Have you ever ignored a very obvious warning sign and paid the price? My mind immediately goes to when I was 18, leaving a ski hill in the hills of rural Missouri after a day of heavy snowfall and low temps. I remember driving by the sign at the ski slope’s exit saying “Watch for Ice,” and thinking to myself “like that’d be a problem for me.” As I found out about 5 minutes later, after sliding down a big patch of ice right off the road down a steep hill, it would indeed be a problem for me. Who could’ve seen that coming?
The message of Hebrews 12:12-29 is a reminder that the warning we’ve been given about living focused on the flesh instead of on God’s kingdom. The author uses the Israelites at Mount Sinai as an example: even with the terrors of facing God’s holiness against their own unworthiness, witnessing “thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast” (Ex 16.19), they couldn’t follow God’s command for them despite their terror. Yet while we don’t encounter flaming smoking mountains too often, we’ve encountered Jesus, “mediator of a new covenant”, offering us the gift of eternal life. And the warning is laid bare: Jesus has told us “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens,” removing what can be shaken, leaving only what can not – what is not of this world. The warning signs we’ve been given are clear as day. Yet, even so, many who hear the warning choose not to listen; be it human pride, obstinance, ignorance, or whatever it is, many choose to ignore what Scripture tells us about a life not talking God’s warnings seriously.
Scripture warns us of the danger facing those who turn away from Jesus’ warning. As Galatians 5:21 puts about those living in the flesh versus living in the Spirit: “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Or 1 Corinthians 6:9 tells of those living immorally and unrighteously to themselves & others: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” Those who live such baseless lives are not only destined to be on the receiving end of God’s wrathful judgement, but do so despite so many warnings & Christ’s offer of redemption on our behalf. We are called as believers not just to live just, righteous lives as God commanded His earliest people (“Be holy, because I am holy” – Leviticus 11:45), but to strive for showing others to Christ’s salvation as well through our words and actions as Hebrews 12:14-15 says.
Remaining ever strong & growing in our faith and vigilant against our desires to do things our own misguided ways is not only a lifelong challenge, but one we must take an active role in always; compared to Esau by this passage, who rejected the blessings laid out for him & “found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.” We are called not to be proud & self-reliant as Esau was, but to strive to lean on & serve the Lord, and furthermore, to reflect this in the holiness we demonstrate to others. I pray today for renewal of the strength and perseverance in our walks with the Lord to stay straight on our paths always, and to help & lead others to the Lord as well. I pray that we would take seriously at all times the warnings towards the unrighteousness of man, knowing always that we are to serve the Lord in all we say & do. And I pray for the sharing & growing of the Lord’s kingdom, that His kingdom would continue growing & rejoicing until the day all else is shaken away.