“See to it that you do not refuse Him Who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him Who warns from Heaven. 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.”
The Greek word for speaking in this context means communicating doctrine and refers to Jesus Christ when He communicated the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai to Moses. The same Person Who spoke to Moses had also spoken to the writer of Hebrews through the Holy Spirit. Now the writer of Hebrews was speaking to the Jews in Jerusalem in 67 A.D. Therefore, we see the exhortation to listen.
There was no escape for those who rejected the message from Moses. The Jews’ reversionism had divine consequences and we can read in the Old Testament how it played out through national disaster throughout their history. God must discipline His children regardless of the dispensation. When the Jews at Mount Sinai rejected God’s communicator Moses and could not bear to hear any more of the Law, they could not avoid divine discipline. Their negative volition toward the Law of Moses (Bible doctrine) after enjoying freedom from Egypt was a sign of their reversionistic state. God in His grace was providing for them the doctrine they needed as a nation to succeed and prosper, but in their arrogance they rejected Jehovah (Jesus Christ) in favor of idols. If in the past God disciplined reversionism (and He did), why would these believers in Jerusalem in 67 A.D. think that He would not discipline them? That was the question the writer of Hebrews was posing.
Christ when giving the Ten Commandments to Moses “shook the earth.” His voice was so strong that it literally shook the earth. The voice of God caused a little earthquake and everything shook, and it also shook their souls because of their reversionism. They could not take the divine standard Moses was giving them in the Law.
Now He has promised is followed by a quotation from Haggai 2:6 referring to the Second Coming of Christ and the regathering of Israel. We can see why it was quoted at this point. There was an earthquake at Mount Sinai. The earthquake on Mount Sinai was not only the means of communicating the doctrine to the Jews, it was a warning of divine discipline. The shaking of the earth warned them of historical disaster (like they had experienced in Egypt) if they failed to turn back to God. The point was that the historical disaster which was warned by the earthquake is nothing compared to the historical disaster in the future at the end of the Tribulation. At the battle of Armageddon the entire earth is going to be shaken, not just a portion of the earth. Haggai 2:6 describes these events which accompany the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Those things which cannot be shaken refers to the Kingdom of God. Once a person believes in Jesus Christ, regardless of the dispensation, they cannot lose their salvation (cannot be shaken), they are part of the Kingdom of God. So, spiritual things remain at the end of the Tribulation. Unbelievers, Satan, demons, the earth and the sea can be shaken, but spiritual things cannot be. Since believers possess spiritual things, they will not be shaken at this time, but will go into the Millennium and eventually to Heaven to be with the Lord forever.
The Bible makes many references to both the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. Is there a difference in the two, and if so, what are those differences? An examination of Scripture and the various passages where these two terms appear should help us determine their meanings.
The Kingdom of God is God’s eternal kingdom to which every believer belongs from all dispensations. It is God’s spiritual kingdom, which is entered only through salvation by faith alone in Christ. (Matthew 6:33; Luke 13:28-29; John 3:3-7; Hebrews 12:22-23) Within that kingdom there is the Kingdom of Heaven or the kingdom of the heavens. The Kingdom of Heaven is only part of the entire Kingdom of God, and refers to the millennial reign of Jesus Christ on earth.
It is this earthly kingdom that was announced by John the Baptist and offered to Israel by Jesus Christ and rejected by the Jewish nation. Since it was rejected and the Messiah crucified, the Kingdom of Heaven was postponed until after the Tribulation. Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven and the Millennium are the same period of time. This period will be the time when David’s “greater Son,” Jesus Christ, will rule on earth. It is a time when all the covenants to Israel will be fulfilled. It is a time of peace and prosperity. (Matthew 3:1-3; Luke 1:31-33; Zechariah 12:8; II Samuel 7:7-10)
When John announced that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand, it simply meant that the Messianic Ruler was on the scene and ready to set up His kingdom on earth. Even the disciples of Jesus thought that the Kingdom of Heaven was going to be set up at that time. (Acts 1:6) In Matthew 13 Jesus teaches the multitudes about the Kingdom of Heaven in parables. So these parables and their meanings apply only to the Millennium, not to the Church Age. The nation of Israel rejected Jesus as Messiah and with the assistance of the Romans fulfilled prophecy by crucifying the Savior. (Matthew 27) Therefore, we see that there is a difference between the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. The first is a spiritual kingdom and the second is an earthly kingdom. Both, of course, are God’s kingdoms.
“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”
These two verses explain the reason for using the Old Testament quote from Haggai. The Jewish believers in Jerusalem should have had a personal sense of destiny. They should have had great hope in the future. God had promised them so much through their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David and many, many more. And yet they had traded a life under the New Covenant of grace for the old covenant of law. These verses are a final appeal from the writer to show gratitude for what God had provided in Christ and reverse their course in favor of Bible doctrine.
Gratitude is a matter of having the right attitude. And attitude is everything! Knowing who we are and what we have as a result of being in union with Jesus Christ should cause us to be grateful. As we grow spiritually our gratitude will also grow. If we understand that our lives are in God’s hands and that He will direct our paths (if we choose to allow Him to) we can have gratitude in any circumstance of life. (Colossians 2:6-8) Our attitude is a mirror into our soul. God’s Word is very clear on this subject. We are told time and again throughout the Scriptures that we are to do everything without grumbling and complaining. (Philippians 2:14-15)
We must also learn to be grateful for even the hardships in life. Quite often these situations are used by God to teach us valuable lessons. They can also reveal areas of weakness with which we need to deal. How we handle these hardships can be a springboard to advance us in the Christian Way of Life by increasing our faith in God and our dependence upon God. A life of gratitude also prepares us for gratitude in death. (I Corinthians 15:54-57; I Thessalonians 5:18)
You will recall the story of the children of Israel in the wilderness. It took them 40 years to make an 11-day trip. Why? Because they had bad attitudes! They continually complained to Moses and blamed God for everything they didn’t like along the way. The result was that they were not allowed to enter the Promised Land. (Book of Numbers)
An attitude of gratitude and an attitude of grumbling, complaining and fault-finding are mutually exclusive. Our attitude lets us know whether or not we are trusting God in every situation. Life is not always easy, but trusting God should be. (Ephesians 4:29-32)
When we complain, we are voicing dissatisfaction and discontentment with our situation to God. Therefore, we are complaining about what He is or is not doing, instead of trusting Him and using the Faith-Rest Technique. When we have a complaining and worried attitude we are actually criticizing God, which is the height of human arrogance! We cannot be trusting God and complaining and worrying at the same time.
Remember that many situations that we face are of our own doing, not God’s. God however will often use these situations to teach us valuable lessons. And God is always there to help us through these situations. An attitude of faith brings victory in every trial or test we face. If we pass the test with a good attitude, we have benefited ourselves. God never tests us beyond what we can handle, but we don’t know what we can handle until He tests us. And just because we can handle our situation doesn’t mean that we will handle it correctly. Proper application of the truth that we have learned from the Word of God is the key to victory in any test. (I Corinthians 10:13; I Thessalonians 5:18; I Peter 4:12-14)
A part of gratitude is being content with what you have. God warns against a lustful attitude and encourages us to be satisfied with what He has already provided. His promise to all believers is that He will never leave us nor forsake us. God knows even before it happens what each of us will face in life, and He has made every provision for us. Our responsibility is to exercise our faith by always giving thanks regardless of circumstances, knowing that God is working things out to benefit us. (Philippians 4:11; Ephesians 5:20; Romans 8:28)
An acceptable service in Hebrews 12:29, means a reasonable service as in Romans 12:1-2. It doesn’t mean running around doing things in the name of God. A reasonable service to God is the production of divine good by means of the study and application of Bible doctrine under the filling of the Holy Spirit. Serving God means obeying His mandates and living by the principles of the Word of God without compromise.
Reverence and awe means a healthy respect for God and His Word. Contrary to what many people think about God, He is not only a loving Father, He is a Father Who will also discipline His children when they disobey Him.
When we make the choice to know Jesus Christ not only as our Savior, but also as the standard to which we are to achieve as believers, we will discover the right attitude that we are to exhibit. Christ’s obedience to the Father’s plan is an example to us that we are to do the same. Christ did not complain about or find fault with the Father’s plan. His attitude was one of humility and obedience. Jesus Christ had a personal sense of destiny. He knew exactly what the plan of God entailed and willingly executed it. We should be grateful that He did, because it was for our benefit, not only for our salvation, but also as an example of how to live our spiritual lives. (Philippians 2:5-16)