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General Conference

The Earth Is Shaking

Australia | Zanyta Woodward

We just experienced an earthquake at our house, as many did across Victoria. It was strong and unexpected—the strongest we’ve ever felt here.

Over the past few years, it feels like we have been shaken to the core… by a pandemic that has impacted the whole world. We have learned we can’t trust things in this world; we have learned we can’t rely on our plans; we have even given up making plans because it seems so futile.

Who could have ever expected we would need to wear masks to leave home, have curfews, or be limited to traveling only 5km from our house? Who could have ever predicted we couldn’t visit each other in our own homes or enjoy simple pleasures like sitting with our friends together on a picnic rug, laughing and talking? Who would have ever thought these things could happen in Australia, the safe country?

Our Whole World Feels Unstable

You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai. For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.” No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel. Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain. Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire. (Hebrews 12:18–29, NLT)

In this text, God promises He will shake the heavens and earth so only unshakable things remain. The heavens and earth will be removed and replaced with something new—something eternal that can never be shaken. We know this is one thing on which we can rely. This is one thing on which we can set our hopes and in which we can put our faith. It is solid, dependable, trustworthy, and true.

While it is horrible seeing our world shaking and unstable, maybe it is a good thing for us to learn we can’t pin our hopes on this world. We can focus our eyes on God’s kingdom. It is made up of His people, His living stones—we are already citizens of this eternal kingdom. We have the things that remain: faith, hope, and love. And while it is only appropriate that we grieve and mourn for this world—its sickness, death, atrocities, and loss of freedom—we can live in the midst of all this in the joy God gives us and the knowledge that we have already inherited His kingdom.

What should our response be? Hebrews tell us to “be thankful and please God by worshipping him with holy fear and awe”. While we look around at earthquakes, war, protests, death, and disease, it pleases God that we are thankful and worship Him with holy fear and awe. He has opened our eyes to something bigger and grander: our rock-solid future—a kingdom that can never be shaken. He promises to be with us through it all and will give us the courage and strength to face whatever we need to face.

The original version of this story was posted by Women’s Ministry Lilydale.

 

 

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