Scripture: 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. Hebrews 12:28-29 ESV
Observation: Having urged the persecuted church to focus on their Savior and remember that their loving Father is refining them as holy people, the author reveals their reward for persevering: an eternal home in a kingdom that is unshakeable. Under the inauguration of the New Covenant, Jesus proclaimed that the kingdom of God is now with us. Thus, in contrast to the Israelites at Mount Sanai, we no longer have to stand afar from God for fear of destruction (verses 18-21). We no longer need human mediators as Moses did for God’s people. Instead, we can approach the new Mount Zion, the city of the living God that welcomes the spirits of those made righteous, thanks to our perfected mediator, Jesus (verses 22-24).
Takeaway: Gratefully receive the gift of Jesus’ kingdom that is unshakeable (verse 28a). Indeed, the author tells us that when Christ returns, he will shake away the sin-marred elements of our world that merely reflect the ultimate reality of Christ’s perfect kingdom. Hence, all that will remain will be holy and indestructible (verses 26-27).
So how do we gratefully receive the gift of Christ’s kingdom as his heirs? By offering to God “acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (verse 28b). But as the author earlier states, we also approach our Father with confidence, knowing that we can receive his mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (4:16). And what is acceptable worship beyond a godly attitude? Paul challenges us “to present [our] bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is [our] spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1). Thus, this persecuted first-century church will find relief when they boldly draw near to God, reverently worshiping him with grateful hearts for the gifts of his Son and his kingdom, all the while seeking the Lord’s mercy and grace to persevere suffering. And it is no different for us today.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for the gifts of your Son and his unshakeable kingdom that will be revealed in its untainted glory when he returns. Would you please help us embrace these priceless gifts with reverence and gratitude reflected by our sacrificial worship of you and your Son under the strain of persecution? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling