Welcome back to our study of Hebrews; today we’ll focus on Hebrews 12:18-29. We discussed in our previous session what the appropriate response should be when we are disciplined by the Lord. In today’s session, we’ll talk about the end purpose of the discipline of the Lord, a kingdom that cannot be shaken.
How does the unshakable kingdom of the Lord come about?
The Passage: Hebrews 12:18-29
A Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken
18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly[a] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25 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 will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
- Verses 18-21
The writer is giving his readers and us the reason why we ought to rejoice even in the midst of the discipline of the Lord. The original hearers understood his point very clearly. In Hebrews 4:14-16, we read the following
18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”
In verses 18 through 21, the writer recalls the account of the people of Israel after their exodus from Egypt. God told Moses that HE was going to descend upon Mount Sinai, and the people had to consecrate themselves. But the Lord also gave them very strong warnings and restrictions, let’s go to Exodus 19
12 And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. 13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot;[a] whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.”
As gentiles, we don’t fully understand what this meant for the original readers. They were well acquainted with the Mount Sinai Exodus account. Only Moses was allowed on the mountain, the people were only allowed at the foot of the mountain. They saw the fire, the darkness, the tempest and the trumpet sound. They were consumed with fear and even Moses, though permitted access on the mountain ,was also fearful and rightfully so. But we need to know why the writer brings this up in chapter 12. He is once more contrasting the old covenant and the new; the people received the law under the Old covenant. They saw the physical manifestation of God on the mountain but they couldn’t get near, access was restricted. They understood the moral perfection of God, and their own moral filth was exposed. However, they couldn’t get close to God, only Moses had that experience. And this leads me to the other portion of Chapter 12, we’ll understand why the writer brings this argument up.
- Verses 22-24
While Mount Sinai was physical yet couldn’t be touched , the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of God isn’t physical but that’s where God Himself dwells. He doesn’t just manifest Himself in the heavenly Jerusalem, that’s where HE lives and dwells. The original readers understood the writer’s argument clearly. With the New Covenant, access into the very presence of God has been permitted because of the precious blood of Christ that has taken away our sins and guilt. We’ve been made acceptable to God and now He dwells in us through his Spirit and has given us access into the Holy Of Holies. Because of spiritual immaturity , we haven’t fully realized all the benefits that have been granted to us because of Jesus work on the cross. According to the scriptures above, we have been brought to the heavenly Jerusalem, into the presence of countless number of angels in festal gathering, the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, we have come to God, the judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus… That’s where the born again believer has been brought. All this because of Jesus who is the mediator of a better covenant, and His blood speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Abel’s blood screamed justice and vengeance according to Genesis while Jesus blood screams mercy, redemption, forgiveness of sins, peace with God.
Basically the writer’s point is, enjoy the discipline because its end purpose is fellowship with God, that we might share in His Holiness, this is the fruits of the discipline of God.
- Verses 25-29
The writer is now ending this chapter with more exhortations. He is reiterating a point that he already mentioned in chapter 2 (1-4). When the people of God disobeyed Him in the wilderness after receiving the Law, a great number perished and the Scripture tells us that with many of them God wasn’t pleased, and even swore on His wrath that they would not enter His rest. Since chapter 4, the writer has been saying to his readers and us not to harden our hearts if today we hear His voice ( if the Spirit of God is speaking to us). If the people of old perished because they rejected Moses, how worse will it be for us if we reject God who speaks to us today, not only through all the records, but by His Spirit? The shaking of the earth at Mount Sinai was for the purpose of sifting for righteousness. According to the Scripture, God has promised to shake not only the earth but also the heavens so that the only things that remain are part of a kingdom that can no longer be shaken, that which pleases God. So God has promised to give us a kingdom that cannot be shaken ( because it is pleasing in His sight). Consequently this ought to encourage us to offer acceptable worship, Holy living, with reverence and awe. Why? Because God is a consuming fire, He will not put up with nonsense as we saw, HE will ensure that we live Holy lives.
Originally posted on Tayibs.com