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Hebrews 12:26–29

“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, for our God is a consuming fire” (vv. 28–29).

God will not regard lightly those who fully and finally fall away from the faith by abandoning their profession of faith in Jesus and never returning to it. As the author of Hebrews tells us, since those who broke the old covenant did not escape divine judgment, those who violate the new covenant impenitently will certainly be judged as well (Heb. 12:18–25).

Hebrews 12:26 builds on this to convey the even greater judgment of covenant breakers that will come when Christ returns to consummate His kingdom. The author notes that when the old covenant was inaugurated, the voice of God shook the earth (see Ex. 19:18). This shaking conveyed the power of the Lord and warned the people against violating His standards. Yet, a greater display of God’s power is yet to come. As Hebrews 12:26 notes, the Lord will one day shake the heavens. The author quotes Haggai 2:6 in support of his argument. In context, Haggai refers to the coming of the Lord to save His people and receive the treasures of the nations. This eschatological (end times) prophecy began to see fulfillment with the advent of Jesus to atone for the sins of His people, and it will be fully realized in the return of Christ to judge creation and usher in the new heaven and earth. As Hebrews 12:27 goes on to explain, this shaking will remove that which is merely temporal and replace it with what is eternal—the new creation where the Lord will dwell with His people forever. If we are in Christ by faith alone, we will not be shaken and removed from God’s blessing on that great day, for in Jesus we partake of eternal life before His face (John 3:16). All those who are not in Christ will be shaken, never to experience God’s blessing (Rev. 21).

In light of the judgment to come, the only logical response is to be grateful that in Christ we have been brought into an unshakable kingdom. That means persevering in faith, continuing to trust in Jesus until the end of our lives, and never abandoning our profession. Since God is a consuming fire who will burn up all that is opposed to Him, gratefulness to the Lord also entails offering worship in reverence and awe (Heb. 12:28–29). Respect for the Lord’s holiness and awe that this same perfect Judge chooses to show us grace in Christ go hand in hand with true gratitude to our Creator. Those who really know God’s grace and glory in Christ will not fail to worship Him in the manner He deserves.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Noted evangelical scholar F.F. Bruce writes, “Reverence and awe before his holiness are not incompatible with grateful trust and love in response to his mercy.” God remains a consuming fire, so we must revere Him even under the new covenant. In fact, we have more reason to do so, for in Christ we better know the majesty of His character that allows Him, the perfect Judge of all, to forgive us.

For Further Study
  • Deuteronomy 4:24
  • Psalm 33:8

Heeding the One Who Speaks

God Is Holy

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From the August 2020 Issue
Aug 2020 Issue