Things that Cannot Be Shaken


Things that Cannot Be Shaken

March 6th, 1960 @ 10:50 AM

Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Hebrews 12:26-27

3-06-60     10:50 a.m.


On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message entitled Things Which Cannot Be Shaken.  The reading of the text is in Hebrews 12:25:

See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh.  For if they escaped not who refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven:

Whose voice then shook the earth:  but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

For our God is a consuming fire.


The text for tonight is, "For our God is a consuming fire"; the message at seven-thirty this evening.  The message at this eleven o’clock hour is in Hebrews 12:26-27:


Whose voice then shook the earth:  but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.


This is one of the great royal texts of the Bible, as inexhaustible as the God who inspired it.  It was true then in that first century, true again in the fifth century, true again in the twelfth century, true again in the sixteenth century, true again in the vast convulsions of our twentieth century, and shall be true until that day when God shall create the new heavens and the new earth, when the old heavens and the old earth shall be burned up with fire.  This text is the apostolic interpretation of the convulsions of human history.  It was written in that awful and trying time when the Roman legions were hammering at the gates of Jerusalem, and when the temple and its services and the nation and its organic unity was being destroyed by a heathen and a foreign power.  In the wreck of the nations and of the empires, the author avows that there is a foundation that endures forever.  He says that there is an everlasting kingdom that shall abide and endure, when the heavens are rolled up like a scroll and when the earth is burned up with unquenchable fire.  He says that the King of that everlasting dominion is none other that Jesus the Christ; that we have in Him an eternal and changeless kingdom, and in Him an eternal and changeless King.  This is the gospel that is preached by this author to all succeeding generations.

"Whose voice then shook the earth," speaking of the coming down of the Almighty God on top of the mount that burned with fire, "Whose voice then shook the earth:  but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth, but also heaven."  He is quoting a text from the Book of Haggai.  The second chapter of Haggai, beginning at the ninth, beginning at the sixth verse:  "For thus saith the Lord of hosts;" and you who have listened to Handel’s Messiah will recognize the text:

For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, in just a little while, I will shake the heaven[s], and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land;

And I will shake all nations, and the Desire of All Nations shall come:  and I shall fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.

The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former, saith the Lord:  and in this place will I give peace

[Haggai 2:6-7, 9]


As you know, Haggai lived in the day of the return from the Babylonian captivity.  And they stood in the midst of one of those world convulsions:  Jerusalem lay in ruins, its walls were cast down flat, the temple, the glorious temple of Solomon was burned with fire, and in despair the people looked upon that scene of endless desolation.  The old men wept as they recalled to mind the former glories of Solomon and of the worship of the temple.  It was in that day and that tragic hour that the Lord God sent his prophet Haggai to say, "This is the shaking of the Lord.  And in the midst of this convulsion the Desire of All Nations shall come," referring to the great appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.  "And this house that is desolate and cast down and destroyed, I will raise up; and its glory shall be greater than its former glory."  What a marvelous interpretation!  What a marvelous history.  What an incomparable hope, when the man of God stands in the midst of the wreckage of empires and of kingdoms, and the desolation of hopes and dreams and civilizations, and he says, "These things, these convulsions of time and of history are none other things than the shakings of God, that the things that can be shaken may be removed, and that the things that endure may belong to the eternities of heaven."

That little group in that day, that little congregation, this little Hebrew Christian church stood in the midst of one of the direst convulsions this earth has ever seen.  They stood in the midst of the shaking of their theological and their spiritual world.  The interpretation of the rabbis of the Holy Word of God was being shaken by the new light shed on the Scriptures in the preaching of the apostles of the Son of God.  They were declaring that Jesus was greater than Moses; they were avowing that the covenant of grace was greater than the covenant of the law; they were saying that the sacrifices of the temple but were types and adumbrations of the more precious sacrifice in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.  The supremacy of the temple was being shaken by the erection of the temple of the body of Christ, the true temple of the Lord.  The observance of the Sabbath day was being shaken by the observance of the first day of the week, the worship of Jesus our Lord.  The hand of God was outstretched to shake all things spiritual, ecclesiastical, all things religious.  "For," said these apostles of Christ, "these visible temples and these visible sacrifices and these visible ordinances God is sweeping away in order that He might bring in the eternities of the truth of Jesus Christ."  The whole New Testament is a testimony to the tremendous spiritual convulsions of that awesome day and that awesome hour.

But as though that were not enough, there was converging on the beloved city of God the legions of a foreign and heathen power:  the conquest of Rome had begun.  And these people of God with fearful hearts were standing before the greatest destruction this earth has ever seen:  the destruction of the hopes, and lives, and faith, and prayers of a whole nation and a whole people of God.  Josephus describes that awful hour in his "Wars" and in his "Antiquities".  Josephus says that there was an awesome thing that happened:  for days before the destruction of Jerusalem an angel from heaven was seen and heard flying through the streets of the city, crying, "Woe, woe to the doomed city!"  And those Roman legions gathering slew the inhabitants of Judea and Jerusalem; they burned the temple down with fire; and those who escaped the edge of the sword were sold into slavery or scattered to the four winds of the earth.  The hearts of men cried, "Has God abdicated?"  The hearts of men cried, "Has God never existed?"  In the midst of the flames, lurid and burning, in the midst of the fires that consumed and destroyed, in the midst of the marching conquest of the heathen army of the Roman legionnaires, this author lifted up his voice to say, "God is touching nothing of eternal worth or of eternal value.  The great God of the heavens is but shaking those things that may be moved, that the things that are eternal may remain forever."  My soul, my soul, what an interpretation of the course of human history and what a message for us who live in this frightful and fearful day and face the inevitable challenge of an awful and ultimate hour.

He mentions four things in the passage that I also mention this morning; things that cannot be shaken, things that shall remain forever.  "Whose voice then shook the earth:  but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but the heaven:  And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things made," things human, things mundane and temporal, things of the now and here, "that those things which cannot be shaken," that the eternities of God, "may remain."  He mentions four things.  His first, the Word of God; "Him that speaketh."  God has had a word for mankind through the generations and through the ages.  God had a word for Israel, groaning in bondage in the slavery of Egypt.  God had a word through His prophet Haggai to the Babylonian captives.  God had a word to His people in this awful hour, when Jerusalem was being destroyed, and the temple worship was being taken away.  And God has a word for us in our day and in our time.  And God has a word for His children in that ultimate conflagration and holocaust that shall destroy the old earth and the old heaven.  And that word abides!  That word remains.  "Heaven and earth may pass away, but My word shall never pass away,The flower fadeth, the grass withereth, but the word and promise of our God shall endure forever and forever" [Isaiah 40:8].  This Word with its great and exceeding and precious promises is for us.  This is the timeless Book.  This Book is never outmoded, invalidated, outdated.  It is not the book of the month, it is the Book of the ages; the enduring, indestructible Word of the living God.

In the third century, Diocletian sought to exterminate it.  Then Celsus arose to undermine it.  Then Porphyry cast against it his vindictive, violent, vitriolic shafts of burning arrows.  And then Hume softly ridiculed it and scorned it.  Then Voltaire assaulted it again and again.  Then Thomas Paine sought to drown in it infidel ink.  And Bob Ingersoll and Bradlaugh heaped scorn and laughter upon it.  And today, censorious critics with their pen knives seize to cut it up and to deface and to destroy this only franchise of our Christian hopes.  But through the passing of the years and of the centuries, all of them together have not taken away one twig from its vast forest; they have not dampened one spark of its perpetual fires; they have not slackened one pace of its step toward an ultimate and final and triumphant victory; nor have they been able to take away one string from its harp, nor have they been able to tear one hole in the vesture of its garment.  This Book today, after the passing of the centuries of attack, walks more bypaths, travels more highways, speaks to more in their native tongue than any other book or all books together ever written in the history of mankind.  Voltaire one time wrote, "One hundred years from now and the Bible will be an extinct Book."  One hundred years to the day after that, in an auction in London, a ninety-five volume set of Voltaire bound in calfskin was auctioned off for eight shillings, two dollars.  And at the same time, the British government paid the czars of Russia four hundred thousand dollars for Codex Sinaiticus, a copy of the Greek New Testament, which you can see now gloriously in the British Museum.  Isn’t it a marvelous thing how history has a habit of judging men?  "Shaking all things, that the things that may be moved may be taken away, and that the things that cannot be moved may remain."  The Word of God.

The second thing he names here is God’s love and God’s care.  "For he Hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."  Our lives are being shaken.  Sometimes to the depths of our souls our lives are being shaken.  "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."  A man wins a great victory when he can stand in the midst of death, or in the midst of desolation, or in the midst of ruined dreams, or in the midst of a ruined destiny and say, "But I have my hand on something that endures":

For we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." 

For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord

[Romans 8:38-39].


"For He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" [Hebrews 13:5].  Standing by is God in the midst of all time and trial and trouble and desolation.  The Christian does not say, "I understand all the meaning of suffering;" but the Christian does say "My life is in God’s hands, and he has permitted these providences that overwhelm me that the dross and the hay and the wood and the stubble of my life may be burned up, that the gold and the precious stones of what God has in me might endure forever, "For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

In this last war, we heard much of Narvik, a seaport in Norway that was seized by the Germans, and then bombed again and again and again by the British Air Force.  Upon a time, the mayor of Narvik was standing in the midst of his city, surrounded by newspaper reporters, and they asked him, "How, how, living in a desolation like that and seeing their whole city blotted out," and the mayor, looking around at the vast ruin of all they had loved, then lifted his eyes up to the eternal snowcapped mountains of God and simply replied, "The sentinels of heaven are still with us."  That the fleeting shadow might be destroyed and taken away, that the enduring substance might remain; that things shaken might be removed, that the things that cannot be shaken may endure forever.  "For He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."  What are the things that cannot be shaken?  He names a fourth one:

We are not come unto Mount Sinai, the mount that trembled and quaked, that if one touched he’d be destroyed; but we are come to the heavenly Jerusalem, to an enumerable company of angles, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, whose names are written in glory, and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, to His blood that speaketh better things than that of Abel

[Hebrews 12:22-24]


And to Jesus, the things that cannot be removed, that abide forever.  And to Jesus – towering above the wrecks of time, towering above the passing of the centuries, towering above the dissolutions of kingdoms and empires – there,  the holy majestic living form of the Son of God, whom John saw when exiled on the isle of Patmos to die of privation and starvation.  He heard a great voice, "Turning to see Him that spake, saw seven golden candlesticks, and the in the midst one like unto the Son of God," the enduring, abiding Son of God [Revelation 1:12-13].  Moses fades away.  The prophets and the apostles fade away.  All the great men who have lived in time or in tide fade away.  But He looms larger and greater and mightier with the passing generations and with the passing centuries.  Christ may exhaust this world, but this world will never, ever exhaust Christ, the enduring, living Son of God, our Lord, our Savior, our King, and our God.

Ah, what a foundation, what a hope, "Yet once more, signifying the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things temporal and made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain."  Death, the grave, all of the disappointments of the dreams and hopes of this life; but there, beyond it all, stands the towering, holy, lordly, living figure of Jesus, the Son of God.

A group of newspaper boys were huddled in a little shack in Philadelphia, waiting for their bundles of papers to be sold on the streets.  They had enough money to buy a little cheap radio.  And in the providence of God, strange, their favorite program was a preacher over there named George Palmer.  He had a theme song, one that you know:  "Jesus Never Fails"; sang it every one of his broadcasts, every early morning hour.  The boys loved it.  And when George Palmer the preacher said, "To the one who will write, I will give a little plaque, ‘Jesus Never Fails’."  There’s a little Jewish boy in the group, listening to the broadcasts, whose heart God had touched, and he’d taken Jesus as Savior.  He wrote to the preacher, saying, "Send us the plaque, ‘Jesus Never Fails’."  When the plaque came, the little boy put it on top of the radio.  Sometime after that, the preacher got a letter from the group of newsboys, and they said, "Our little friend has died, but we wanted you to know that we took the plaque and put it by his body in the casket."  And in their unsophisticated way, they said to that preacher, "One of your plaques has gone up to heaven."  It was their way of telling that in life and in death that little boy had proved the hope in Christ, "Jesus, who never fails."

"That things made, temporal, of time, may be removed; that the things that cannot be shaken may remain," Jesus never fails.

And he mentions one more:  "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved," that’s the fourth one:  the kingdom which cannot be moved.  "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, that we serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear."  A kingdom which cannot be moved; then all other kingdoms are going to be moved.  All other empires and dynasties and governments and nations are going to be shaken.  And this earth itself is going to be burned up with fire.

By the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out in the water, and in the water whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.  But the heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word of God, are kept in store, reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment

 [2 Peter 3:5-7]


God says that all of the temporalities, the kingdoms, the glories of men in this earth, shall be destroyed by fire.  And that is in keeping with the great prophecy uttered by Daniel, whom Jesus called "a prophet", when he said:

And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed.  And the kingdom shall not be left to other people, it shall break in pieces and consume all those kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.  Forasmuch as thou showest that the stone was cut out of them mountain without hands, that it break in pieces, the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, the gold, the great God hath made known to the king the things that shall come to pass

 [Daniel 2:44-45]


And I saw in the night, visions, and behold One like the Son of Man come with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him, and there was given unto Him, unto Him, unto Jesus our Lord and our King, there was given unto Him dominion and glory and a kingdom that all people and nations and languages should serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away.  And His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed

[Daniel 7:13-14]


And the author of the Hebrews says that we have received it:  "Wherefore we having received a kingdom which cannot be destroyed" [Hebrews 12:28].  We may be incidentally Texans, we may be incidentally citizens of Dallas, we may be incidentally citizens of America, but our earthly citizenship shall pass away.  It shall be destroyed in time, in death, in the grave, in senility and age, at the end of life; and ultimately, in the providence of God, this whole world in which we live shall be burned up with fire, taken away, swept away, that God may create a new heaven and a new earth.  But there is a kingdom that shall endure, beyond life, beyond tide, beyond time, beyond the great judgment, beyond the fires of dissolution.  There is a kingdom that abides forever!  And these things God shakes, and these things of temporalities God burns up, and these things of this world God takes away in order that He might bring in His new and everlasting kingdom that shall endure forever.  He says we are citizens of that kingdom:  "We have received the kingdom which cannot be moved."  We are children of the resurrection.  We belong to the people of the Lord who walk through the golden streets.  Our citizenship is in heaven, from whence we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change this vile body that it may be conformed to the glorious image and body of the Son of God.  Our citizenship is in heaven.  We belong to an upper and a greater and a mightier kingdom that can never be destroyed.

Oh, "Then let us have grace to serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear."  It is for us, we, "Let us have grace," confidence, hope, persuasion, assurance.  "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; for the path of the just is as a shining light that shineth fairer, brighter, and more glorious; even unto that perfect and consummating day,Let us have grace," assurance, faith, having received from God this everlasting and enduring kingdom; in it now, citizens of it now; our names enrolled in glory now, just waiting for that ultimate and final consummation, when what I have in my heart by faith becomes the reality, the actuality of that glorious city that comes down out of heaven from God.

This is our Christian persuasion, our Christian hope, our Christian commitment:  beyond this life and this day and this earth and this temporality, the enduring Lord and the changeless kingdom.  That’s the good news of the gospel.  My brother, come, welcome.  Come, welcome.  For you, let us receive that grace, we who belong to the kingdom.

In this balcony round, somebody you; on this lower floor, somebody you, "Pastor, by faith and in trust, I enroll as a citizen of the coming and enduring kingdom of our Lord, looking to Him, looking to Him."  "There’s a family of us this morning, who are coming, pastor, and here we are."  To that top most balcony, on either side, down one of these stairwells, here to the front, or somebody on this lower floor, a family you, as the Spirit of Jesus shall make the appeal, shall press the cause, shall open the door, would you make it now?  Would you make it this morning?  "Here I come, pastor, here I am.  I give you my hand, I give my heart to God."  Will you make it on the first note of the first stanza?  "Here I am, here I come."  While we stand and while we sing.