Shock and Awe
Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Devotional for Day 22
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 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.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. - Hebrews 12:25-29 (ESV)
As we fast during this time of global crisis, we wake up each morning to a world that is changing rapidly. The structures, the rhythms, and the pursuits that we all take for granted have been in many ways taken away. We might safely assume these are temporary changes, and yet there may be a lingering wake left behind. We have been changed, shaken.
The author of Hebrews calls this to the forefront as he wraps up his powerful treatise on the supremacy of Jesus. The earth was shaken at His command, and once again, things that have been made—including our structures, rhythms, and pursuits—will also be shaken. What we are experiencing now is just a small taste, a preview of the undoing the Lord will one day, in His holiness, extract. And the proper response to this, according to the author of this letter, is worship.
Two thousand years prior, Jacob was waking up to his own undoing. He lied to his father, swindled his brother, and was on the run for his life. Despite his sin, God meets him, giving him a vision of his presence and the assurance of his promise. Jacob, knowing that he wasn’t deserving of the rock under his head, let alone the blessing of God, responds in fearful worship, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God,” (Gen. 28:17). And he named that place Bethel.
I too am not deserving of the comforts and the freedoms I enjoy, and I have little right to complain when they are taken away. Far beyond that, who am I to call myself a child of God, save for the grace of Jesus? As he called Nathanael, Jesus Himself claimed to be Bethel, the place where God resides, and he will one day undo all the shakable things in the heavens and the earth, ruling over a Kingdom that cannot be shaken. Therefore, in the midst of undoing, we worship Him with reverence and awe.
Lord, I have concerned myself for too long with temporary things, things that do not endure or honor You. Have mercy on me, and be present to me. Let us find hope in crisis, knowing that You come to make all things new, to establish a kingdom that cannot be defiled or spoiled, an unshakable kingdom. And let us worship You for who You are, holy, fearful, and good. Amen.
Ministry Director, Christian Union Caritas