Wednesday, April 2, 2014

All shook up ........................ Parables 100

Did you remember to circle February 8th on your calendar? Or did the “BOOM” catch you off guard? I thought someone drove into the side of my house with their car, or worse still, one of the industrial plants blew up. It didn’t last long but the house definitely shook. My knees did for a moment or two as well. 

Of course the sound and shaking was a result of the railroad bridge demolition. This large landmark disappeared from view sometime around 10:00 a.m. February 8, 1988. It is forever gone. 

I immediately thought of a couple of verses of Scripture because they talk about things being shaken, not by a demolition crew with some dynamite but by Almighty God who says “... I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 

This comes out of a passage in the New Testament book of Hebrews. It was written to Hebrew Christians during a time of intense pressure and persecution. Some of them were wondering if following Christ was worth it. They were thinking seriously about turning back to their traditions, back to their former sacrificial system. 

Among other things, the author of Hebrews pointed out to his readers that those former things were shadows or symbols pointing to the true sacrifice, the one that is acceptable to God for all time, for all sin, for all who believe. Of course He referred to the death of Jesus Christ, when He sacrificed His own life. It made no sense to turn back to a temporary sacrificial system that did not give them a new life as does Christ. 

This passage in Hebrews 12 reminds these unsteady people of when the Commandments were given to Moses on Mount Sinai and how the mountain shook and so did the people. “The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear.’” But even with all that, some of the people who heard the warning Moses gave, rejected it -- and God destroyed them. 

The writer of Hebrews goes on to contrast that with what happened to them when they heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, “You have not come to a (literal) mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm... but you have come to (spiritual) Mount Zion... to the city of the Living God. You have come... to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word... see to it you do not refuse Him who speaks...” (Hebrews 12:22-24). 

Like the people of old, they too were on the verge of turning away. So just as Moses warned them of what would happen if they did, they are again warned of what will happen: “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens...” 

God does not offer promises of a glorious future for all mankind. He said there will be a day coming when He will test all things by such a powerful force that not only will all the bridges come down, so will everything that has no eternal value. In verse 27, the words “once more” indicate the removing of whatever can be shaken - that is, “created things - so that whatever cannot be shaken may remain.” 

He also explains what it is that will remain (or pass the “shake test”). It will be His Kingdom, a realm which includes all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ and in His sacrifice for them. 

Since His Kingdom cannot be shaken, God urges the Hebrew believers (and all who stand at the same place of indecision): “See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven? At that time, His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens’... therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptable with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” 

Monday morning’s blast was a reminder; there is another one coming.

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