3D Devotional 8.23.2019

Hebrews 12:18-29 NRSV
18You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, 19and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. 20(For they could not endure the order that was given, "If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death." 21Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear.") 22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 25See that you do not refuse the one who is speaking; for if they did not escape when they refused the one who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject the one who warns from heaven! 26At 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 heaven." 27This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of what is shaken-that is, created things-so that what cannot be shaken may remain. 28Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; 29for indeed our God is a consuming fire.


The transient and the permanent are sharply contrasted by the writer. All of creation has a transiency about it while there is another order of reality that is apprehended by faith which has its center in God and God's Son. The writer has sharply contrasted those who listen to God and those who do not listen. The purpose of this contrast is to warn, not to blame. Obstinacy is not confined to the past. Nor is it confined to the person at whom the finger can be pointed. We readers should be aware lest we, thinking we have some unique advantage, fall into pride and are as obstinate  as anyone else. We are to be humbled by the realization of a greater responsibility borne by those of us to whom much is given.

An equally important point here is the image of God's dwelling place as the worship of the Christian community (verse 28). Worship is the means by which the church in its present life draws near to God. Worshipers approach God with confidence, knowing that in Jesus our priest we will find mercy and grace. This understanding infuses every word and act of worship with gratitude. We can never forget that it is God we approach and that the service is always offered in reverence and awe. Worshipers that are not informed and not lead in ways that have their center in God and His Son may satisfy certain appetites with their musical preferences, textual and preaching preferences. But they will fall short of acceptable worship. Designing worship that abandons gratitude, reverence, and awe in order to please passing tastes may meet with some applause but fail in what is acceptable to God.

O God, help us to always find our center in you; be the center of our being, the center of our worship, the center of our service and fellowship.  Be the center of our commitments, our thoughts and our relationships. Amen.

Ken Casey

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