“His voice shook the earth at that time, but now He has promised, Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also heaven. This expression, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of what can be shaken…so that what is not shaken might remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace” (Heb. 12:26-28).
These verses have been on my mind since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Many things across the globe have been shaken, things that, until a month ago, might have appeared strong and stable. As 2020 dawned, who imagined that in a few short months, a virus would kill people, jobs, economies, and routines? Something we can’t even see has brought everything to its knees. Beneath all this lies a loss that is more fundamental: the loss of certainty.
The truth is, if certainty lay in life, economies, and routines, then we never had it to begin with. To believe that we had it requires a studied denial. We live a hair’s breadth and a second hand from death or, at the very least, change.
Many see things like this pandemic as heralds of God’s coming kingdom. I believe we wait for the full manifestation of God’s kingdom. I also believe we have something better than just waiting for this world to fall apart so that utopia can begin.
The above verses from Hebrews tell us we *are* receiving a kingdom. The tense in Greek is present and active so we could say we are continually and presently receiving a kingdom. Jesus said “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). So we are presently and continually receiving what cannot be shaken—the kingdom of God—within us.
This makes the kingdom of God more akin to other biblical concepts like abiding. Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. If we remain or abide or live in Him, He lives in us (John 15). There is connection and organic relationship.
The kingdom is the same way. It will fully manifest at some point. Yet we live in it now by faith, and we are continually, presently receiving it. What cannot be shaken lives within us. And that means no matter what falls down all around us, we will stand. The times, they are a’changin’ but “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).