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 shall 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. ” And this expression, “YET ONCE MORE,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Hebrews 12:25-27 (NAS)
Our next Old Testament quote found in Hebrews chapter twelve, verse twenty-six, builds upon the theme of the two mountains, physical Mount Sinai, and spiritual Mount Zion, introduced in the previous context of verses 18-24. Events at Sinai, as the presence of the LORD descended upon her peak, involved fire, smoke, thunder, lightening and trumpets. Also included was the whole mountain violently quaking as recorded in Exodus 23:18.
With Sinai serving as a backdrop in the minds of the readers, the writer is moved to cite a passage from the prophet Haggai that also references that awesome day at Sinai, as well as other events associated with the LORD’s deliverance of Israel out of Egypt. “For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. And I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations; and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts.” (Hag. 2:6-7)
Shaking the old world order
The ancient world order was established upon the dominance and power of Egypt. From Abraham’s time, through Joseph’s turn as second in command under Pharaoh, to Moses being groomed as heir apparent after being found in the basket in the Nile River by pharaoh’s daughter, Egypt was the influential power who dictated the order of things and many times, the outcome of events. So when the LORD through Moses set about to deliver Israel from bondage to this world power, He was shaking up the well established world order.
The miracles and the plagues were exacted upon Egypt because Pharaoh refused Him who was speaking and forsook the warnings of not letting His people go. The LORD was making Himself known as the one True God, the One who truly sets the order of things, predetermined by His eternal plan that He put into motion before the creation of the world. He had shaken the Red Sea, parting it in order that the nation of Israel could cross over on dry land and escape the Egyptian army. In causing it to crash down upon and destroy the Egyptians after the Israelites had crossed, He shook the foundations of the ancient world order, introducing a new order to come through the use of His people, Israel. Jericho likewise felt the earth shake about it when He caused it’s walls to come crashing down. And on go the examples of God shaking things up in the Biblical narrative of history.
Shaking the Mountain
At Sinai, the LORD shook the mountain to get the nation Israel’s attention as He was preparing to deliver the Old Covenant, the Law, to them through His servant Moses. He was going to shake things up; there was going to be a new order to things, distinct and different from that which they were accustomed in their time in Egypt. The mountain’s quaking came with the warning to heed the voice of the great I AM, or suffer the consequences.
Shaking out the Old Covenant for the New
When Israel lapsed into idolatry and turned her back against the LORD, He once more warned on earth through His prophets that He would shake up the order of things. For refusing Him, He would reject them, allow the Temple to be destroyed by the Babylonians, and ultimately point to the coming New Covenant populated by a new people. This promise would shake the foundations of the Jewish system sifting out the faithful remnant of the Jews to be joined to the wealth of the nations, the Gentiles. These would be used to fill His prophesied house, the church, with glory. (C. f. Heb. 3:6, the church is God’s house now). The Almighty brought this about by raising Jesus from the dead, accompanied once again by Him shaking the earth, opening the graves of the dead and sending those resurrected out into the streets of Jerusalem as proof they should not refuse Him who spoke through His Son. This time though, He shook things up in heaven too. How? He cast Satan and his angels out of heaven and down to the earth (Luke 10:18; Rev. 12:9-10), no longer able to accuse the brethren before the Father!
Shaking and removing the physical for the spiritual
One last warning the LORD has issued, this one from Heaven. For the Hebrews of the first century who had converted to Christianity, the issue was the pull to return to the order of things they were familiar with, a return to Law. For the Gentiles coming in, the issue was licentiousness although they too were susceptible to the pull of the Law . Their history was, “If it feels good do it.” Sound vaguely familiar? The mindset of Law and of licentiousness have a common foundation. They are rooted in the physical, the things of the earth. To return to either would be refusing Him who speaks from heaven and spurning the things reserved for us in heaven. That is the whole premise of the letter to the Hebrews – to move them (and us) from the physical to appraising and grasping the spiritual. So the Lord reminds them of His promise that He will shake and remove all the created things and those who dwell there via a consuming fire, leaving only the spiritual, eternal, and heavenly. The church is the only kingdom which cannot be shaken and will remain. Heed the warning, you will not escape the consequences if you choose earth over heaven. Amen.