Something that captured my imagination when I was 11 years old was when a scientist predicted that there would be a major seismic event along the New Madrid Fault on December 3, 1990. (In the winter of 1811-12, the New Madrid Fault along the confluence of Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, and Tennessee, produced a series of earthquakes that were the strongest ever recorded in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains – toppling chimneys over 350 miles away in Cincinnati and ringing church bells in Boston.) All the talk in 1990 was what would happen if the predicted earthquake came to fruition: if it registered so much on the Richter Scale, plaster would fall from the ceiling; so much more, and bookshelves might fall over; a certain magnitude, and buildings could topple. It was all quite scary for a child. But December 3rd came and went, and the fault stayed silent.
Major earthquakes take place every year around the globe, bringing destruction, suffering, and death. The awesome power of these events reminds us that no matter how much of the natural world we seem to master, there is still so much that is out of our control.
The Old Testament tells us in several places that the Lord’s voice and His anger could shake the earth (Exodus 19:18, Psalm 46:6, Isaiah 5:25, Jeremiah 10:10, Joel 3:16). In Haggai 2:6, the Lord says, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens.” The writer to the Hebrews interprets that prophecy from Haggai as indicating that there is a day coming when everything that can be shaken will pass away, and only that which cannot be shaken will remain (Hebrews 12:26-27).
There is good news in this prophecy of coming destruction: in Hebrews 12:28 the writer testifies that “we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken”. This covenant of which we have partaken, this kingdom where we have filed our citizenship – these things cannot be shaken! In light of that great news, we should not hold on to things that are going to be shaken into oblivion, but rather to those things that will not pass away – the unshakable Kingdom of God.
The writer to the Hebrews goes on to say, “our God is a consuming fire” (12:29). He is going to consume what is temporal, and all that will remain is that which is eternal. Each of us has a choice before us: we can align ourselves with that which is temporary, or we can align ourselves with that which is eternal.
There is coming a day when everything that is temporal will be shaken into oblivion, and only that which is unshakable will remain. If we are wise, if we would claim our citizenship in the Unshakable Kingdom, we should hold loosely to those things that are shakable, and prioritize those that are eternal.
~ Matt Kinnell, NHIM Board Chair