- Sermon Notes
He Speaks a Better Word
On March 25, 1993, at 5:34 a.m., Oregon experienced an earthquake. It was 5.6 magnitude on the Richter scale.I remember it well because I had driven straight through from Southern California and had just gotten into bed shortly after 3 a.m. I had never experienced an earthquake before so for me it was traumatic.
I’m sure everyone who had moved here from California was casually riding it out, “What do you think, Honey, is that a 5.2 or a 5.3?” “No, that’s got to be at least a 5.5.”
Speaking of California, seismologist say ‘the big one’ is overdue.It could bring untold devastation.But Oregon is also long overdue for an earthquake that could bring the worst natural disaster in US history.
The point of this message is not earthquake preparedness.Well, actually it is; just not the kind of earthquake you might be thinking.These verses in Hebrews 12 contain an ominous and mysterious warning, “Everything that can be shaken, will be shaken, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.”
It’s a spiritual point.God will bring this world to a close.There will be a great shaking of this earth; the frequency and intensity of which the world has never known.It will be spiritual, that much is certain, but it will also be physical.In the latter days God will pour out His wrath and bring the world to a close.
Many with spiritual discernment can sense this world is changing.Tectonic plates are shifting, you might say.Prophecy is unfolding, we are drawing near to the latter days.
When things get shaken, that’s when you need a strong foundation.We have received a kingdom which cannot be shaken.We have a Rock on which to stand.
Now is the time to build unshakable faith in your life.What are you building your life on?Don’t build your life on those things which can be and will be shaken.Build your life on those things which remain, those things which are eternal.
For the last several weeks, we’ve been with Israel at Mt. Sinai as God gave Moses the law and commandments.In Hebrews 12, he uses the experience of Israel at Mount Sinai as a spiritual lesson.We who have believed in Christ have not come to such a mountain that was shaken by the power of God so terrible that even Moses was full of fear and trembling.
You have come to Mount Zion, he says; the mountain on which sits Jerusalem.It’s a spiritual analogy.You have come to the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant that was enacted on better promise. You have come to the sprinkled blood of Christ which speaks a better word.
In these words, there is a challenge.Take hold of what you have in Christ, a kingdom which cannot be shaken.Because everything that can be shaken, will be shaken.Strengthen your faith and build your life on this Rock.
I. The Blood of Jesus Speaks a Better Word
- One of the great themes in Hebrews is that what you have in Jesus is far superior to anything that came before it and far superior to anything this world has to offer.
- God spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us in His Son.
- God speaks; and He Speaks through His Son.And what He speaks is a better word.
- Verse 18 —“You have not come to a mountain that may be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind.” He’s referring to when Moses went up to Mount Sinai to receive the Law from God. The people were afraid and asked Moses to speak for God because they were afraid of God’s voice.
- You have not come to Mount Sinai, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem; you have come to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant…
- Everything you have in Christ is superior.
- And you have come to the blood of Jesus which speaks a better word…
- The blood of Jesus speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Genesis 4:9-10, Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.”
- What was the blood of Abel crying out? It was crying for vengeance; an eye for an eye, a life for a life. “Don’t let him get away with it! Make him pay for his sins! Get even with him!”
- It’s one thing when that is said about someone else, but it’s ominous if it’s said about you.
- But the blood of Jesus speaks a better word, it speaks grace and mercy and forgiveness.His blood and His blood alone has the power to forgive.
- The blood of Jesus is sprinkled over every aspect of your life. It speaks life and love; it speaks the favor of God and His hand of blessing on all you do.
- Live with confidence knowing that the blood of Jesus is sprinkled over every area of your life.
Illus – I’ve always believed in the favor of God on my life. Even when bad things have happened, even when I was at fault, I have always believed that God is able to bring something out of it. He will teach me, He will lead me, He will pour His favor on my life.
I have a vivid memory of missing a plane and yet arriving on time! Yet there were other times I missed the plane and didn’t arrive on time. I trust that God orders my steps regardless of what happens.
When I look back on my life, I see evidence of God’s favor over and over and I know that my God is not finished with me yet.
B. Do not refuse Him who is speaking
- God speaks through His Son and we must receive everything He says.“Do not refuse Him who is speaking.”
Hebrews 2:1, 3, We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it… How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was first spoken by the Lord, it was confirmed by those who heard, God also testifying with them both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit.
- Then he adds; if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.
- Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the word of God for them, but they refused to listen. Jesus came from heaven, speaking the words which God sent Him to speak and we must not refuse to hear.
- The word ‘warning’ sounds ominous, but it’s a warning that helps us; the heart behind it is loving.
Illus – It’s like a warning sign, “Bridge Out Ahead.” The warning is there to keep you from danger. Someone might read that sign and say, “I don’t think I like the tone of that warning sign; that sounds rather bossy to me. When they learn to write signs more nicely, then we’ll listen. Keep driving, honey.”
- He gives us a warning also; and in the same way, it’s for our good. It’s like saying, “That’s the last train out of there, be sure you’re on it because if you miss it, they will be no other train.”
- God sends help, don’t refuse the help He sends.
Illus – I’ve used the illustration of a guy who was in a flood and who refused help from a rowboat, a powerboat, and a helicopter, waving them off, saying, “God will save me.” Of course, he dies, gets to heaven and complains to God, “Why didn’t you save me?” God responds, “What are you talking about, I sent you a rowboat, a powerboat, and a helicopter.”
- No one who refuses the Son will be able to complain, saying, “Why didn’t you save me?” God will respond, “What are you talking about, I sent you My Son.”
Acts 4:12, And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
John 14:6, “I am the way, and of the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
- And then he adds this warning…
C. Everything that can be shaken – will be
- Verses 26-27 – But now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” And this expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken… In order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
- Have you built your life on the things of the earth? Everything on earth will be shaken.
- An increase in earthquakes is one of the ‘signs of the times’ that Jesus said indicate that the end of the age is near. The earth will literally shake with greater and greater intensity, like a woman in childbirth, as we draw nearer to the end of the age.
- It’s also symbolic in the sense that God warns that everything that can be shaken – will be – in order that those things which cannot be shaken will remain.
- The things which are in God cannot be shaken; those are the things which remain. Set your sights higher, seek for those things which are eternal, that cannot be shaken.
- In verse 26 the writer is quoting from the prophet Haggai. The nation of Israel itself had been shaken.It had been sacked and pillaged, destroyed by Babylon. Israel spent 70 years in exile there.
- When they finally returned, they rebuilt the city of Jerusalem and rebuilt the temple, but many were discouraged because the Temple was nothing in comparison to its former glory; that’s when God gives this famous promise…
Haggai 2:1-9 Once more God will shake the heavens and the earth…and the latter glory will be greater than the former.
II. Show Gratitude by How You Live
- Verse 28 – Since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.
- In other words, our response to this amazing salvation is not only in being thankful, but by showing gratitude. That’s a whole ‘nother thing.
A. Give God acceptable service
- When you show gratitude to God, it changes your heart.You have a heart to serve like Jesus served; that is an offering to God that pleases Him.
- Verse 29 – And then he adds, “have reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” In other words, everything will be tested by fire…
1 Corinthians 3:13, Each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.
- Then, in chapter 13, he lists – one after another – those things which show gratitude by how you live…
- Let love of the brethren continue, do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, let marriage be held in honor among all, let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have, respect those who are in authority over you and imitate their faith. On and on the list goes.
This shows gratitude by how you live.
B. Offer a sacrifice of praise
- Hebrews 13:15 – continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God — that is the fruit of lips that gives thanks to His name.
- Don’t just be thankful, He wants you to show gratitude. One way to show gratitude is to offer a sacrifice of praise; the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. This pleases His heart.
- In other words, say it, sing it, shout it, give God the fruit of your lips in giving thanks.
- Our human nature, our flesh, doesn’t naturally want to show gratitude, that’s why it’s called a sacrifice of praise. It’s an offering to God from the soul because the spirit is alive within us.
- In our flesh, we want to feel sorry for ourselves, we want to be cynical and grumpy, and caustic, and say every rude thing we feel. For many people, if they don’t feel good, they have no filter over their feelings and the fruit of their lips isn’t very edifying.
- Giving God a sacrifice of praise is good for your soul, it reminds you to be grateful and to show gratitude by honoring God with the fruit of your lips.
Psalm 50:23, He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me.
Psalm 100:4-5, Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His loving kindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.
C. Fix your hope on heaven
- Everything that can be, will be shaken; but we have an unshakable kingdom. Our hearts are fixed on heaven; our hope is built on nothing less.
- Hebrews 11 is filled with heroes of faith who accomplished great spiritual things because they set their hearts toward the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. He says it here again…
Hebrews 13:14, For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.
- There is built into all of us a great ‘looking forward’ aspect of our nature; always looking forward for something.
Illus – We look forward to getting our driver’s license, graduating from high school, graduating from college, getting married, having a child, having that child sleep to the night, and on and on… always longing and looking forward to something.
- This ‘earthly city’ is not our home.We’re strangers and aliens here.
Illus – The unimaginable happened when the city of Rome was sacked in 410 AD. It was unfathomable that what was once called “The Eternal City” could be sacked and pillaged. As a response, Augustine wrote the famous book, The City of God.
- If the city of Rome can fall, the United States can fall, because God says that everything that can be shaken – will be. In other words, this earthly city is not our home. We’re strangers and aliens here. We are seeking the city which is to come.
Hebrews 12:18-29 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Contrast of Sinai and Zion
18 For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, 19 and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. 20 For they could not bear the command, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned.” 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I am full of fear and trembling.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of [a]angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
The Unshaken Kingdom
25 See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, [b]much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. 26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.” 27 This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us [c]show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire.