Message: Thank You
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Jessyka Dooley
Live Adventure: Jessyka Dooley
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Hebrews 12:18-29 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: This passage in Hebrews does not have to mention Mount Sinai. Simply from all the references within the passage, everyone would have known that the Apostle Paul was talking about the Mount Sinai moment (Exodus 19:12–19; 20:18-21; Deuteronomy 4:11; 5:22–23). Paul is demonstrating how much the people had grown in their journey. Yet, as I mentioned last week, while we have grown in our trust and faith and in our knowledge, so too have we grown in our indifference. We have forgotten who God is and made Him all too common. Our gratitude to God is often missing.
Paul effectively gives us a glimpse into the ways of God. He shows how God operates with people, and how He will use methods, language, models, and metaphors that resonate with people at the level they are at, while aiming to bring them to where they need to be at a pace they can handle. Take the sacrificial system in the Bible and the death of Jesus on the cross. Do you believe that the Trinity, who are love, chose a model that involved death because they wanted blood to be spilled? The Bible teaches that this model exists because life is the one thing—the only thing—we ultimately understand to be of value. The good eternal life, lived in love, is what God calls us to join. This is a life of submission to the will of God, obedience in sync with God. It is our struggle every day. The loss of life is the most painful thing that any human experiences. It is what the entire Trinity mourn and suffer over right along with us. Paul wants to remind us how incredible the incarnation really was. So he draws our minds back to a time when a group of people had just come out of slavery. After 400-plus years of bondage, they had forgotten all the ways of God. They had grown accustomed to the grandeur of the Egyptian power. God adopted the culture they recognized, the familiar emblems common to them. Paul highlights this through seven examples: the mountain that could not be touched, the burning fire, darkness, gloom, storm, a trumpet blast, and a voice speaking words that over a million people heard at once echo across the desert sky. Got your attention? It certainly caught their attention. This was the intent—to remind them, and us, just how powerful God is, Paul draws us all to the “new” mountain experience.
Moses, as a mediator between the people and God, was himself afraid to approach God. He recognized his own sin and unworthiness. Paul contrasts that with Jesus who is the true mediator, and is part of the Trinity. He is God. Equal with God. Jesus arrived on earth as a baby and lived among us as a human. He died and conquered death. He did this to provide life eternal, the one thing we all value. And He kept all His scars so that when we see them, we will not see pain but victory. He removed the curtain so that when we see God the Father, we see God the Son and God the Spirit as well. All this and more are wrapped up with a bow in this passage. The most gentle nature lies within the most awesome and powerful nature.
Recalibrate: How do we turn scars into signs of victory? How do we turn pain into joy? How can we become more thankful?
Respond: Pray for a heart of service.
Research: How does Matthew 6:33 call you to service?
Remember: “Let us be grateful and worship God in a way that will please Him, with reverence and awe . . .” (Hebrews 12:28, GNB).
Japhet is senior pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, and is co-founder of the One project. Originally from southeast London, he served in the South England Conference for nine years—as a pastor and later as conference youth director—before moving to the United States in 2006. He and his wife Becky have two sons, one at university and one in high school.
Has your child ever lost a favorite toy or stuffed animal? It is always really sad when we lose something that is special to us. Hebrews tells us that everything can be shaken, lost, or broken. There is only one thing that will always remain, and that is Jesus and His Kingdom. Tell your child that no matter what they lose or what gets broken, they will always have Jesus. We can never lose Jesus. Jesus is never shaken, and Jesus is never broken! He is always there for us no matter what!
Make a list of all the things that are important to you. Your family, favorite toys, foods, your pet, etc. . . . Hebrews tells us that everything on earth can be shaken. Everything can be lost or broken or ruined, but there is one thing that cannot be shaken. What or whom do you think that is? It is Jesus and His Kingdom! Sometimes we make things important to us—especially around Christmas time when we get new toys and games, but there is one thing that will never go away or get broken, and that is the Kingdom of God. Cross off everything on your list and write “Jesus” in really big letters instead!
Have you heard about the wildfires attacking places like Paradise, California? Many people have had their whole lives burned to the ground. I can’t imagine the pain that they are going through as they rummage through the destroyed things that were once an important part of their lives. The sad reality we have been facing in Hebrews 12 is that everything on this earth can disappear in a moment’s notice. Yet I want to encourage you with some of Paul’s final words in this chapter: “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken . . .” I don’t know if you have ever lost anything significant to you. I hope not. But if so, take heart in the fact that heaven is unshakable. It may seem far off or like a good story in a book, but heaven is near. Jesus is coming soon! He is going to bring us to an unshakable home where evil will have no more power to destroy anything. So remember, whether you have lost much or little, each of us has hope in the fact that Jesus is preparing a permanent home for us.