March 15th, 2022 – Tuesday Afternoon
“See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’ This expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”
Now we see the fuller picture of the first line of this passage; now we understand both the reason why we ought not to refuse Him who speaks and the reason why we should submit to Him. This passage lays it out altogether, but let’s examine these reasons individually:
First, we are not to refuse Him who speaks because it is for our own protection. They did not escape who refused to listen to Moses, the prophet of God; rather, when they refused him, they were rejecting Him who spoke and they brought upon themselves their own destruction: Through plague, fire, serpents, earth-swallowing, war, capital punishment, and death in the desert. They did not escape who rejected the LORD who spoke and the earth shook, and neither will we if we refuse Him who warns us from heaven. Remember the discussion on verses 18-24 and the comparison of the glory of the first and second covenants? In like manner, if they who rejected the first covenant and its lesser glory did not escape destruction, so we who have been given the second covenant with its greater glory ought not to think that we will somehow avoid His wrath if we turn away. We have been given an even greater glory and understanding, and we also have received a greater responsibility.
Second, we are not to refuse Him who speaks because look at what awaits us in Him!!! There is the comparison of those things which can and cannot be shaken in this passage and the net result is that we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken – by life, by death, by hell, or by anything! It is this kingdom of God that we are to be a part of forever and ever and ever; it comes from Him Himself and is composed of all those who know Him and love Him. Here is it not a physical kingdom, but someday it will be all that we will ever know. There, all the temporary and minor afflictions of this life (no matter how painful or severe they might seem right now) will be gone, and the great glory being stored up for us through the midst of those afflictions will be manifest. Because that is the glory that is being revealed in us and to us and will be perfectly unveiled when time is no more, we are not only not to refuse Him, but we are to live lives of gratitude and grace toward Him so that we can serve Him with the right attitude.
Finally, the last part of this passage could (and may be) a devotional all by itself. “For our God is a consuming fire.” Lest we forget the terror and wrath of the Lord, we are reminded of His burning anger against sin. Lest we forget that His desire for us and for our relationship with Him is much more important to Him than it is to us, we are reminded of His burning jealousy. And, lest we forget that He is our Savior, our Redeemer, our Shield and Fortress, our Defense from the enemy, and the Refuge for all who trust in Him, we are reminded of His burning consumption of the nations in the land of Canaan. Our God is a consuming fire; let us fear Him rightly – remembering His perfect love and living with His grace, power, and peace; and let us passionately pursue His love and faithfulness – remembering His refining fire and His discipline.
My friends, what a privilege to know the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Let us not refuse Him and let us not turn away from so great a glory. He is worthy of our all and He is able to do that which we cannot; yet, He cannot do in us what we refuse to surrender to Him. May He give us tender hearts to His Word, His Spirit, and Himself, and may we respond to Him with gratitude and grace in godly reverence and awe. He is so good and so worthy!