“Our God Is A Consuming Fire” (Hebrews 12:25-29).

The writer of the Book of Hebrews has both unbelieving and believing Jews in mind, as he writes. To the believing, he writes encouragements. To the unbelieving, he writes warnings and admonitions against rejecting the Gospel for Judaism. Hebrews 12:25-29 contains some of these warnings about unbelief.

Vs. 25 says to the unbelieving Jews, “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.

The same way God had spoken to the Jews at Mount Sinai (Exo 20:22) now speaks to men In the New Covenant, in His Son Jesus (Heb 1:1-3). He invites them to believe. This is what His voice is saying in the New Testament. In Christ is God’s full revelation of Himself (John 1:14, 16-18). He speaks God’s Word to His people (John 12:49, 14:10).

Those who refused God’s voice in the Old Testament perished. They were cut off and did not escape (Heb 2:2, 10:28). Much more those who turn away from God now, in unbelief. They will be regarded greater sinners. Their judgment is SURE (Matt 11:24, 2 Thess 1:8-9).

The writer of Hebrews continues in vs. 26 (Heb 12), “Whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven (quoting Haggai 2:6-7).'”

The voice of the Lord shook the Earth under the Old (Exo 19:18-19, 20:18-19, Deu 4:12, 5:2, 4, 22, Judges 5:4-5, Psalm 68:7-8, 114:4, 7). His great power was made known to the nations through mighty acts and occurrences. In Haggai, the Lord promises to shake the Earth again.

Haggai 2:6-7 (NKJV)

6 “For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I WILL SHAKE HEAVEN AND EARTH, the sea and dry land; 7 and I WILL SHAKE ALL NATIONS, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts.

This time Heaven is shaken as well. This shaking refers to the abolition of Judaism. This would happen in AD 70 when Jerusalem would be destroyed, and Temple-worship would cease.

Jesus also spoke about this, in Matthew 24, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; THE STARS WILL FALL FROM HEAVEN, and THE POWERS OF THE HEAVENS WILL BE SHAKEN” (vs. 29).

The “heavens” were often used to describe Israel (see Isa 51:15-16, Jer 4:23-31). Jesus means here that the power of the Jewish nation would come to an end in that shaking.

Since the Jews refused to repent and continued animal sacrifices (even though Jesus already paid for sins), judgment was coming, in form of Roman invasion. The Temple would be destroyed and worship at Jerusalem would end. Jesus foretells this, in John 4.

John 4:21 (NKJV)

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, THE HOUR IS COMING when you will neither on this mountain, NOR IN JERUSALEM, worship the Father.

God seeks men to worship Him in the truth (the reality found in Christ), not in shadows (Old Testament sacrifices), “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH” (vv. 23-24).

So God prophesies a shaking (in Haggai 2:6-7); a dreadful upheaval and series of changes in the world, particularly involving the Jews. The entire Jewish nation, their customs, laws, sacrifices, offerings etc will be completely subverted. This is the shaking.

The writer of Hebrews continues in vs. 27 (Heb 12), “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.

The term “things that are made (with hands)” usually refers to a product of human works and efforts in the New Testament. “Cheiropoiétos” (from “poieó“) is the Greek word used to describe this. It means “hand-made,” referring to what is done by human agency, apart from God.

Mark 14:58 speaks of a temple “made with hands.” In Acts 7, Stephen explains that God does “not dwell in temples made with hands” (vs. 48).

Paul says similiarly in Acts 17:24, “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.

Ephesians 2:11 speaks of circumcision “made in the flesh by hands.

Hebrews 9:11 says that Jesus is High Priest of “the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands.” Vs. 24 says similiarly, “Christ has not entered the holy places MADE WITH HANDS, which are copies of the true.

What is made “with hands” is usually based on man’s strength, without God. It comes about by man’s hands i.e. his agency. It is artificial, non-lasting and transient.

So all things made with hands would be destroyed in this “shaking,” everything Israel holds on, in pride and rebellion—her religion (Judaism), her Temple, her sacrifices—which were all types, meant to remain TILL the time of reformation (the New Testament), Hebrews 9:9-10 says.

In the New Testament, faith in Christ replaces Judaism (Rom 10:1-4). The Church replaces the Old Testament Temple/Tabernacle (1 Corin 3:16, Heb 3:4-6). Christ replaces the Levitical offerings (Heb 10:1-10, John 1:29). These were shadows pointing to Christ (Col 2:16-17). But the Jews still held on to these things, at the time the author of Hebrews wrote. So the shaking was necessary.

After that shaking, “the things which cannot be shaken (i.e. the reality/true/antitype found in the New Testament) will remain,” Hebrews 12:27 says.

All false institutions of the world at that time (Judaism inclusive) would be shaken, and only the Gospel will remain, as God’s sole means of accepting men.

Vs. 28 then says, “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.

There is a kingdom offered to men, which is to be received. This Kingdom is the New Testament dispensation, referred to frequently as the “Kingdom of God” (see Matt 12:28, Mark 1:14-15, 14:25, 15:43, Luke 4:43, Luke 9:2, 11:20, Acts 1:3, 8:12, 19:8, 20:25, 28:23, 31).

This dispensation differs from the Old, in that it endures forever. It remains while the first (the Old Testament of the Law, with its sacrifices and practices) is destroyed, and passes away.

2 Corinthians 3:11 (NKJV).

11 For if what is PASSING AWAY (the Old Testament) was glorious, WHAT REMAINS (the New Testament) is much more glorious.

The glory of the first Covenant passes away (2 Corin 3:7), making way for the second. This is what the Book of Hebrews is teaching. Hebrews 8:13 says, “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first (the Old Testament) obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old IS READY TO VANISH AWAY.

Since there stands an offer of the Kingdom, the New Testament dispensation, the writer of Hebrews says, “…let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb 12:28).

Those who will be saved are to hold on to Grace, that is, the doctrine of Grace (which is the Gospel). Only by the Gospel is God served acceptably. God only approves of ONE way for men to come to Him, and that is by faith in Christ.

John 14:6 (NKJV)

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father EXCEPT THROUGH ME.

This is how we serve God in “reverence and godly fear.” Reverence and godly fear (awe) to God is to come before Him, in the merits of His Son (who is “the Way”), not our own.

Vs. 29 then says, “For our God is a consuming fire.” The writer of Hebrews appeals to Scripture here. He quotes Deuteronomy 4:24, “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”

The context of this text from Deuteronomy 4 is idolatry. Vs. 23 says “Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves A CARVED IMAGE in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you.” The people are warned against false worship and religion, which is what the writer of Hebrews warns the unbelieving Jews about. They still clung to Judaism, which had been replaced by faith in Christ.

For those who remain in disobedience (depending on animal sacrifices and practices of the Law), they will experience the fire of judgment upon them (see Matthew 3:12, 25:41, 2 Thess 1:7-9). That consuming fire is not for believers, but for those who persist in rejection of the Gospel.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


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