It was around 400 years from the time of the first king in Israel to the time of the Babylonian captivity. If you count when God was the king before Saul was anointed, you have about 900 years of the kingdom of Israel or Judah. It would not be hard to think that this kingdom would truly last forever. But then the captivity happened. The temple was destroyed. The nation was truly and fully conquered.
Everything was shaken up. The stars fell from the sky. The sun and the moon were darkened. Who knew what would happen next? But then they were allowed to return after 70 years to rebuild the temple. Unfortunately, even after only laying the foundation, it was clear that this new temple was nothing as glorious as the old temple. Would God’s kingdom ever recover? It was after the foundation had been laid and they sort of gave up for a long time on continuing the construction that God sent Haggai to prophesy to the people. They did finish rebuilding the temple, but it was small and insignificant in comparison to the old temple that Solomon had built. So God gave them a promise.
6 “For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; 7 and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. 8 ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. 9 ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:6-9, NKJV)
This was literally fulfilled when Herod the Great, an Edumean (Edomite) was ruling over Israel. His recent ancestors had been converted to Judaism at sword point by the Hasmonean kings of Israel. In Matthew 24, we see how proud the Jews were of the work, even though the work was not complete until shortly before the temple was destroyed. In John 2:20, they indicate that the work was still continuing even though it had been under reconstruction for 46 years.
But that is not really what God is promising here. He is talking about a new kingdom with a greater temple. We see the fulfillment of this in Hebrews 12.
26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” 27 Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:26-29, NKJV)
There has been a change of kingdoms – it is something big that affects the whole earth. This new kingdom is not like the old nation of Israel which could be captured and taken from its place. This new kingdom will never change. It is unshakable! We then have some instructions that are motivated by having received this unshakable kingdom.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. (Hebrews 12:28, NKJV)
Grace is the word often used for thankfulness in the New Testament and is translated that way in many translations. It is because of our gratitude for the kingdom that cannot be shaken that we offer our acceptable service. We are offering our service to the unshakable King of this great kingdom with reverence and awe (godly fear).
When we think of this idea of acceptable service, it is hard not to think of Romans 12.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1, NKJV)
This acceptable service or sacrifice is to be our bodies in spiritual (or reasonable) service of worship. Our whole life must be devoted to serving God.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2, NKJV)
Do not be conformed to this world. Can people tell that you are different from other people? Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. How can you renew your mind through the Word of God if you only study once or twice a week? Do those things you can prove are the will of God. You are in a wonderful kingdom. Know the laws of your country so that you stay in good standing as a citizen.
How Can I Offer Acceptable Service?
Let us return to Hebrews. Hebrews 12 tells us that we are in a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Because of our gratitude, we must offer acceptable service in this kingdom. Chapter 13 gives us some ways that we can do this.
Let brotherly love continue. (Hebrews 13:1, NKJV)
The gospel of John and 1 John both explain what kind of love this must be.
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13, NKJV)
16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? (1 John 3:16-17, NKJV)
We are willing to share anything we have to help our brother who needs it. We are willing to die for our brethren.
We are not only to love those brethren that we know, but we are to extend our love to strangers also.
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. (Hebrews 13:2, NKJV)
Examples of people who showed hospitality to strangers include Abraham and Lot. In both cases, the men they were showing hospitality to were angels. But remember that this would not have been the only time they showed hospitality. They showed hospitality to the angels because they had the practice of showing hospitality whenever there was a need.
Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also. (Hebrews 13:3, NKJV)
Remembering means more than just thinking about them. Jesus talks about the final judgment in Matthew 25. He tells us that if we do not visit our brethren who are in prison to take care of them, we will go away into eternal punishment.
Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4, NKJV)
Keeping the marriage bed undefiled is an important part of our acceptable service in this unshakable kingdom. Never let society’s view on fornication or adultery guide your thinking. The kingdom will not be shaken. Don’t let your thinking be shaken. Fornicators and adulterers will be judged.
5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6, NKJV)
Be content. But some will complain that they have to commit sin to survive. Prostitution, theft, fraud, dishonesty, and many other sins are justified in name of “survival.” But when we are honest with ourselves, we know that we want more than just survival. Our problem is a lack of contentment. You do not have to sin in order to have what you need to survive! Not if you put the unshakable kingdom first in your life.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33, NKJV)
Here in Hebrews, we are told to depend on God who will not leave us. God will help us to make it through life. Of course, our attitude should be the same as that of Shadrack, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Even if we do die, we will still not commit this sin.
We have a kingdom that will not be shaken! Christ will not change.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8, NKJV)
His commands for us will not change either!
Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. (Hebrews 13:9, NKJV)
Part of our acceptable service is our reliance on the word of the King. We must know that He never changes and so we must put our energy into knowing His will, not various and strange doctrines. Our hearts should be established by grace, not the physical things that we desire or the type of worship that appeals to us.
So offer a sacrifice of acceptable service in praising God and helping others.
Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. (Hebrews 13:15, NKJV)
But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (Hebrews 13:16, NKJV)
I will leave you with the final words of this book as we think about this wonderful kingdom that will never be shaken and how we can offer service in this kingdom.
17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. 18 Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. 19 But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. 20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:17-21, NKJV)