"RECEIVING AN UNSHAKABLE KINGDOM"
(A Series on Hebrews)
Westgate Chapel 3/30/03 a.m. Hebrews 12:25-29
PROPOSITION: When things we have trusted in and this world and its systems are shaken, God calls us to have kingdom ears inclined to His voice, to have kingdom living for that which cannot be shaken, and to have kingdom worship in reverence and awe for His consuming holiness and majesty.
- "COME on baby, there's a whole lot of shaking going on." I asked everyone in the office last Thursday, who wrote or recorded that socially redeeming piece of musical poetry. Not even the Music Department could help me.
- "COME on baby, there's a whole lot of shaking going on."
- AND there certainly is.....a whole lot of shaking going on.
- I DON'T really know whether there is more shaking going on in the lives of men and women, and in our world today, than in any previous time in history.
- BUT when it comes to those things that shake us, that shake our lives, that disrupt our tranquility, that destabilize our families and our future....it doesn't really matter how it compares to any other time in history. What does matter is when it is happening in your day and in your life or your family.
- THERE is a whole lot of shaking going on in the world.
* We are witnessing unprecedented shaking in the Communist world.
* Eastern Europe is far from over the hump politically.....its people and governments are shaken.
* The Soviet Union is destabilized, and anything could happen in that part of the world......the Politburo is shaken.
* No one really knows what Gorbachev will do in Lithuania.....He is obviously shaken as his policy of Peristroika is tested.
* The churches in Eastern bloc nations are experiencing a window of opportunity.....but no one knows for how long.
* US News and World Report, last week, speculated that Baghdad has or is in the process building a nuclear bomb.....and the middle east is shaken by the news.
* Libya has experienced some temporary set backs in the production of chemical weapons.....that they said they were not making. More shaking in the mid-east.
* Just about every political change in the world has dramatic economic implications, the magnitude of which few people understand.
* In a recent Time magazine article an economist speculated that a unified Europe would become the new world economic power that would eclipse and eventually dwarf the economy of the United States.
* There are things happening in our world right here that are producing some shaking around the Puget Sound.
* Our local news this past week reported that in an attempt to save the spotted owl, millions of acres of forest in the Northwest would soon be off limits to the timber industry.....costing 10,000 to 15,000 jobs in our region in lumber and related industries.
* Military cut backs in spending are having serious consequences at Boeing. The defense industry is shaken.
* Gang related violence is now shaking up more cities than just Los Angeles. Hardly a week goes by without a report of a drive-by shooting here in Seattle or Tacoma.
* The church of Jesus is being shaken. Think of the number of nationally known spiritual leaders who have fallen in the past two years and still show up in the news from time to time......people that you and I were proud of a few years ago and even supported with our giving.
* Some of the churches and denominations that used to believe the Word of God, and preach the Gospel are now removing references to the cross and the blood of Jesus from their hymns and liturgies.....and some are ordaining homosexuals to the ministry.
* Think of the shaking that many of the families right here at Westgate Chapel have been through in the past few years or months.
* Maybe you are right in the middle of being shaken right now, in your family, or in your job, or with your health.
* The threat of a lay-off knocks at your door.
* The doctor's diagnosis has filled you with fear.
* Your marriage relationship is teetering on the brink of disaster.
* You look to the future and see no ray of hope.
- THERE is a whole lot of shaking going on.
- WHAT is happening?
- WHY does everything seem so destabilized?
- WHERE and WHEN is it going to end?
- HOW will we know what will be left when the shaking is over?
- THINGS in which you and I have trusted and hoped seem to be crumbling around us.
- TURN with me for some answers to Hebrews 12:25-29.
- AS you have heard me say before, the people to whom this book was originally written, were experiencing dramatic shaking in their lives......homes disrupted, families disrupted, forced relocation, persecution......all kinds of shaking.
- THE very things that they had come to look to to provide some normalcy in their lives had been shaken away.....and there they stood, stripped and naked before God.
- THEY were asking the same kinds of questions that you and I ask when we are being shaken.
- IN fact, some of them were in the process of turning a deaf ear to the Holy Spirit, and hardening their hearts to His voice in the process.
- AND to this shaken people, the Holy Spirit writes three things in Hebrews 12:25-29.
ii. kingdom ears
- VERSES 22-24, that we studied last Sunday morning, talked about the kind of spiritual place we come to when we come to Jesus with our lives.
* Mt. Zion, the city of God.
* Thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly.
* The church of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven.
* God, the judge of all men.
* The spirits of just men made perfect.
* Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant.
* Sprinkled blood, that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
- IT is that blood, that Jesus poured out when He gave His life on the cross....
* That blood that speaks of the love of God for us.
* It speaks of forgiveness.
* It speaks of mercy.
* It speaks of hope.
* It speaks of righteousness.
* It speaks of new life.
* It speaks of eternal life.
* It speaks of the kingdom of God.
- AND Hebrews 12:25 says,
"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?"
- WHEN the shaking is going on, you and I need to have kingdom ears.
- WHEN the Israelites were struggling during their travels in the wilderness.
* Having to leave the comfort zone of Goshen was a shaking experience for them.
* Walking in the wilderness was no picnic. Water was scarce. Food was hard to come by. And when they did get it, it was manna, morning, noon, and night.
* The Amalekites were ready to swoop down on them at any time. In fact, at one time they snuck up from behind and attacked the women and children and elderly who were coming along at a slower pace than the rest.
- AND in the process of all the shaking, they got hardened hearts and a hearing problem when it came to the voice of God.
- WHEN God spoke from Sinai and gave them His blessing on obedience and His wrath on disobedience.......they closed their ears and rebelled against Him.
- WHEN God said, "You will have one God and worship Him"......they closed their ears and made a golden calf.
- WHEN God said, "Don't panic, I have always taken care of you and I won't let you down now."......they closed their ears and threatened to stone Moses and go back to Egypt.
- WHEN God said, "Go on in, I will give you the Promised land."........and Joshua and Caleb said, "With God, we can do it!"......they closed their ears and one million people voted to stay in the wilderness.
- NOW, what this hearing problem, and the hardening of their hearts, cost Israel was the lives of an entire generation who died in the wilderness.
- THEY did not escape the wilderness, when they refused to hear the voice of God when He warned them. That is what Hebrews 12:25 says.
- NOW, the writer of Hebrews says, if they did not escape when they refused to hear.......how much less will we escape when we are warned by the voice of Jesus, through His Word, and He is in heaven.
- HEBREWS is full of these kinds of warnings that say, "When you hear His voice, don't harden your heart."
- THE voice of God, spoken through the blood of Jesus (vs.24), is speaking "forgiveness", "cleansing", "grace", "holiness", "deliverance", "peace."
- SO verse 25 says, "Don't refuse Him who speaks."
- THAT is God speaking to your heart.
* He is calling you to respond to His great love for you.
* He is calling for you to surrender your life to Him.
* He is calling for your response to His great love.
- THERE is no escape if you turn away from Him who calls you and warns you from heaven.
- HE has spoken a salvation so incomparably great and wonderful as ours in Christ Jesus.
- PLEASE DON'T refuse Him. Listen to his voice in the shaking time.
- KINGDOM ears. That's the first word of the Spirit to our hearts during the shaking.
iii. kingdom living
- HERE is the second principle, from verse 27.
- AT the time that God first spoke to Israel, His voice shook the mountain and the earth around it (Exodus 19:18).
- THE writer to Hebrews references this shaking in verse 27.
" 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.'The words 'once more' indicate the removing of what can be shaken--that is, created things--so that what cannot be shaken may remain."
- THERE was that awesome moment when God communicated His law on Sinai, before which the whole world stands condemned........but that is just a small foretaste of what is going to happen when God shakes the whole created order.
- THERE is coming a day, and we see some of its warning signs in our generation, when everything that we know of that is not of the kingdom of God will be shaken and eternally removed.
* The cities of the world, with all the skyscrapers that we are so proud of....removed.
* Wall street, and all the lives that it has lured and crushed with its promises....removed.
* The pentagon, with all of its hierarchy and military pride....removed.
* Hollywood, with all of its corruption and phony lifestyles.....removed.
* The fashion world, that would like to dictate what is in and what is not.....removed.
* Our bank balances, all that they have and all that we wish they had......removed.
* Our houses and lands and cars, with all the independence that they promise us....removed.
* All the institutions of higher learning that have mocked God all these years.....removed.
* All the corrupt and oppressive political powers in the world....removed.
* All the human hatred and bitterness, the envy and strife, the gossip and back-stabbing.....removed.
* All the divisions that exist between mankind, based on race, or sex, or social status.....removed.
* All the haughty philosophies of man, that would lift up their heads in pride against God.....removed.
- HAGGAI 2:6 speaks of it this way,
"This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the Lord Almighty."
- EVERYTHING that is part of the world system that we know. Everything created thing will be removed in this final shaking of God.
- GOD will purge this old world of all its sin, its greed, its lust, its disease, its corruption, its lying, its murder, its hatred......everything that is hostile to Him.
- EVERYTHING stained by sin in any way will be consumed in the wrath of God and destroyed....removed.
- PETER writes concerning this last shaking in 2 Peter 3:10,
"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare."
- THE shaking that we are seeing in the world today is just a foretaste.....the shaking that you may be experiencing is just a foretaste of the great final shaking of this old world and its systems that is coming.
- BUT the good news in this final shaking, for the people of God, is that the completion of judgment is also the completion of salvation......and the future glory will outshine anything we have known or can even think of.
- THE only things left unshaken will be those eternal truths, those kingdom priorities, that Jesus lifestyle that we are committed to right now.
- WHAT will be left will be the love of God, the peace, joy and righteousness of the kingdom of God.
- WHAT will be left will be cross of Jesus. The blood of the Lamb that was slain from the foundations of the world.
- WHAT will be left will be the Church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.
- WHAT will be left will be the spirits of righteous men made perfect.
- THE joyful assembly of thousands upon thousands of angels, joined by ten thousand times ten thousand of the saints who are washed in the blood of the Lamb.
- WHAT will be left will be the sacrifice of Jesus and His saving grace and power in our lives that is unshakable. It will stand forever.
- SO you say, "Pastor, what it the second principle?"
- WE had better live by kingdom principles and priorities now, and give ourselves to those things that will remain unshaken when the final shaking takes place.
iv. kingdom worship
- HERE is the last principle that I get out of verses 28&29. Let me read the verses to you,
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire."
- THIS unshakable kingdom is not only future tense.
- IT is not only that great day when Jesus comes and establishes His kingdom on a new heaven and new earth forever.
- WE are receiving it right now....this unshakable kingdom.
- IT is already a reality for those who receive it by faith.
- JESUS is already seated at the right hand of the majesty on high (Heb. 1:3).
- THIS being so, the writer says,
* Be grateful.
* Ingratitude lies at the root of all sin. It is a form of rebellion against God.
- GRATITUDE is at the heart of genuine response to the Gospel.
- GRATITUDE is that spontaneous response that bursts forth in praise. Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 9:15,
"Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"
- IN Ephesians 5:19&20 Paul writes,
"Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
- IN I Thessalonians 5:18 he writes,
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
- WORSHIP is the outward manifestation of the response of love to the love of God in Christ Jesus.
* All self esteem, self righteousness, is renounced in true worship.
* We become centered on Him who is our Redeemer.
* Remembering our own insignificance and unworthiness, and the infinite majesty of Him before whom we bow.
- THIS "acceptable" worship we are to bring to Him with reverence and awe.......for our God is a consuming fire.
- IN other words, grace is not a reason for flippancy, or casual discipleship.
- THERE they are, three principles for your life for those times when there is a whole lot of shaking going on.
- FIRST, to have kingdom ears and not to refuse Him who speaks from heaven.
- SECOND, to have a kingdom lifestyle, and give yourself to those things that will remain after the great final shaking that is coming.
- AND thirdly, to give yourself to the gratitude that is expressed in kingdom worship, in reverence and awe of a holy God.
- SO that what cannot be shaken may remain in you until the day that Jesus comes to take you home.
I WILL COME AND BOW DOWN
O FOR A THOUSAND TONGUES