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.” (Hebrews 12:25-26)
There is never a week that goes by in a large congregation that an upheaval in someone’s life circumstances does not take place. These events are shaking, if not shattering, to them, to their family, or even to a congregation’s life, as a whole. After having pastored a very large congregation for many years, I have still never become numb or desensitized to the shake-ups that happen in peoples’ lives. Yet I have become accustomed (though never unfeeling) to their occurrence, because I know that we live in a highly breakable, highly shakable world. It’s not a matter of people whining about their circumstances. It’s just a true fact that surprising and shocking things happen. While their impact may differ upon each of us, we all experience these kinds of things. None of us, no matter how much we may have seen or been through, is shock-proof.
When we look in God’s Word about how we can become ambassadors of an unshakable Kingdom while living in a shakable world, there is a great truth that is important for us to capture and embrace—not just as a hope, but also as a practical reality that can happen in and through our lives. By hearing and responding to Jesus’ call, it is possible for His unshakable Kingdom to so penetrate the fabric of our lives that even though we may be shocked by circumstances, we will not become shaken by them. Even though things rattle and rupture around us, there comes stability—not because of anything in our own being but because of something steadfast that is flowed into our lives by the promise and power of God.
The devastating upheavals taking place in our world today underscore how critical it is for each of us to receive and experience His unshakable Kingdom for ourselves. It begins with new life in Christ, without which, Jesus says, we cannot enter the Kingdom of God (John 3). New birth in Christ brings us into a new dimension of life where the Lord can begin to work stability into us. And then, the unshakable nature of His Kingdom in our lives equips us to become a resource to others – to overflow His constancy, goodness and strength to them. There’s a desperate need for anchor people in our changing world. People who can be depended upon because they are open to being an expression of the solidity of the living God.
Becoming Anchor People in a Shakable World
We live in a changing world filled with people who are reaching for a firm grip on something that cannot be shaken. God calls us to become people who have that grip, formed of the unshakable nature of the Savior that transcends our temporal world and introduces the constancy, stability and strength of His Kingdom into the shifting, shaking and sometimes shattering circumstances around us.
In God’s eternal Word, we find the timeless truth regarding two things that abide. First, there is the unchanging call that we come to the Savior—that we receive new life in Christ and follow Him (John 3). Then comes the Savior’s unchanging commitment to flow a stabilizing capacity that meets us at every point of need, no matter how shaken our private (or even our global) world becomes.
“Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” (Heb. 12:26)
The book of Hebrews describes the unshakable Kingdom our Savior has established by the blood of His new covenant. It contrasts the incomplete worship forms under the old covenant, prior to God’s perfect and complete salvation in His Son Jesus, who died once and for all.
Before God became flesh and moved among us, He reached in love to people at Mount Sinai, giving them specific guidelines to make their lives work (what we call the Ten Commandments). At Sinai, when Heaven met Earth, Scripture says that the mountain was shaken. Why? Because the Almighty Creator’s own creation was incapable of sustaining the proximity of His awesome presence.
God would come in the flesh to another mountain at another time and be killed by our hands. The Earth would once more shake, but at Calvary, it would be a shaking announcement of deliverance for all mankind.
Jesus reaches to us with an everlasting, unshakable love. It’s depicted at Sinai and magnificently manifested at Calvary. It reaches to this moment with His unchanging call to be born again and follow Him; and His unchanging capacity to stabilize us, so that the flow of His unshakable Kingdom might be ministered through us to people in our world who need that steadfast strength.
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. (Heb. 12:23)
We are called to hear a Voice in the midst of this moment. The “Him who speaks” is Jesus who, through His blood, has brought us to a place of anchor-like strength by faith in Him and into relationship with Father God. Not only does He speak to us from His Word, but also by the whispers of the Holy Spirit to our soul. We know when that happens, but often we say we’re “not sure,” especially when He speaks instructively or correctively. Yet the fact is, we do know—there comes a sense of His specific word to us, and there is a clarity that we recognize as different from our own thoughts. Hearing the Savior assures our abiding in the stabilizing nature of His life, and enables us to reach with an unshakable grip to others. We may be surprised or even stunned by things that happen, but we won’t be shaken by them.
A Gift and a Grace (Heb. 12:28)
For us to experience the flow of God’s unchanging capacity, we are to receive the gift of His unshakable Kingdom (“…since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken…”) and to open to His grace (“…let us have grace…”). The ceaseless flow of God’s grace makes way for His unshakable gift to be continually sustained in our lives. It is by His grace that we are enabled to “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” That is, to please God and to take Him seriously in the matters of our lives. Out of the abundance of His love, He gives us the grace to serve and please Him, and to work His unshakable capacity in us.
To become anchor people of His unshakable Kingdom, we need to hear and heed our unchanging Savior, “refusing not Him who speaks,” in the following four ways:
1. Hear the Savior’s Call to Total Commitment. The Savior calls us to Himself: “Take up your cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24). It’s important we clarify what the cross is that you and I are to take up. Praying to Father God the night before He was crucified, Jesus said, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). The cross is not a whiney stance we take about our burdens, as in, “I guess it’s just my cross to bear.” Here Jesus defines the cross as the will of God for our lives. Jesus freely gave Himself, living out the will of God for His life. There are times when the cost of doing that is painful. If we follow the Savior with total commitment, He will flow all the grace we need. His call to total commitment flows from our Savior’s desire to partner with us and sustain us in pursuing God’s will for our life.
2. Beware of the Deepening Darkness. The Bible says that as we move toward the consummation of history, things will grow darker. In the natural world, as we get older, most people lose elasticity in the lenses of their eyes, diminishing their ability to focus. As we age in Christ, we also can lose the flexibility of staying focused on what the Lord is wanting to do in and through us. For those of us who have walked with the Lord a long time, this loss of spiritual flexibility and focus can make us vulnerable to thinking that we discern more than we really do. In the midst of a darkening world, we must not lose fresh focus on what the Lord has for us today.
3. Be Warned of Your Adversary. Speaking of Jesus, the Bible says that He who is in us is greater than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). But he that is in the world stalks us relentlessly, “like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Every one of us is a target as the Adversary prowls about to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). To maintain our stance as anchor people of His unshakable Kingdom, we must stay close to Jesus, girded in the whole armor of God (Eph. 6).
4. Obey Jesus’ Command to Be Filled with the Spirit. We are to keep on being filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18)—to not only be filled, but also to re-fill and to overflow. Jesus instructs the disciples to first receive Holy Spirit power before they go anywhere (Acts 1:8). The promise of Holy Spirit fullness is not a doctrine. It is not Pentecostal or Charismatic. It is biblical. It is a reality related to a vitality that we are not to let drain dry. That vitality is maintained by our regularly coming before the Lord in worship and simplicity of heart, by letting a freshness come over our souls every day, and by praying and singing with the Spirit, as well as with the understanding (1 Cor. 14:15).
If we will answer the unchanging call of our unchanging Savior, the substance of His unshakable Kingdom will become woven into the fabric of our lives, making us constant and consistent instruments of His anchor-like strength in the midst of a shakable, breakable world.