Hebrews 12:28-29 - 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, for our God is a consuming fire.
The book of Hebrews delicately balances how Christians should approach God, given their new status in Christ. The author understood the Old Testament well and quoted it often throughout the book. Throughout the OT, God was seen as a God of justice and holiness, who must be approached at certain times and under certain conditions. As the author so eloquently states, Jesus Christ makes our relationship with God more approachable (Hebrews 4:16; 5:9; 6:20; 7:25; 9:14-15). In the Old Testament, man's status with God was one that was under the law, marked by its obligatory and repetitious sacrifices for forgiveness and fellowship. Now, through Christ, our relationship status has changed. We are granted access to God and have become acceptable to Him through the one time sacrifice of Christ. While our status has changed from one that was under the Old Testament law, there are still the elements of faith, obedience, and reverence, in how we approach God because the nature of God is unchanging and He is still deserving all of this because of who He is.
In the immediate context of Hebrews 11:28-29, , the author explains that God will have a final judgment on the earth and that it will ultimately crumble. However, as believers, our promise is that is that we will receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken. It is because of this promise that we should respond to God with gratitude. We do this through worship. The term for worship involves more than simply praising God for what He has done. The Greek term actually refers more to an act of service. The manner in which we are to serve God is one of reverence and awe. The first Greek word for "reverence" is a rare word, only used twice in the New Testament, both times being in the book of Hebrews. It is used to indicate a reverent awe that is intended for God alone (BDAG). The second word used of "awe" is a rare Greek word only used in this instance throughout the entire New Testament. The nuance of it is an"emotion of profound respect and reverence for deity" (BDAG). Therefore, the author uses two rare, but similar words, thus emphasizing the profound respect and adoration in which believers are to serve God. This is the type of worship that is pleasing and acceptable to God because by our attitudes, our service to Him service illustrates His uniqueness and divinity. We do this out of gratefulness for what we have been given.
I want to stop here today and simply pose this question: is today's Church meeting this exhortation? Are we serving God in the manner of reverence and admiration to which we should or are we merely praising Him in the manner in which we are comfortable? Are we worshipping God to please Him or rather to please ourselves? Are our actions and attitudes soliciting a response that show that we serve the One True God? Have we embraced the "approachability" of God through Christ so much that we have neglected His holiness?
I plan to examine over the next several posts what serving God in this manner of reverence and awe should look like played out in real life as well as some other discussions relating to the issue.
The Challenge today is to ask yourself: How am I serving God with reverence and awe in a way that glorifies Him alone?