In this passage, the writer is seeking to remind us that despite the mediation of Jesus before the Father on our behalf, The Lord is still awesomely powerful and as such, our lives or deaths are utterly at his mercy. This puts me in mind of Psalm 103 as a whole, but in particular verse 14 which reads: For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust (Psalms 103:14 NLT). When I commented on another portion of Psalm 103 at the end of last month, I was talking about just how easy it can be to suddenly just forget about all that God is and does. Today’s passage is warning against exactly that. The New Covenant was only made possible because of the brutal and bloody sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The one perfect sacrifice was awful. Unimaginable to us poor sensitive souls these days. Our father God may have forgiven the sins of the world, but only at the cost of the blood of his only son. The Lord, our God is still a devouring fire and we should always regard him with due reverence and fear.
Hebrews 12:23-29 NLT
You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel. Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain. Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.
Shortly after I came to faith, a christian friend of mine who I greatly respect, spent some time explaining to me about the Kingdom of God. He was telling me that I had been admitted to this Kingdom and I needed to learn my place in it and how to live by its laws. I don’t remember him taking me through this passage in Hebrews, but as I read it today, I remember his efforts to reveal this new and important reality to me. My goal is to continue to seek the Kingdom of God and learn my place in it. My hope is that this will mean that I, in turn, will be able to reveal the wonders and mysteries of God’s kingdom to new christians in the future.
Ezekiel 31:1-32:32, Hebrews 12:14-29, Psalms 113:1-114:8, Proverbs 27:18-20