“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28-29).
Today we mark 78 years since D-Day, one of the most defining moments that pushed the allies on to victory in World War II. Men have, down through the ages, looked to military might and power in order to preserve one’s kingdom. However, even a cursory read of history reminds us that man can never have an unshakeable kingdom in this world. Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall – it is the nature of life in this fallen world.
That is not to say that we should be indifferent to the heroic measures of those daring men. I shudder to think about what life would be like had we not prevailed. And yet, we must keep national conflicts and cultural chaos in perspective. There IS a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and it is incumbent upon us to be citizens of that kingdom above all else.
Just before these verses, the author talks about Mount Zion in the Old Testament. When God came down to meet with Moses on the mountain, the whole mountain was on fire. Along with the fire there was thunder and lightning and the ground was shaking. None of the people were allowed to even touch the mountain during that time. Even Moses trembled with fear in going before God. He knew that God was a Holy God and a consuming fire.
How is God a consuming fire? He burns up sin. He is against all who shake their fists in defiance of his sovereign rule. And he is no less a consuming fire for the Christian. God will burn out impurities and immoralities in your life. As we sing regularly, “my dross to consume and my gold to refine.” God has not changed, He is still a consuming fire. The difference is that now you are coming to a heavenly kingdom that cannot be shaken, unlike Mount Sinai with all of its terrors.
In the Old Testament, Moses was invited by God into his presence on a physical mountain. That mountain was temporary. Today you are invited by God to behold him on his throne in heaven. Heaven cannot be shaken. You are called into a greater place. With this in mind, the author tells us to be thankful and worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.
For what are we to be thankful? The first thing, the thing that should drive us to fall prostrate before our great God is that he has shown us his mercy and grace. Through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, we are welcomed into the very throne room of heaven. We can “then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). He loves you, and “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
Therefore, we must worship him with a grateful heart. Our worship must recognize that God is the sovereign king of the universe. Our worship must not be just something we do, only going through the motions. It must be on purpose, for only God is worthy of worship. It must be focused on our triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and on him alone. Worship must be done with a certain amount of fear, because God is holy and a consuming fire, and he has every right to destroy us for the sins we have done.
But if we are in Christ, we can go before God. Jesus took away every sin, every defilement within us. Yes, God will consume our sin, but we will not be consumed with it and we confess our sins and believe in Jesus.
Yes, we are to worship God every day, but we must remember that we must “offer to God acceptable worship…” That means that I must worship him individually and corporately. That is why the author of Hebrews exhorts us earlier to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:25). We are saved into Christ Jesus, and so we have an obligation to gather together in worship of our great God.
So give your thanks to God for who he is and what he has done for you. Worship God with reverence and awe.