Robert Wurtz II
See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:25–29 NKJV)
The book of Hebrews was written at a time when Israel was about to go through the greatest shaking in its history. Everything the Jews had known was about to be shaken; their religion, their way of life, their security, their personal peace, their occupations, etc.. We might say that they were in an identity crisis. In fact, the Romans were about to destroy Jerusalem completely. Not even the Temple, the place where Jews journeyed from around the world to worship God will be spared. Moreover, after destroying Jerusalem, the Romans carved a menorah into one of their gates as a reminder of how they completely annihilated Herod’s Temple. Once they threw it down and burned everything that was flammable, the soldiers plowed the Temple Mount like a farmer tills his field.
The Romans left no continuity between the Jews former way of life and their future life. We know this event as the first Jewish revolt of 70 A.D. For most Jews their lives were already in a state of flux. Jesus Christ came on the scene around 30 A.D. challenging their sincerely held religious beliefs. Prior to that time, a new order within Judaism known as the Zealots began terrorizing the Romans and strong-arming the people. They held to the “sole rule of God” doctrine. While trying to throw off Roman rule, they caused so much trouble that Vespasian was ordered to Jerusalem to subdue them. When the people refused to cooperate, the Romans besieged the city as we have already discussed.
I have often wondered how the believing Jews went forward in their faith. Everything was changing (shaking), to the point that many lost everything (family, friends, possessions, careers, reputation, etc.). When it was all said and done, some Christians fell away. These times tested peoples’ faith and experience in God. Some frauds (fake believers) were discovered. They went out from the assembly because they were not of the assembly. This is what John tells us. They went out that it might be revealed that they were not all of us.
A Present Time of Trouble
Sometimes when I wake up and see the news, I ask myself if this whole world has missed the rapture. Evil is prevailing in ways that are unconscionable. The masses are as blind to spiritual things and are as immoral as we have read about in recorded history. Even “Christians” defending everything from homosexuality to political correctness. People walk around like zombies under control of the devil. Boys are being shamed into undressing in front of girls in the school locker rooms; men are competing as women in sporting events; grown men can walk in and use a women’s public restroom at Target Stores; while Canada just passed a law making it illegal to speak against Islam. A moral Vespasian has besieged our culture and we are at risk of losing our identity and culture completely.
The time would fail to tell of Christians being fined and sued because they won’t bake same-sex wedding cakes (pardon the gross expression) to Islamic terrorists running people down and stabbing them on the streets of London! These are streets that I have personally walked on. All the while blindness and diabolic political correctness rules the day. If I did not know better I would think that many people (especially reporters and politicians) in the world are encouraging and enjoying all of these dreadful acts — including the violence! What does the scripture say?
Being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:29–32 NKJV)
A Shaking That Challenges Our Identity
Saints, a great shaking is coming. A shaking like has not been seen or known in recorded history. It is already happening in places like North Korea, Hindu areas, and Islamic nations. It is only a matter of time until it is open season on Christians who practice the Biblical faith in the Western World. Not the nominal Christians who ebb and flow with the culture; they will join the sinners against the Saints. Mark it down. In ancient times they did this very thing and were known technically as Tradutors (a “Christian” who turns genuine Christians over to the authorities). Shallow conversion experiences have loaded the churches with nominal Christians who are still of a carnal mind. The shaking will reveal them.
In the 21st century, we are experiencing a shaking even now. We have it on a global, national, and local level. Families are being shaken; churches are being shaken, and Christians are being shaken. Why? That the things which cannot be shaken may remain. The shaking reveals what cannot be shaken. It also reveals who cannot be shaken. I’m reminded of a comment I heard a man say once, “Now we’re going to see what they are made of — because we have heard a lot of jargon!”
Compromise Leads to an Identity Crisis
On a Sunday afternoon in the middle 1990s, I was doing research on the Deluge and other historical events at the local library when I happened upon a man, sitting at the table, and marking up some poster-sized printed pages. Being curious I stepped closer and because the text was so large I could read it at a distance. I was struck by the fact that at the bottom the copyright was dated for the following year. The man was circling text and writing notes with a red pen. I sat down at the table and eventually asked him, “Sir, if you don’t mind me asking, what are you doing?” He responded, “I am editing a high school science book for Rinehart and Winston. I teach at a local college part time, and since I retired from 25 years as a High School Science teacher… I also edit science books.”
I then stepped to a large window that overlooked the plush landscape and asked the gentleman, “Do believe that all of this got here by accident.” “No!” He replied. “I believe God created it all. I just don’t know how he did it. In fact, I was just in church this morning.” Stunned by this information, I’m sure I made some strange facial expressions. I don’t recall asking anything else — I went and got another book and came to sit back down. Much to my surprise the gentleman and all of his paperwork were gone when I returned. Apparently, he wasn’t in the mood for any more questions. But as I sat there it dawned on me. Here this man has spent 25 years teaching macro-evolution as the origin of life to high school children and is now setting the next generation up for more of the same. All the while attending church on Sunday morning and believing that God was the actual cause of the Universe. I immediately realized that I could never compensate for the damage this man’s teachings had caused — even if I lived three lifetimes.
What happened? A time of testing came and rather than view the Bible as the inerrant and infallible word of God he compromised. I have no idea what excuses he used or what rationale he was moving in. I only know the results of his decisions. Sadly, this type of behavior is more prevalent than we know. It contributes to the shaking we are dealing with today as Christians in the West. People like this continue to go to church on Sunday — but they are using their bodies to spread lies Monday through Friday. They identify as “Christian” but do not recognize the authority of God’s word. How can this be? Look around. Scroll through your Facebook or Twitter feed and observe all the “Christians” who don’t take God’s word seriously. Pay particular attention to people who defend compromise. They will likely be the Tradutors when the shaking gets bad. If they can’t serve God in front of their friends and colleagues on social media or in the workplace — they will probably turn you in when Christian persecution becomes like it is in North Korea and Iraq.
Consider our passage:
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.
Some people believe they are doing a work for God because they are merely “present” someplace. Not true. We are to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. Unless we are affecting the moral and spiritual climate of our environment we are merely salt that has lost its saltiness. How does it happen? Fear, plain and simple. Fear of being criticized. Fear of rejection. Fear of being shamed. Fear of conflict. Fear of being fired (sacked) from the job. Ad infinitum. It could also be the fact that the person loves the world but wants to identify as “Christian.” This is not to say that we walk around waving a Christian banner and beating people over the head with a Bible (a typical strawman argument for not being salt and light), but there are times that we must take a stand.
Serving Acceptably During the Shaking
Most Christians in the West have believed for over 70 years that the Saints will not see persecution. It is the attitude of the world that says, “I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.” (Revelation 18:7b KJV) But it is a purely Westernized Christianity (to put it one way). This belief has left multitudes ill-prepared for the days, weeks, months, and years to come should the Lord tarry. Christians are being beheaded and burned to death in many parts of the world right now. In the West, we are surrounded by an arrogant and militant atheism — while Islam threatens to baptize us with fire and blood. Instead of preparing for persecution, many churches are turning their foyers into coffee shops and their sanctuaries into nightclubs (at least that’s the motif they are following). Their leaders are trying to climb the political ladder at the expense of everyone and everything in the way. They are wildly out-of-touch with what is going on in the world.
Beloved, we (the Saints) need to prepare ourselves now for what is to come. The years of religious privilege (freedom), unknown in many parts of the World (that we have experienced in the West), will draw to a close unless the Lord undertakes. As our passage says in Hebrews 12 we need grace if we are to ever serve God acceptably under conditions that we never expected to be in. What can we do? Let us have grace. Only God can empower us to continue in His will in a way that is well-pleasing to Him — when everything around us seems to have shaken apart. God has a very special grace that is tailor-made for our situation. We will need this grace as spiritual and moral darkness overtakes our lands.