Let’s talk about God shaking the world at large…and about God shaking your personal world.
The concept of “shaking” something means to test its permanence or show its instability. The point of this verse is to depict what is permanent as contrasted with what is temporary and transitory. Ask yourself, what is truly timeless? What can never be taken away from you?
The Writer to the Hebrews is expanding on a verse he refers to from Genesis 19. When God spoke from Sinai the entire mountain shook. Psalm 68:7 tells us that Mt. Sinai shook in the presence of God. Isaiah 13 records that God will shake the earth out of its place. Isaiah 65 speaks of God creating a new heaven and earth. Haggai 2:6 says God will shake the heavens and earth. In the Old Testament, the great day of the Lord’s return is expected to be accompanied by a great earthquake.
People seem to know deep inside that there will be an end to earth as they know it—and the last three chapters in the Bible prove this is true. The Writer’s point here is the danger of ignoring God’s Word and His power. At Sinai, the unbelievers paid for their presumption with their lives. The Writer is sending this letter to Christians living in the middle of a great religious shake up. The Palestinian world was being shaken by the Romans. The Rabbi’s world was being shaken by Jesus’ life and teachings. The Apostle’s world was being shaken by persecution. But Abraham hoped for an eternal city whose architect and builder is God (Read Hebrews 11).
In this verse, we are warned not to tune God out. He is speaking, but will we listen? Nothing in this world is permanent. If there was, you and I would try to buy some. Everybody dies. No one gets off this planet alive. There seems to be a general aversion to the topic of death and dying. Many people avoid going to nursing homes and attending funerals. They do not want to be reminded how transitory life really is. God has the right to shake things up and remind us how frail we really are.
When He shakes things up in your life, how do you react?
Let’s look at some things that can be shaken.
The world at large
Earthquakes and tsunamis are only God’s reminders of the cataclysmic end-time events that are on the way. Hurricanes strip Florida of homes, property and people. Tornados in the Midwest kill dozens every year. There are many volcanic mountains in the United States, yet the possibility of eruptions seems surreal. Natural disasters used to be termed as “acts of God.” Today, they are called by other names, for people do not want to admit that God controls His elements.
God always shakes what is impermanent. Doctrines are easy to shake, for they are often on shaky ground to begin with. People fail to understand that God’s entire plan for this world is spiritual. When people refuse to recognize this, false doctrines develop. The Reformation era was perhaps the greatest shakeup of all, for it exposed the uselessness of a dead religious system.
The Writer to the Hebrews has already pointed out in his letter that the old Levitical system is passé for all intents and purposes. The Ark of the Covenant is gone. The temple has been destroyed. The priesthood is non-effective. It was a means to an end, not an end in itself. It was planned obsolescence. When the fullness of time came, God sent His Son (Galatians 4:4). All of the Old Testament types, symbols and rituals find their perfect fulfillment in Him and in Him alone. When one is born again, he enters into the Holy Place, the presence of God.
In the past century, hundreds of false doctrines have come and gone. Who remembers the “Jesus Only” (Oneness) movement? Or the “Prosperity Pact” (name it and claim it)? Today, in post-modern America, sensitive seekers question everything. But though all the hammers of time and heathenism have beat upon the anvil of God’s Word, it alone remains stedfast. It is a permanent island amid a tempestuous sea of false teachings.
The only doctrines which cannot be shaken and remain firm and reliable are pure Biblical ones.Make sure the teachings that you receive are Bible-based and confirmed to be true by God’s Holy Spirit. Then your mind and spirit will not be shaken (Read II Thessalonians 2:2).
We have been considering things that change—things that are unstable—as contrasted with the solidarity of God’s love and His kingdom.
We must also consider:
Fashon and Trends
The dress that is popular today is gathering dust in the closet tomorrow. An expensive pair of sunglasses or the latest cell phone is relegated to the archives next week. What is more changeable that current fashions? “The fashion of this world passes away” (I Corinthians 7:31).
Consider the following:
The stock market is in constant flux. Credit card debt is epidemic. Gas prices are out of control. Millions flock to casinos to try to guarantee a rich future. Many attempt to build on a foundation of sand as if it were rock. All materialism is temporal. All the pockets of the man in the casket are empty. Time, corruption and the aging process affect everything on earth. Jesus warns of this when He taught “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matthew 6:19-20). Even the Christian who has little is fantastically rich in Jesus Christ.
Your personal world
September 11, 2001 shook up Americans but not all that much. Most people didn’t see it as a religious attack. Indeed, most completely overlooked the fact that it was done only because America has befriended God’s people, the nation of Israel. The attacks outraged Americans, yet it was not personal enough for most people. Homeland Security has become a tremendous burden and expense. But what in our world is absolutely secure?
Shaking your personal life is one way God might get your attention. How you react to a crisis often shows what you really value. “The things that cannot be shaken will remain.” Sometimes God must strip a person of everything that is temporal in order to give them everything that is eternal.
Don’t be afraid to let the Lord shake you from time to time.
The more our faith is shaken and tested, the more permanence and value we attach to His marvelous grace. The more your personal world shakes around you, the greater your opportunity to stand firm in Christ Jesus.
Look at the Apostle Paul as an example of stability when his world is being shaken:
<> Toss him in jail but angels come and open the doors.
<> His enemies plot against his life but his sister’s son comes
to warn him.
<> He is dragged before Felix, Festus and Agrippa…
but none of them can fault him.
<> People vow to kill him and his friends help him escape over the
wall in a basket.
<> He is shipwrecked but not a hair of his head is harmed.
<> He was often lonely but God always sent a Luke, Timothy, Silas
or Barnabus to comfort him.
<> Though he was snake bitten he just shook it off into the fire.
If life gave Paul lemons, he’d just make lemonade. Unstoppable and undefeated, he writes most of His epistles from a dungeon. Paul doesn’t downplay his sufferings and shakings: the physical, emotional and mental stress was real. But he didn’t trust in his own strength. This was the secret of his victory—and yours. Paul learned, despite any situation he found himself in, to be content in Christ (Philippians 4:11). Nothing that might shake you as a Christian can destroy you unless you let it.
Although we might initially think that a shaking God sends our way is unfair or undeserved, it is another opportunity to trust Him despite our circumstances. Indeed, the entire Epistle to the Hebrews deals with God’s unshakable realities. Every chapter contained in this wonderful epistle addresses permanent realities:
Chapter 1 – The solidarity of God’s being and character
Chapter 2 – The eternality of God’s only Son
Chapter 3-5 – The continual perpetuation of Jesus’ life and teachings
Chapter 6-7 – The endless positive effects of His work on the Cross
Chapter 8-10 – The ongoing blessings of Christ for all believers
Chapter 11 – The stability of our faith
Chapter 12 – The permanence of our reward
Chapter 13 – Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever
Jesus taught us to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven not here on earth (Matthew 6:19-20). We must put everything into God’s bank, for our real treasures are safe there permanently. As if to mock the misers, God describes heaven with gates made from gigantic pearls. What people value on earth are common sights in heaven. Even the streets there are made with asphalt made from gold.
The temporal things of this world and our very lives can stand the shaking only if our roots are deep in Christ and His teachings. Jesus gave a hint of the impermanence of things when His disciples showed Him the great temple. Jesus’ response was, “Not one stone will be left upon another” (Matthew 24:1-2).
Just as earth will be decimated one day, so will be everything carnal and sensual. Even Satan doesn’t get the world in the end, but is cast into the bottomless pit. The earth will get an extreme makeover in God’s perfect timing. He will make a new heavens and a new earth, wherein true righteousness dwells forever (II Peter 3:10-13). The entire human story will come to an end, replaced by God’s spiritual program. No other person in history is as famous as our wonderful Lord Jesus Christ. Think it over: our Messiah has continued to shake up the lives of people since He came two millennia ago.
What lessons can be learned from God’s shakings?
1. God’s shakings don’t have to make you bitter; they can make you better.
2. Though your world may change around you, Jesus never changes.
3. Personal shakings help you to focus more clearly on things that cannot be shaken.
4. Spiritual solidarity during God’s shakings has everything to do with God’s Word and very little to do with your faith.
5. Just because God may not give you all the answers amid your shakings, doesn’t mean He doesn’t have them.
6. Only God’s love and God’s Kingdom are permanent.
“The things that cannot be shaken will remain” (Hebrews 12:27).
As a child of God, you will inherit only things which have true permanence: God’s love, God’s Word and God’s Kingdom.