Date: September 9, 2018

Pastor Mathew Burt          

Title: A Smoking Mountain and a Consuming Fire (Part III)

Text: Psalm 67:3-5, Isaiah 6:1-7, Revelation 4

Wellspring Church Springfield, Ma.

SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 12: 24-29

24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25 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. 26 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.” 27 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. 28 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, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

BIG IDEA: A Smoking Mountain and a Consuming Fire (Part III)


Our author has been spending the entirety of the book of Hebrews writing to Jewish Christians telling them not to turn back and to us he writes “keep on”.  Jesus is better than every other way or possibility. So when we come to the end of Ch 12, the author is saying I am giving you one last reason and it is this: there was an old covenant given to Moses but now there is a new covenant which has come to you through Jesus Christ.

PB preached on this text on Sept 9, 2001 – two days before 9/11, the day the United States shook with surprise, fear and anger.  On the 9th, PB had no idea that the 11th would be what it was. So when 9/11 happened, people began to think of how many folks would fill the pews of churches after we had seen this incredible event. We did have an uptick of attendance in church. People were shaken by the shaking. But there is yet another shaking that we need to understand.

Last week we saw that there was a comparison between two mountains; Mt. Sinai and Mt. Zion. At Mt. Zion we see that there is not just this earth but Christ who reigns from heaven. On Mt. Sinai the emphasis is on what man must do to have acceptance by God. At Mt Zion the emphasis is on what God has done for us. It is a contrast between the only two religions system in human history.  Mt Sinai asks the question “What must I do in order to gain acceptance with God?”  Take any religion and every one of them except Biblical Christianity falls in this category. The other system is “this is what God has done through Jesus Christ in order that you might have free acceptance with God”.

In Isaiah and Revelation we saw how someone responds when they get a glimpse of God.

We said that there is a warning here.  Don’t ignore him; make sure that you do listen. See that you accept, believe, receive him who is speaking. Our author gives to us a reason for believing. This was a common sense argument. If in that day there was such a horrible punishment, there is going to be a greater punishment. How much greater is the consequence for rejecting the one who speaks from the holy throne. If sticking your finger in an electrical outlet at 110 is bad for you, how much worse  is it if you stick it in at 220. If you thought this was bad, wait until the next.

The second argument is the promise of God argument. Before we go there, we need to ask a question.  God speaks to us through His son. But we don’t hear Christ’s voice come thundering out of heaven today. So how do I know what Word to accept?  Listen through His Word and His faithful preachers. How do I know who is trustworthy?


Point 1: How do I know who is trustworthy?

Point 2:  There is a second reason for heeding this warning –based on the unbreakable promise of God

Point 3: So What – application to our life


Point 1: How do I know who is trustworthy?

How does He speak from heaven today? He speaks to us through His written Word. The Word that has been preserved for us throughout the centuries. The scriptures have been passed down and preserved in pristine manner. We have early manuscripts. There is nothing in ancient writing that has the same consistency as God’s Word. There is no writing in ancient history that has been translated into so many languages as scripture has. The first book to every be translated was scripture.  We have the Word of God written. We accept this.

Not only has God given us the Word written, but he has given to us teachers and preachers to repeat to us, to train us, to encourage us from His Word. Immediately when we say this, the question that needs to come is how do I know which one of these preachers is trustworthy. PB suggests that he is trustworthy.  Here’s some tests to use.

1- What is the foundation or source of the message? Is he someone who promotes a man made message or a message out of vision/dream or his own personal experience. Or can he say, this is where it is written?  In 2 Peter 1:16 Peter says

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Peter is speaking of having lived with Christ for 3 years and seen Jesus transfigured. What we are telling you is not made up by people.  Verse 19  says

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,

2- What is the foundation of this man’s teaching and can I find it in scripture?

Is the message in line with the entirety of God’s message?  This is what Paul calls the whole counsel of God – everything about Jesus Christ and God’s plan for his people. Is the preacher teaching the whole counsel of God or is he just focusing on certain texts?  In 1 Corinthians 10:11 Paul says

Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

3- What is the focus of the message? Is the preacher God centered? Does he exalt man or God?  The focus needs to be God centered. It needs to be Christ centered. Is it you need to do or this is what Christ has done?  Much preaching in the later part of the 20th century is here are steps to a better ….(fill in the blank): that’s man centered, not Christ centered.

4- Does the message of this preacher show that Christ is sufficient?  A well know TV person, Benny Hinn, goes around the world telling people they can have more. He is a false teacher. He is a dangerous messenger.  Benny Hinn pointed out Joel Olsten as a false teacher!  2 Peter 1:3 says

 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to[a] his own glory and excellence,

5- Is the focus of his message the old old story or is it a new interpretation?  Go back to church tradition – things the church has always taught.  But you might say didn’t the reformers change the church?  Isn’t tradition bad?  A study of church history shows that Luther and Calvin taught against the tradition of pre-reformation church and they called for sola scripture. One of the pivot points was the point of transubstantiation.  Calvin quoted dozens of church fathers who all spoke about the representative symbolic nature of the Lord’s supper – far before the 9th century church teaching of transubstantiation.

6- What is the fruit of the teaching?  How do you see that person’s life? Do you see humility? Someone who is under the authority of scripture? Under the authority of elders? Do you see someone who is loving God? Is the preacher one who sees people as more important than himself? 1 Tim 4:16 says

Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Point 2:  There is a second reason for heeding this warning –based on the unbreakable promise of God

The second motivation for listening to God is God will shake the heavens. This a reference to Haggai 2:6-7.

6 For thus says the Lord of hosts: Yet once more, in a little while, I will shake the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry land. 7 And I will shake all nations, so that the treasures of all nations shall come in, and I will fill this house with glory, says the Lord of hosts.

The prophetic is that what we see today; there’s going to be a shaking and a changing.  The easiest way is to say that God is going to come and shake the heaven and the earth – God will come with fire and thunder and the earth will be changed into something else. But that’s not how the passage naturally opens to us. The comparison is between the Law of God and the Grace of God.  The comparison is not this event way back in the desert and some event in the future. The event being spoken of is the event that something is going to happen that will change everything. Haggai says there is going to come a shaking that you have never seen before.  It’s a theophany – an appearance of God.  The burning bush, the pillar of cloud leading people, the cloud leaving the temple: these are representations of God.  There will come a time when everything will be turned upside down. That time came when Christ came into the world and He said something greater than the temple is here!  He overturned not just the tables in the temple but the entire sacrificial system. He ended once and forever the sacrifices of animals.  Everything is different!   That’s the shaking he is talking about.  So the reason to obey and stay the course and remain steadfast is because for these Jews, if they went back to temple worship and insisted on celebrating Passover and the Feast of Booths, they would be living in a kingdom that had been shaken and destroyed.

Build your nest in no tree in this forest for the forest has been designed for destruction!  The Quabbin Reservoir was built and 5 towns were wiped out. To put our hope and security in this world or any system other than the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ would be like someone coming to you and saying I have a deal for you and you go buy that house thinking you are secure only to hear the dam opened and your house is wiped out. He says BUT we have been given an unshakeable kingdom.

Point 3: So What – application to our life 

  1. Stay faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Persevere. Receive this with a faith and reliance upon God.
  2. Live your life with a view of the unshakeableness of the kingdom of Jesus Christ upon which you have built your house. The great boogey man used to be Communism but that is mostly gone. Today we fear other things – Islam, economic disaster, the state of our country, etc. If you have set your house on the unshakeable kingdom, you need not worry about the shakeable kingdoms of politics, economics. They are temporary.  Be grateful.  Confidence in God’s word ought to make us glad and thankful. None of these things will affect us internally.  Thank God that we have a different vision and compass point. Thank you that my troubles will soon be over. Thank you that my blindness has ended.
  3. Pray that God would shake this world with the truth of the gospel. It is the power of God to save souls, to destroy strongholds, topple evil. We would pray that our family and friends would be shaken with the gospel so that the world will not shake them. Pray for our children and grandchildren.  Teach your children the unshakeable realities of the kingdom of God.  Give them a strong foundation in the ways of God, the names of God. Persist in doctrine and in life.


CONCLUSION: What do our kids see in us? Teach and live in the unshakeable foundation of Jesus Christ. Build your life, teach your friends and children to build their life on the unmovable rock.