“Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” 27 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. 28Therefore, 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. 29 For our God is a consuming fire. (Heb. 12:26-29)
We currently live in a time of shakings; within the financial realm, within the world of politics, within culture, within sports, within traditional medias and social medias, and – not at least – within the body of Christ. God is not the author of all these shakings. However, I am convinced that He – like the Scripture verses above indicate – from time to time uses what is happening in the world to shake what can be shaken, so that only what cannot be shaken may remain.
It seems like almost every news report involving the Christian faith nowadays centers around how people have been mistreated by religious churches and institutions. Although these news reports do not portray an accurate picture of Christianity or Christian churches in general – that do so much good in society without recognition – it is positive that religious manipulation and control within Christian organizations come to light so that positive change can take place.
Hebrews chapter 12 tells us there is one thing that – no matter what happens in the world –cannot be shaken: the kingdom of God. In other words: What God chooses to shake are things that are not in accordance with God’s kingdom and its principles.
To have a correct understanding of what God shakes, we must understand the context of these scripture verses. The main theme of Hebrews is that the New Covenant has replaced the Old Covenant, that the New Covenant is superior to the Old Covenant, and that we as Christians should not mix the two covenants but only stick with the New Covenant.
Let us read the above quoted verses from Hebrews chapter 12 again, based on the understanding of Hebrews’ main theme, and in the context of the previous verses:
22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. 25 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, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” 27 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. 28 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. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.
The context refers to Jesus as the mediator of the New Covenant. The readers of Hebrews were admonished to not “refuse Him who speaks” – i.e., Jesus and His New Covenant message about how His cleansing blood has removed the sins of the world and thereby speaks louder than the blood of Abel (which here symbolizes the sins of mankind).
When the author of Hebrews says that “everything that can be shaken will be shaken” he is quoting from the book of Haggai in the Old Testament:
6 “For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; 7and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. 8 ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. 9 The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Hagg. 2:6-9)
According to Haggai, God’s shakings are directly related to that the glory of the new Jewish temple, after the Babylonian captivity, would be greater than that of the former temple of Salomon. The reason why the glory of the new temple became greater was because it was later visited by Jesus, who often came there and taught the people and removed those that used the temple as a marketplace, instead of as a house of prayer for all peoples.
Through the light of the New Testament, we also know that Haggai’s utterance about the latter glory surpassing the former, refers to that the glory of the New Covenant surpasses the glory of the Old Covenant. This is confirmed by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians chapter 3:
6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. (2 Cor. 3:6-11)
“The letter that kills”, “the ministry of death engraved on stones”, “the ministry of condemnation”, and “the glory that passed away” refer to the Old Covenant. “The Spirit that gives life”, “the ministry of the Spirit”, “the ministry of righteousness”, and the “glory that remains” refer to the New Covenant.
The point I am trying to make is the following: God shakes what does not agree with the New Covenant. Only what is built on God’s kingdom, and in accordance with His kingdom’s principles, will remain. The New Covenant is the constitution of God’s kingdom. Things that do not add up with the New Covenant, whatever it may be, thus cannot permanently remain.
This is one of the explanations to why some so-called “revivals” and “waves from God” have come and gone. Although many good things happened and people got to meet God, these revivals seldom could remain over an extended time period. Why? Because much of what was taught and practiced did not agree with the New Covenant.
One example is the so-called “Pensacola revival”, which to a large degree was built upon sin-consciousness and an Old Covenant style of confession of sins – instead of being built upon the New Covenant revelation of our righteousness in Christ because of the finished work of Jesus. There are many testimonies of how people that went to Pensacola encountered God. However, where are these people today? What happened to the so-called revival and what was its long-term fruit?
Another example that can be mentioned is the so-called “Lakeland revival”, which I have personal knowledge of, since I was one of those that went there. Prayers like “God, come down”, God, give us more of you”, and “God, we are desperate for you”, were very common. Somewhat simplified we were saying: God is not here, but up in heaven, but if we shout loudly enough, we might be fortunate enough to encounter more of Him. This might sound spiritual and good but does not add up with the New Covenant revelation of “Christ in us” and the fact that we – right now – are seated with Him in heavenly places. Whether the long-term results of the Lakeland revival were positive can be questioned; especially considering what later happened to its front figure, Todd Bentley.
I am convinced that we are now entering a time in which many Christian churches, organizations, and institutions will be shaken in their foundations. The judgment starts with the house of God (see 1 Pet. 4:17). Although God is not behind all these shakings, He will use what transpires to further the advancement of His kingdom. When these shakings occur, whatever in the body of Christ that does not agree with the New Covenant will be exposed and removed.
It might be painful, but when it happens we should – just like the author of Hebrews encourages us – be grateful (see 12:28)! In the long run it will be beneficial for the body of Christ – and for us as individual believers – to let go of what was built by man, so that only what was built by God can remain.