God shakes the earth. He shakes up the people on the earth. And there seems to be little doubt that we are in one of those shaking times today. All that we would normally have considered strong and steady is being shaken and overthrown. Daily we are told conflicting news from “experts” that has left us doubting how “hard” science really is. Our trust in science for an answer has been shaken. The breakdown in human government and racial relations has shaken our culture and trust in leaders. Economists don’t have an answer for the markets that fluctuate like a roller coaster wiping out savings and retirement accounts. Social media that was intended to connect us has only served to divide us more. We long to interact with others but we shelter in fear, confined in our homes not knowing when it will be safe to get out. Even the church has been shaken, or at least the idea of what many have had of the church as a place where you go, a building that, more often than not, remains empty today. Why is it happening? What is God up to?
As you review this passage in Hebrews, there is hope. God allows the shaking to come in order that what cannot be shaken may again become visible to men. Look at verses 28 and 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.’”
Pastor and author, Ray Stedman, says, “Out of the shaking is coming a realization of the things which remain and cannot be shaken because they are based upon the fiat of God, the decrees of the Creator.” The bible describes an unshakable kingdom. It’s the kingdom Jesus came to establish in our hearts, the kingdom of God so that when the foundations of this world are destroyed the Christ follower need not fear! Rather, we can be thankful that we have been given that which can never be shaken, that which is eternal and unchanging!
The things we are witnessing daily are frightening. But rather than fearing that which is being shaken around us, we can worship God with reverence and awe. I think Warren Wiersbe summed it up well in a comment I recently read. “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!”
That gives me hope and stability in a shaking world. Take heart child of God. You have an unshakable kingdom!