Hebrews 12:25-27, “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.”
Those who did not listen to God’s messengers could not escape the end result. As we saw at Mount Sinai, Moses received the Law of God for the people. God did not talk to the people; He only talked to Moses. Those who refused to listen and heed God’s Word through Moses were destroyed. Hebrews 10:28 says, “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses.” The law was literally a matter of life and death. Moses did not make the laws; he merely announced them, but he was announcing them on God’s behalf. There was no means of escape, no mercy for those who refused to listen.
Those who disobey the voice of Heaven disobey the greatest authority. Often, we are tempted to excuse disobedience to God’s messengers. “He’s just a man. That’s just his opinion.” We see from this passage that those who did so in Moses’ day paid for it with their lives. If the punishment for disobeying God’s human messengers is so severe, imagine what punishment for disobeying God’s Word and His Spirit must be! When you read the Bible, you are reading a letter from your Creator. The still, small voice you have inside you is a big God – the Holy Spirit taking the words you read in Scripture and making personal application of them to your life. He can apply it to you because He knows everything about it, and He knows everything about you.
There is no greater insult than to turn away from the Lord Jesus when He is speaking. It is a sign of disrespect when you do not look at someone who is speaking to you. (It’s also a sign of guilt when someone won’t look you in the eye when you’re talking to them.) The protocol of royalty is that you never turn your back on the king or queen. Instead, you walk backward out of their presence to avoid showing disrespect. Yet, the author of Hebrews indicates that people are turning away from the King of Kings. Very few people were were even allowed into the presence of kings in Bible times. Esther told Mordecai that entering the throne room without permission could result in death. We have been given the privilege of listening of God Himself…and yet, sometimes, we turn it down because we do not want to hear what He has to say to us.
We should listen because of the immeasurable power of his voice. The sound of God’s voice can shake the entire earth. This is reference back to what happened at Mount Sinai. When God spoke, the mountain moved – the word used carries the idea of rocking or swaying, as would happen during an earthquake. The creation of the world done by the voice of God. Throughout Genesis 1, we read, “And God said…and it was so.” Hebrews 11:3 says, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.” The only thing God made with his hands was man; everything else was spoken into existence. As well, the judgment at the end of the world will also be accomplished by the voice of God.
The voice of God removes the rubble from our lives if we heed it. Verse twenty-seven talks about “the removing of those things that are shaken.” When God shakes our world, it is not because He wants to hurt us; He is trying to help us. His purpose is to shake us up so that those things that do not belong in our lives will fall away. It is like the process the old miners used in panning for gold. They would dip the pan into water, and then swirl it around and around. Since the gold was heavier than the sand and dirt, it would settle to the bottom of the pan while the debris washed over the sides. This is one of the reasons even mature believers still find their worlds shaken. We all tend, as we grow and mature, to become independent of God. We begin to think, “I don’t need God; I can go my own way and get by on my own.” We do not say that out loud, but we begin neglecting our devotional life, and we begin neglecting church. So, God shakes our world again. His purpose is to remove those things that need to fall away in order that He might use us. When we are shaken, all that remains will be that which brings honor and glory to Him. It is after we are shaken that our character develops, so we can be useful to the Lord and to others.