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Hebrews 12:28 1
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,

Matthew 7:24-25
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

Background for Hebrews

In the Hebrew Bible, the term “Hebrew” is normally used by foreigners (namely, the Egyptians) when speaking about Israelites and sometimes used by Israelites when speaking of themselves to foreigners. By the Roman period, “Hebrews” could be used to designate the Jews, who use the Hebrew language. The Epistle to the Hebrews, one of the books of the New Testament, was probably directed at Jewish Christians. The author is anonymous, although either Paul or Barnabas is traditionally accepted as the author. It was written approximately 67 A.D.

Followers of Christ have suffered persecution throughout history. Stolen property, beatings, imprisonment and martyrdom have been the fate of countless Christians. And if we would watch our current local news channels, Christ’s followers are being persecuted more than ever today. For those of us who aren’t suffering in these ways, it’s hard to imagine the temptations that persecution brings. Christians who live in peace and safety often compromise their faith even without threats. But can you imagine how tempting it would be to compromise what you believe to protect yourself, your spouse, your children and closest friends from serious harm? How could we possibly encourage fellow believers in these conditions?

This was the challenge that faced the author of the book of Hebrews. He wrote to a group of Christians who had suffered in the past and were now threatened with even more suffering. They’d done well years ago, but the author of Hebrews feared that they might now turn away from Christ to avoid further persecution. Our study verse gives us good news, we are getting a kingdom which cannot be shaken. To the Christian, this means we are getting a kingdom that is permanent and unchanging. The Kingdom of Christ will never pass away.

Reflecting off of last week’s lesson on Christ’s second coming, Hebrews us that God will soon, with His voice, shake things up. Since God has given us a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, Hebrews is likely referring to Jerusalem.  The expected response of the people should be one of thanksgiving and service, done all with reverence and fear.  We are to be in awe of our God because He remains fiery, as He was on Mount Sinai. His fire consumes His enemies (Hebrews 12:29/Deuteronomy 4:24; 9:3), The author of Hebrews reinforces that God’s people are not the enemy and further warns them not to become an enemy of God or else they would miss out on dwelling forever on “God’s mountain.”

It is very important that in times of great worldly turmoil, not to loose faith. The Church as we know it has endured for eighteen hundred years, in spite of all the attempts which have been made to destroy it. Christ’s church is as vigorous and stable as it ever was. The past has shown that there is no power of earth or hell that can destroy it, and that in the midst of all revolutions, Christ’s kingdom still survives. Its great principles and laws will surely endure on earth to the end of time, and will be made permanent in heaven. This is the only kingdom in which we can be certain that there will be no revolution and the only kingdom which is destined never to fall.

The “argument” presented is, that this kingdom is permanent. There is no danger of its being overthrown. It is to continue on earth to the end of time; it is to be established in heaven forever. If it were temporary, changeable, liable to be overthrown at any moment, there would be much less encouragement to persevere. In a kingdom like Christ’s there is encouragement because there is also the assurance that:

  • all our interests there are safe;
  • all our efforts on behalf of God will be crowned with ultimate success;
  • the efforts which we make to do good will have a permanent influence on mankind, and will bless future ages; and
  • this reward is certain.

Mankind is subject to governments about whose ability to stay in power is always uncertain. In a government where nothing is settled, where all policies are ever changing, and where there are constant vacillating plans based political parties, there is no inducement to sacrifice, give of  time and take risks for the betterment of all. But where the policies are settled; where the principles and the laws are firm; where there is evidence of permanency, there is the highest levels of cooperation and encouragement. The highest possible encouragement of this kind  will be permanent and can only found in the kingdom of God. All other governments may be revolutionized,  but the Kingdom of God never will – all other kingdoms will change their policies over time and all other will be overthrown over time but the Kingdom of God never will.

Background for Matthew

Here, Christ gives us a parable about the man building his house on the rock. According to verse 24, the “rock” is whoever hears these words of Jesus and follows them. In order for us to fully understand what Christ was saying in this parable, we would have to understand all the commands Christ  gave in the Sermon on the Mount. In that sermon,  Christ taught a tremendous amount on how the Christian is to conduct his life. Essentially, we can assume that everything that Jesus said in the Gospels is the proper way to live the Christian life. These are the things that we should apply in our life so that our life is a testimony to the saving power of Christ.

Christ is also saying that anyone who listens to His words must not only listen to them but also apply them, because that is the way to live  your life, upon THE “Rock.” There are always going to be storms in life. In the Parable of the Sower, for example, we were told that as soon as we hear and apply the Word of God, tribulations and persecutions will come our way. That is why it is vitally important that we are founded on God’s Rock and in the principles of Jesus Christ. Christ came to give us an abundant life! But even more importantly, He came to teach us how to weather the storms of life and live that abundant life.  Christ didn’t come to kill our joys or destroy our dreams. He came as a role model, the wisest of them all, to offer us proven choices to make in our lives. Like gifts from any great Teacher, Christ’s wisdom and learnings do us no good if we ignore them.

The constant use of metaphors of “rain”, “floods”, “stream”, and “winds”, are meant to remind us of the many temptations of Satan, the persecutions of the world, the corruptions of a man’s own heart, and the errors and false doctrines of men. Christ’s wisdom is meant to keep us safe.

Isaiah 32:1-2 1 See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice. 2 Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.

Isaiah foretells us so long ago that a king would come, ruling fairly and with wisdom. Upon His kingdom, the storms, droughts, the corruption of men, and other unforeseen catastrophes of life would have little impact because this kingdom would be built upon a rock.

Items for Discussion

  • What might make these parables, lessons, difficult to understand for a non-Christian?  How would we be able to help someone with the meaning?
  • There is an important concept here in how Christ uses parables. He takes a “real-world” lesson from life and then applies it to a higher order of understanding Himself and God. How can we adjust our own knowledge and understandings of the Bible to become translators, that is people who share the Bible’s wisdom in contemporary terms?
  • How would you describe this story to a child? To an engineer? To a teacher? To a non-believer?
  • How would you describe to someone why the Kingdom of God cannot be shaken or destroyed? 
  • From these verses, how would you defend the current threats against “our history” and why it is so important to hold on to history?
  • What happens if we lose our Biblical History? 

Discussion Challenge

  • What Is the Kingdom of God? Here are some discussion points to ponder in the event you might want to explain the KINGDOM to someone.

God’s Kingdom is the real government established by  God. “The kingdom of God” is also called “the kingdom of heaven.” i (Mark 1:14, 15; Matthew 4:17) It shares many attributes of human governments, yet it is superior to them in every way. God has appointed Jesus Christ as King of the Kingdom and has given him more authority than any human ruler could ever have. (Matthew 28:18) Jesus uses this power only for good, since he has already proved to be a reliable and compassionate Leader. (Matthew 4:23; Mark 1:40, 41; 6:31-34; Luke 7:11-17)

  • Duration. Unlike human governments, which come and go, God’s Kingdom “will never be brought to ruin.”—Daniel 2:44.
  • Subjects. Anyone who does what God requires can be a subject of God’s Kingdom, without regard for ancestry or birthplace.—Acts 10:34, 35.
  • Laws. The laws (or commandments) of God’s Kingdom do more than just prohibit wrong behavior. They raise the moral character of its subjects.  (Matthew 22:37-39) Love of God and neighbor moves subjects of the Kingdom to act in the best interests of others.
  • Education. While God’s Kingdom sets high standards for its subjects, it also teaches people how to meet those standards.—Isaiah 48:17, 18.
  • Mission. The Kingdom of God doesn’t enrich its rulers at the expense of its subjects. Instead, it will accomplish God’s will, including the promise that those who love him will live forever. (Isaiah 35:1, 5, 6; Matthew 6:10; Revelation 21:1-4).

 

 

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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