Summary: What would be left, if God grabbed your life and shook it and shook it and shook it until everything that could be shaken was gone, and only those things that could not be shaken remained? And, why does that question scare us?
Unshakable: Hearing God Through Hebrews 12
Heb 12:25-29 Feb 25, 2007 (Lent #1)
What would be left, if God grabbed your life and shook it and shook it and shook it until everything that could be shaken was gone, and only those things that could not be shaken remained? And, why does that question scare us?
Welcome to Lent:
Welcome to the season of Lent, where we prepare ourselves to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a season of reflection, re-examination, re-orientation – a season where we prepare to come again to the cross and empty tomb, to take a good hard look at our lives and our walk with Jesus. It is a season of asking hard questions, and of challenging ourselves to deeper obedience and devotion and love for God and one another. It is a season to be uncomfortable.
Our theme for this year’s season of Lent is “Hearing God’s Heart”. In our Sunday morning sermons we are going to study Hebrews 12, to hear God’s heart through His Word, and in our special series of Sunday evening gatherings we are going to seek God and listen to God in a variety of ways together.
I once led a small group of people in a “listening to God exercise”, and I began with a question: “if God were to appear before you in person right now, what do you think He would say?” I paused to give space to consider the answer, and I watched. Faces got dark and serious. Eyes were downcast. Shoulders slumped. The group atmosphere got heavy, and kind of depressing, and I knew what they were thinking: “oooh boy, would I be in trouble…”
If that is our expectation, it is no wonder that we don’t stop to listen. Who volunteers to get into trouble? Who looks forward to walking into the boss’ office with bad news about how something has gone wrong, how you have done a bad job, how you have let the company down? Whose hearts leap for joy when the message comes over the school intercom, “would
If that is what we expect from God, then who wants to listen? If that is the kind of God you imagine, then who would want to get close? I’ll finish that small group story later, but first the warning:
“25 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! 26 When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” 27 This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain.”
I am not a “hellfire and brimstone” kind of preacher. I bristle at scare tactics, and get genuinely angry when I hear people’s stories of some of the confrontation, guilt, and fear motivated manipulations of personal-power hungry people who claim to speak in the name of Jesus. But there are times when Scripture gives us clear warnings, which we need to listen to. Warnings are good – our safety conscious culture has many:
Some are a little crazy:
Those humorous examples aside, warnings are good. This passage in Hebrews has a warning: “Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking.” The first thing to notice in this verse is that God IS speaking! He really is – constantly, consistently, concretely speaking. It is one of the most amazing things about God – He chooses to interact with His creation – that is why He created, because He wants to be in relationship with us, and relationship requires communication, and God is trying to communicate! God is speaking.
Then why don’t we hear? Because we don’t listen. We have often ignored this warning – sometimes through active refusal, like when we know God has told us to change something or do something or give up something and we have stubbornly dug in our heals and said “no.” My friends, if that is you then you need to pay attention to this: you are headed for disaster. God has put a great big “bridge out” sign in front of you, and you are ignoring it at your own peril. Maybe you think you can handle it, or you know the way, or your way is better, but if God has said something and you refuse to listen then you are in grave danger.