“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.” (Hebrews 12:28–29, AV)
A few years ago, my son and I were sitting in our living room in Portsmouth NH. We were watching television in the evening when everything started shaking. Yes, the whole house was moving. It seemed to last for about a minute, but was probably only about 15-20 seconds. Then after a short Pause it happened again. It was a rare occurrence in Portsmouth to have an earthquake that was so noticeable. Ok, it was mild, but noticeable. Earthquakes of much larger magnitude have occurred around the world, ones that have caused much destruction and death.
Here the author of Hebrews takes his readers back to the experience the Jews had at Mount Sinai (v26).
“And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.” (Exodus 19:18, AV)
He reminds them that the Lord shook the mountain with His manifest presence. He then goes on to quote Haggai to indicate that a time is coming when the Lord will shake not only the mountain, but the entire earth and the heavens in a time of great judgment (v26). He goes on to indicate that only the things that cannot be shaken will remain (v27). Peter wrote of a time to come when the heavens would pass away and the earth and its works would pass away in fervent heat (2 Pet 3:10).
Yes, a day of judgment is coming when everything will pass away except for those things which are unshakeable. So, what is unshakeable? The only things that are unshakeable are those things which are eternal. This includes the Triune God, His kingdom and those who belong to His kingdom (v28). Those who belong to His kingdom are all who have eternal life, those who have come to true faith in Jesus.
We who believe have been stirred to faith but can never be shaken. Thus, we should be exceedingly grateful for we have not received it based upon our goodness or good works. We have received membership to this unshakeable kingdom by God’s grace alone. Thus, our natural response should be to offer acceptable worship to God.
The verb translated “may serve” is latreuo, which is a word that pictures the service of worship performed by the priesthood in offering sacrifices. Thus, the ESV translates the phrase, “let us offer to God acceptable worship.” Perhaps it would be best to combine the thought to “service of worship.”
In Romans, Paul uses the noun latreia, which is from latreuo to explain how we respond to God’s mercy and grace. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1, AV). In this aspect of worship, we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God, giving up on our own fleshly passions and being fully devoted to God who brought us into His kingdom. The author of Hebrews goes on to say that we are to offer to God this service of worship with reverence and awe.
The big point is that we do this because we have been stirred to faith and thus will never be shaken.