Hebrews 12 is written specifically to shift the perspective of those hearing the sermon.
Part 1: See Jesus. (not just the race, not just the challenges, etc.)
Part 2: See yourself as a child of God. (a new perspective on God's disipline)
This Week: See the unshakable in the midst of the shaking. (we're all probably experiencing some "shaking" --> relationships, finances, health, etc.)
Through the author of Hebrews, God offers us a new perspective.
When we encounter God...
...is it terrifying or life-giving?
...There are really only two responses: a new perspective on life or a hopeless realization of how far we are from what he's called us to be.
This passage is structured in pairs...
Forcing us to recognize where we're at... no middle ground.
This is God speaking through the author of Hebrews to overwrite the family history... "the last time we got close to God..."
For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”
The closest they've ever been to God (this is the story passed down from generation to generation.
"Have not come" --> common term for coming to a relationship with God.
Their initial "close encounters" with God [theophany] were terrifiying:
"darkness and gloom"
"a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them" (Exodus 20:19)
"They could not endure the order that was given" (Based on their (in)ability...)
God speaks through the author of Hebrews to say: "but, I didn't leave you to live in fear..."
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Contrasts in every way with the first description:
It's a celebration
Based on the work of Jesus ("do" v. "done")
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.
"they" didn't listen to someone speaking on God's behalf
"we" have heard directly from God through Jesus.
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.
There are two kingdoms:
The things that can be shaken (the created, temporary things --> this includes the kingdoms we make for ourselves)
The kingdom that cannot be shaken (the eternal Kingdom)
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.
Worship that pleases God ("acceptable worship"):
Recognizes the present tense reality of the Kingdom.
"for receiving" --> not future tense
Recognizes the difference between the temporary and the unshakable.
We remember God's story... it doesn't start and end with us.
Reveals our "kingdoms"
Recognizes the reality of God.
Creator and consuming fire (burns away the temporary to reveal the eternal)
He does it in the world and he does it in us.
He doesn't consume us with fire... he refines us.
How do we move from being terrified by encounters with God to having life-giving encounters with God?
Look for the unshakable Kingdom in the midst of the temporary.
The unshakable Kingdom is a present tense reality... you just need to be looking for it.
Look around. What isn't shaking?
FRC --> together we give perspective. God works through his church to reveal the unshakable Kingdom (he's done that all along)
Recognize that the thing that makes the shaking process to terrifying is that you see how weak what you've been clinging to really is.
Two choices when your world is shaking:
Let go. (retreat... give up on the process -- I've never met someone who went through the shaking process that would trade their new perspective for anything.)
Seek the unshakable. (what is God up to? what is he revealing to you about the kingdoms you are clinging to?)
Recognize that it truly is a process with a purpose (Hebrews 12). You're learning to:
See yourself as a child of God.
See the unshakable.