Hebrewsby Robert M. Solomon
This is the fifth and final warning in the book (the others are in Hebrews 2:1-3; 3:12-19; 6:4-6; 10:26-31). God spoke through Moses at Mout Sinai; those who disobeyed ″did not escape″ (Hebrews 12:25). How much more will be our punishment if we ignore the voice of Jesus who spoke on earth (see Hebrews 1:2) and continues to speak from heaven? Moses was just the transmitter (chrēmatizein, ″warned″) while what Jesus said was the direct speech of God (lalein).51 To ″refuse him who speaks″ (Jesus; 12:25) has far more serious consequences. To turn away from Him (v. 25) and to drift away from His gospel is to turn towards the full force of God's wrath against sin.
The ″whole mountain trembled violently″ (Exodus 19:18). It was a warning to the Israelites of God's power and the serious consequences of disobeying God's law. Now the gospel of Jesus has been perfectly revealed in Christ. The world's rejection of it will result in the terrifying shaking of ″not only the earth but also the heavens″ (Hebrews 12:26; Haggai 2:6). This will happen in the future, when ″what can be shaken″ (all the visible aspects of the created universe) will be removed ″so that what cannot be shaken may remain″ (the invisible aspects connected to the kingdom of God; Hebrews 12:27). God will shake the entire universe to reveal ″a kingdom that cannot be shaken″-the only reality that will remain standing when everything else lies in ruins. We are reminded of the two houses that Jesus referred to (Matthew 7:24-27). The house built on the rock represents the wise man who ″hears these words of mine and puts them into practice″ (v. 24), while the other house on sand represents the foolish man who ″hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice″(v. 26). The house on the rock withstood the great storm while the other house ″fell with a great crash″ (v. 27).
Those who listen to Christ who speaks, and obey accordingly, ″are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken″ (Hebrews 12:28). The phrase ″are receiving″ shows it is already happening now, and will continue until the kingdom is fully received. Therefore, we must worship God with eternal gratitude and ″reverence and awe″ (v. 28)-better translated as ″godly fear″. The writer throws another thunderbolt at his readers by quoting Deuteronomy 4:24, ″God is a consuming fire″.52 We must tremble at His word and obey Him.
51Barclay, ″The Letter to the Hebrews″, 188.
Is it possible to refuse Jesus when He speaks to us? How is He speaking to you, and what is your response to what you hear Him say to you?
What does it mean in daily life when we say that we belong to this unshakeable kingdom? What other kingdoms vie for our attention and loyalty?