"Yet once more I shake not
the earth only, but also the heavens". Hebrews 12:26-27.
There is no doubt that the
Letter to the Hebrews was a supreme effort to get Christian
believers detached from an earthly form of Christianity, and
attached to Christ in heaven. That effort had as one of its
strong reasons the fact that a great shaking was foretold,
foreseen, and imminent. That shaking was to be in two parts, an
earlier and a latter; an entirely earthly, and an earthly and
heavenly combined. The effect of the shaking, and, indeed, the
purpose of it, would be to test everything as to abiding values.
The former and earthly shaking was Jewish, but it had all the
elements in principle and type of the latter.
In the destruction of Jerusalem
- toward which the Letter pointed - the whole earth was shaken so
far as Jewry was concerned. The Temple, as the focal point of
that whole world, crashed even with the ground. The priesthood,
as gathered up in the high-priestly order, passed away. The
temple service ended, and the nation ceased to be an integrate
and unified people.
These were things capable of
being removed. And yet how long they had stood! What forces they
had withstood! What confidence there was that they could never
cease to be! How assured they were that God was so bound up with
it all that it could never be destroyed and cease to be! How they
fought and clung to it to the last terrible extremity! But it was
of no avail. God was no longer wanting the framework and earthly
system, which had taken so much room, and energy, and
expenditure, before the really spiritual was reached. The
percentage of spiritual value was so small after all, and
spiritual interests lay so far along the labyrinthine ways of
religious machinery and tradition, that it was not worthwhile.
The means to the end was not immediate that is, there was far too
big a distance between the means and the end. There was no immediate
touch with the real Divine requirement, but there was far too
much that was intermediate. And so it had to go, and, rather than
preserve it, God Himself shook it.
What remained after the shaking
was just that, and that only, which was Christ in a spiritual and
heavenly way: Christ in heaven, and here by His Spirit, the
gathering point, or occasion of assembling; Christ in heaven the
High Priest and Sacrifice; the order of God's home a purely
spiritual and heavenly one - not formal, arranged, imposed,
imitated, or material. Order grows out of life, and if that life
is Divine and unchecked, Divine order will be spontaneous.
"He taketh away the first
that he may establish the second".
But a further and greater
shaking is to come, and we are asking whether this is not
imminent. Everything points to it being so. We have been very
conscious of the restraining hand being upon world affairs for
some time. The worst has seemed to be possible again and again,
but it has been suspended in a way which has suggested a Hand
more than that of man's. It is not difficult to see what would
happen to all the outward aspects of Christian work and life,
given the withdrawal of that Hand.
Is God going to shake in a way
unparalleled, so that the framework and organised structure of
things Christian is totally suspended, and only that which is the
true knowledge of Himself and the real measure of Christ remains?
Such a possibility only (it is more than that) should make His
people, and especially His servants, look to it that they are in
immediate touch with the eternal and spiritual factors; that
there is a minimum of that which must go in the shaking, and a
maximum of that which will abide. We must get away from the
outward to the inward: from the earthly to the heavenly: from the
destructible to the indestructible: from the means to the end -
the full measure of Christ.
First published in "A Witness and A Testimony"
magazine, Mar-Apr 1937, Vol 16-2