Sunday, December 6, 2015

Shaken not Stirred

See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.    Hebrews 12:25-29  NKJV

Though not entirely unexpected, I am still nonetheless curious as to why so many are exhibiting surprise at the violence we are seeing not only around the world but now, obviously, here at home as well.  I am convinced that the reason some are being taken by surprise is that they may have held the mistaken belief that the conflicts we are seeing are simply disagreements between cultures or religious beliefs which some feel compelled to radicalize.  I would like to suggest that this view may be a little shortsighted in that it ignores the fact that we are told without question that there is a war going on all around us that we do not see, and that is the war in the heavens.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Ephesians 6:12  NKJV

My question for you today is simply this; “do you really believe a war between heavenly forces in the heavenly places would not spill over into our world?”  While we may not be able to visibly see what is going on around us, it certainly makes sense that we would see the effects manifested in some way in our dimension.  I would further suggest that the closer we get to the end of this age, and the more intense the battle between the forces in the heavens gets, the greater the effects in this world will be.  Does it not then make sense that the increasing violence we are seeing now is a reflection of that escalation?

I believe the fact that the writer of Hebrews chose to quote from the Old Testament book of Haggai concerning the shaking of the heavens and the earth is a clue that there is yet a future time where God will again shake His creation in order to reveal Himself as God in such a way as there will be no question as to what is happening.  There is no doubt in my mind that the “perilous times” in which we are now living is simply proof that this time has arrived, and in fact, will steadily get worse. In the book of Isaiah we are even told that the heavens, as we understand them, will be completely changed and actually rolled up to reveal the awesome power of a mighty God over His creation.

All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, And the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; All their host shall fall down As the leaf falls from the vine, And as fruit falling from a fig tree.    Isaiah 34:4  NKJV

The purpose, however, is not to only reveal Himself and His power over His creation, but to also reveal that which cannot be shaken to the disbelieving world.  This is, of course, the kingdom of those who have chosen to accept the gift of salvation offered by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins.  While we might naturally be concerned with what we are seeing occur almost on a weekly basis, the truth is that we are promised in the passage from Hebrews that we are part of a kingdom created by God that will be untouched by the shaking He tells us will come.  Ray Stedman puts it this way in his teaching on this passage from Hebrews;

Jesus answers his frightened disciples again and again: "Be not troubled." "Let not your hearts be troubled." "Be not afraid." "Fear not, for I am with you."

This is the word which cannot be shaken today. What should our response be? The writer of Hebrews says two things: First, "Therefore let us be grateful" -- grateful hearts, praise and thanksgiving to God that we have a place to stand when all around is being shaken.

Has your home been shaken this year? Mine has. And it is great to have a place to stand which cannot be shaken. What praise rises from my heart to God for the unshakable things which cannot be removed!

When everything else begins to rock and shake, when our foundations are trembling and there is upheaval on every side, how grateful we ought to be for things which cannot be shaken.

Having grown up in Southern California, I have experienced my share of earthquakes and the feelings of helplessness you have when you realize you have no control over what is happening.  One of the things I realized from experience when subjected to shaking such as an earthquake is that your first reaction is to try and grab something solid to hang on to, as if that is going to help somehow.  As I thought of this, I could not help but notice this portion of the passage from Hebrews;

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably”

How do we serve God acceptably?  In this time of shaking, many will look for something solid to hang on to.  If we as part of the “kingdom which cannot be shaken” appear to others as having something to hang on to, is it not a perfect opportunity to “serve God acceptably” by sharing the good news of the Gospel of Christ? 

Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.    Matthew 16:16-18  NKJV

The rock Jesus speaks of here is the statement by Peter that Jesus is the Son of God.  Anyone who confesses their sins and asks for forgiveness believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God becomes part of this rock, the “kingdom which cannot be shaken”.  The shaking we see was prophesied by God thousands of years ago as a sign of the end of the age.  Time is running out for those who refuse to believe, and become a part of the Kingdom of God.  Have you made your choice yet?  If so, rest in the knowledge you cannot be shaken by all that is happening around us today.

Keep watching.

PS.  As I was finishing this post I came across another on the same subject written Friday by Alf Cengia, a contributor to the Omega Letter and someone I respect greatly.  I have included the link so you can read his perspective as well.