As we end chapter 12 of Hebrews, the author closes his instruction of how to live by encouraging and warning us at the same time to live in the Kingdom of God.
25 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. 26 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.” 27 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. 28 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; 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
In reading the scriptures, I continue to learn the importance of and what it means to live in God’s Kingdom. Our culture and tradition dictates that heaven and the Kingdom of God aren’t here and now but later after we die; the bible tells us differently. Again, here is an example of God’s Kingdom being available now for us to live in. In reading this passage, I envision a simple picture of the ground having this huge circle drawn on it and everyone inside the circle is safe and everyone outside isn’t. The ground begins to tremble and shake with the biggest earthquake the world has ever seen. The people inside the circle stand and watch as those outside cry out and scramble for the circle as they realize those in the circle were right, but they cannot get in now because it is too late.
We don’t like discussing these things because they tend to be too offensive, but quite honestly God has and is giving us plenty of time to make the choice He has given us. Interestingly enough, we see that heaven will also be shaken. All the loose leaves in the tree will fall from the sky (meaning the demons and spirits that are not of God’s Kingdom). The “fire and brimstone” approach to teaching God’s word has been avoided in recent times except by a select few because it has proven to be a bit ineffective in winning people to Christ. The problem with that avoidance is that we cut out parts of the bible and ignore them. However, the point is clear: see to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. This, of course, refers to Jesus Christ as the verse goes on to explain how His first warning came while He was on earth and the last will come from Him in heaven. Yet, to show the balance between fire and brimstone and the message of love, we see the kind of “fear” that the author is trying to call us to.
Verse 28 reveals that our fear and trembling of God should revolve around reverence and awe. In studying the bible, we get to learn about the depth of God’s mercy and love. It is through understanding the implications of our sinfulness and what He has done despite our separation from Him that we can begin to appreciate His majesty. The beginning of verse 28 indicates that we receive His kingdom. Being able to live in God’s Kingdom is a gift. This ability is possible through the Holy Spirit. God hands us the key to be His heir in the Kingdom and we take it, gaining access to all that He has. Jesus is the key, but in gratitude we must accept the key and with faith put it in the lock and turn it in order to enter.
Our relationship with God is our walk through His kingdom. It is built on a solid foundation and when everything else crumbles, it is the only thing that will be left standing. Usually we visualize this as physical places, but this analogy goes far beyond what we can see. This is a spiritual vision; people will crumble because of spiritual depravity around us and we will not be shaken because we have the surety of being residents of God’s Kingdom. Will you be shaken?