Unshaken

Jan Antonsson

The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

February 10, 2019

Neosho, MO

“At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens”  (Hebrews 12:26, ESV).

Hebrews, Chapter 12:26-30, is the inspiration for this essay.  I “saw” it and “heard” it and now am relying on the Holy Spirit to flesh it out so it makes sense.  We all know something about earthquakes.  Those of us who have lived in California have heard them, felt them, and often feared them, especially the aftermath disruption to water supply, cell towers, electrical power, medical assistance, not to mention property damage, personal injury, and myriad other unfortunate results.  For years, I read the passage above with trepidation, thinking the writer was prognosticating gloom and doom, death and destruction.  

My dear friend Harry Robert Fox often said that the book of Hebrews was the quintessential answer to why we cannot, must not, and do not live by law, because the book outlines the immeasurable superiority of the New Covenant over the Old. Thinking about it like that, it comes to me that the afore mentioned shaking God promised was in part, the nailing of the Law to the cross  (see Colossians 2:13-14).  It was the fact that Jesus came to proclaim a better way than what was on the tablets of stone Moses brought down from Sinai that incited and compelled the Jews to crucify Him.  Had He been willing to “go along to get along” as the saying goes. He may have died of old age but we’d all still be trapped in the soup of unabated and unredeemed sin, suffering, degradation, and guilt.

That being the case, which it obviously is, there must be something wonderful and redeeming that we experience by this shaking.  It seems to me that the cross was the second major quake human kind experienced, the first being the eviction from paradise that Adam and Eve received for disobeying God’s command not to eat the fruit of the poisoned tree, to quote trial lawyers, i.e., the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, to quote Genesis:   “GOD commanded the Man, “You can eat from any tree in the garden, except from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. Don’t eat from it. The moment you eat from that tree, you’re dead”  (Genesis 2:16-17, The Message).

As with so many things the New Testament proclaims, we were programmed by well meaning but misinformed religious folks to take all the statements as commands:  “Thou Shalt,” directives rather than  the indicative “You Are,” which is actually what the text is saying.  Translation errors have muddied the waters which sadly filled us with fear rather than love and appreciation of what God through Christ has done for us.  This is why I’m so grateful for Jonathan Mitchell’s tireless work in translating the New Testament because he has carefully researched the nuances of the words used, and correct verb tenses, making what he has brought forth really uplifting and continuously freeing Good News. 

But I digress.  The statement about God shaking the heavens and the earth one last time is not a warning to repent, a call to come forward at the Invitation Hymn (though it doesn’t preclude that), but rather, a prophecy about very, very Good News for us.  Here’s the passage regarding the last shaking:

“The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered. Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!” (Hebrews 12:27-30, The Message).

Until God opened my eyes to see that this is a God job from first to last, meaning there’s nothing I can do to control it or hinder it, this passage did not bring me comfort.  Let’s face it, those of us birthed in works rather than grace always thought that every blessing, every comfort, every reward we receive depends entirely upon what we do.  We were never taught Paul’s glorious affirmation to Timothy that the power of God “…saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” (II Timothy 1:9, ESV), 

This mirrors Paul’s other earth shaking statement that God, our Father,  “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:3-4, ESV).  That God chose us in Christ before the world began is absolutely the best news I ever heard.  Just how long do you think you’d have to work before being considered “holy and blameless” before Him if you tried to do it on your own?  That’s a true mission impossible.

When this topic first began to rumble around in my spirit, I wondered what there is in me that cannot be shaken?  The list is so long I’d miss my nap if I tried to innumerate the things that still need to be shaken.  The reason that does not make me run screaming into the night, tearing out my hair in despair and grief is that the shaking does not depend on me, nor the result of same either.  God IS a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29, KJV).  Jonathan Mitchell translates it:  “for you see, “even our God [is] a continuously all-consuming Fire  (or: our God [is] also a progressively fully-devouring fire).”  Jonathan’s translation reveals that the consuming fire is not a one time event, usually thought to be hell after we die, but an on-going promise that God is always here to continuously burn off our dross.  Think about that and then join me in proclaiming, Yay God!

Here is Paul’s explanation of the purpose of God’s fire: “…the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (I Corinthians 3:13-15, ESV). In other words, we are continuously saved, redeemed, and cleansed by God’s fire! Who knew that the fire we feared most of our lives is really our greatest blessing?

This truth illustrates why it is so marvelous, so cleansing, and so necessary to spend time in the Presence of our Father God, where none of the shakable things in our lives can follow. We’re free in Him, free at last, thank God we’re free at last!

This poem written by my grandson Harrison Dalrymple in 2017,  illustrates the point of the essay well.

Secret Arts:  Quake

Allow me to illuminate the secret art of earth. A potent force if applied correctly.

To create and move the very foundations of this world through tremors, landslides, and earthquakes requires immeasurable patience and time.

Yet this humbling power also creates through immense pressure and heat the most remarkable stones this world has ever seen.

Dazzling diamonds, radiant rubies, shimmering sapphires, captivating citrines. and elegant emeralds.

So too, is the art of the mind.  For only through trials and tribulations can we forge ourselves to become more resilient than any stone.

Humbling, indeed.

Harrison Dalrymple

2017

Father, we thank You for making of us living stones, a house not made with hands which You have called Your Temple.  Thank You for calling us before the foundation of the world, before we could do good or evil, so that we truly are Your workmanship, a living letter to the world.  We will bless you and thank you for all eternity, world without end, for calling us to be Your children. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.” Amen. Jan Antonssonll

Jan Austin Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail Address)

All our writings from 1997-2010 are on

The Glory Road

Our writings from 2010 until the present are on this blog.

We always enjoy hearing from you!

Jantonsson@aol.com

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