Hebrews 12:25-29

Hebrews 12:25‑29  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 8
It could not be, save by the power of faith, that Hebrews would fail to boast of the early wonders of Israel, and recall with pride the fervent words of Moses, “What nation is there so great, that hath God so nigh unto them, as Jehovah our God is in all that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day?” “Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire as thou hast heard, and live? Or hath God essayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched-out arm, and by great terrors according to all that Jehovah your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes” (Deut. 4)?
Yet the force of Christianity shows itself in lifting believing Jews no less than Gentiles, above all that was or can be seen on earth, to the incomparably higher glories of Christ on the right hand of the Majesty on high revealed now to our faith. Such is the keynote of the Epistle before us. And as the Gentile enamored of philosophy needed to be delivered from his vain dreams, we may apply here what the apostle said to the Corinthians in his second epistle (2 Cor. 3:1010For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. (2 Corinthians 3:10)), “For even that which hath been made glorious hath not been made glorious in this respect on account of the glory that surpasseth,” not to speak of its abiding in glory, instead of being done away in Christ as the Mosaic economy is.
“See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not when they refused him that divinely warned on earth, much more [shall not] we that turn away from him that [doth] from [the] heavens; whose voice then shook the earth, but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once will I cause to quake not only the earth but also heaven. Now the Yet once signifieth the removing of the things shaken as having been made, that the things not shaken may remain. Wherefore let us, receiving a kingdom not to be shaken, have grace (or, thankfulness) whereby let us serve God acceptably with godly fear and dread. For our God [is] a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:25-2925See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 26Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 29For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:25‑29)).
The Lord Jesus, the Son of God is regarded as speaking in the New Testament, and speaking from heaven. So it is in this Epistle, Heb. 1:22Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:2), God has spoken to us in a Son, not merely in the prophets. The person and the place give His speaking the highest authority and immeasurable value; especially as it is on the ground of that eternal redemption, and the purification of sins made by Himself before He set Himself down on the right hand of the majesty on high. Hence the danger of refusing Him that speaks. It is not excusing ourselves because of our inability to meet divine requirement as in the law. Now “the will of God” is done by the Lord Jesus, the Son—done so perfectly in His death as a sacrifice that God is absolutely glorified; by which will we who believe have been sanctified through the offering of His body once for all—nay more, perfected continually (εἰς τὸ διηνεκές),without a break. Man, weak and guilty man, is excluded from this great doing, this infinite suffering. It is God acting for His own glory in His Son, that the believer might be perfectly blessed. He is therefore called, in the sense and confession of his evil, to bow to God in His grace, Who, having thus wrought His will, speaks that man may hear and live, may believe and be saved, blessed now and evermore.
Those who trust their own thoughts and feelings do refuse Him that speaketh. They strive to find a reason in themselves or in the nature of things; and they strive in vain, for no answer can man or nature give why unclean and depraved man should be thence made fit for sharing the portion of the saints in light, and entering boldly even now into the holy of holies. They believe not Him that speaks; they credit not the efficacy of the blood of Jesus. The reason is not in man, still less in nature, but in the grace of God Who has brought a new and everlasting glory to Himself by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Thus can He not only afford righteously to save all that believe, but to find His joy in saving the most unworthy, yet only on their heeding Him that speaks. See that ye refuse Him not!
Just because it is God coming forth in His Son to do the work, after man (tried in every way with the utmost patience on God's part) had failed in all, it is fatal forever to refuse to hear Him and bow. The law was the grandest possible experiment for testing on the score of duty to God and man; and the cross of Christ ended it by man's greatest sin against both God and man. But that very cross saw God's will done forever by Him Whose death completed and closed all sacrifice for our sins before God. It was Christ's work: it was God's will; and the Holy Spirit testifies its efficacy forever. Thereby is remission of our sins; and where this is, there is no longer an offering for sin. And a bloodless sacrifice is a mockery and worse.
But if you refuse Him that speaks, you have nothing but your sins now and the wrath to come. The Jews had in earthly sacrifice no remission, only a calling to mind of sins. An unbloody sacrifice is a nullity and no better than Cain's, and now that Christ has died for sins, still more presumptuous and guilty. And all other blood is incapable of taking away sins. Christ, once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear to those that look for Him the second time apart from sin for salvation. For such He will have no more to do with sin, having ended that question by His sacrifice the first time. The second time He will appear to His people for salvation, when their bodies will be saved as their souls are now. But if you refuse Him, destruction awaits you, everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His might, not annihilation which is but an ungodly dream and perdition. And is it not just?
“For if they escaped not when they refused Him that divinely warned on earth, much more shall not we that turn away from Him that doth from heaven; whose voice then shook the earth; but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once will I cause to quake not only the earth but also heaven.” How plain, conclusive, and overwhelming! It was wicked to refuse the divine warning of the law; it is incomparably worse to turn away from Him that speaks from heaven. For He speaks, not of the yoke which neither the fathers nor the children were able to bear, nor yet of their rebellious restiveness under it, but of redemption through His own blood Who was wounded for their transgressions, and bruised for their iniquities, of peace already made through the blood of His cross Who sits at God's right hand in witness of full acceptance for all who believe. To turn away from His voice is the gravest sin and the surest ruin.
Do you ask a proof? His voice then shook the earth when the law was given; for the Son was ever the One that spoke and acted even of old, no less God, the one Jehovah, than the Father. And soon His voice will be heard again still more tremendously. Then Israel heard, by-and-by every creature must hear. For yet once, saith He, will I cause to quake not only the earth but also heaven. Yet such is the efficiency of His work, that for those who believe it is a “promise.” What can harm those that are His own? If God be for us, who is against us? He Who has not even spared His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who shall lay accusation against God's elect? It is God that justifieth: who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather was also raised up, that is also at God's right hand, that also intercedeth for us: who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Hence what is an awful menace to unbelievers is a promise to faith. Even the quaking of the universe “He hath promised;” it is no threat to us, for His love will rest on us then as much as ever, and we shall peacefully enter into all that is for His glory.
“Now the Yet once signifieth the removal of the things shaken as having been made, that the things not shaken may remain.” It is only creation that passes away under His rebuke, that the new creation may alone stand. “For He that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.” And no words are more true or faithful. They will surely be verified in their season. But the wonder of the Christian is that this is in principle true of him even now; not a promise merely, but a fact, no doubt spiritual, but only for this the more real and abiding and unchangeable. For if any one be in Christ, there is a new creation. And this is a great advance on an O.T saint who was born of God, born anew, a blessed and divinely given subjective reality. But we have not this only, but our part in the objective reality. We are in Christ risen, the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead. It is true of every Christian; if any one be in Christ, a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things are become new: and all things are of God, Who reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5).
Hence we look as a promise for the removing of the things made, this creation, that the things not shaken may remain. God's purpose is to head up all things in Christ, to reconcile all things to Himself; but He has reconciled us already in the body of His flesh, yet not through incarnation, but through death. Compare Eph. 1, Col. 1, Heb. We died with Christ, and “reckon ourselves therefore dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. The removal of the things shaken, of the things not in Christ, awakens no terror, but rather satisfaction; and we exult in the glory of God.
“Therefore let us, receiving a kingdom not to be shaken, have grace (or thankfulness), whereby let us serve God acceptably with godly fear and dread. For our God is a consuming fire.” See the beautiful picture of this in Rev. 4, where the glorified elders are wholly unmoved by the lightnings and thunders and voices which proceed out of the throne; but when the living creatures render glory to Him that sits on it, they are all activity, leave their thrones, fall before Him, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O our Lord and our God. And this is revealed to act on our souls now. For we are qualified already, true worshippers in the hour that now is to worship in Spirit and truth. By grace we fear yet love Him, and would serve Him. Undoubtedly “our” God is a consuming fire; notwithstanding is He our Father Who loves us perfectly. And He loves us equally as “God.” None the less does He hate sin, as He has proved in the cross of Christ; and He has given us a nature that hates sin, even Christ Who lives in us, as He died for us. Nothing more opposed to truth than making grace a veil or excuse for sin, as every believer confesses. Therefore says the apostle to the saints in Rome, “Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under law but under grace.” If we were under law, it is powerless for holiness, and can only condemn, being a ministry of death. Christ is the rule of life working by the Holy Spirit.