Let’s talk about some of the differences between the Old Testament and the New.
MIRACLES: The greatest Old Testament miracle is the Red Sea crossing. What did the Israelites get out of it? Freedom from bondage, deliverance from Egypt, a new identity as an autonomous nation, the promise of a land of their own, access to God through His law. The greatest New Testament miracle is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What do we get from it? Freedom from sin, deliverance from the tyranny of time, a new identity as His bride destined for eternal union with Him, the promise of all His possessions, and the total access to Him 24/7 through His grace.
MESSAGE: The greatest message of the Old Testament is that a Messiah is coming – the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15). The entire Old Testament looks forward to His coming. But interestingly, from an Old Testament perspective, the advent of the Messiah signaled not so much an eternal gain, but a temporal gain. The coming Messiah would set straight all injustice, all inequity – especially that leveled against Israel. The greatest message of the New Testament is that the Messiah has come. His coming opens up a whole new dimension of life that far exceeds the temporal. He says it this way, “The kingdom of God is at hand.” Indeed, the King of the kingdom has come.
MARGIN: The greatest definition of God’s relationship to His people in the Old Testament is summed up in one word – separation. Think of it. After Eden, the only hope of access to a Holy God is marked by altars and sacrifices. Moreover, throughout the Old Testament whenever God draws near to His people His proximity is marked by earthquakes, wind, and fire. It’s scary to come near the presence of God in the Old Testament. Many died.
What a difference in the New Testament. From the opening paragraphs, God draws near to people with no margin. Think of it. God in a manger. God in a fishing boat. God in the midst of a crowd. God who is seen and touched. God who is hung on a cross. And God, who is resurrected splendor, offering His body to be touched and embraced.
How is all of this possible? How can a shrouded God become the loving Father with a lap? That’s what we are going to be examining this week in a message entitled “Our Shaker” from Hebrews 12:18-29.
Brennan Manning in his classic book, Ragamuffin Gospel, records the words of his spiritual director, “Brennan, give up trying to look and sound like a saint. It will be a lot easier on everybody.”
That’s a little bit like what the preacher of Hebrews says to those worn and weary Christians. Their lives have been shaken to the core by God. The Cosmic Shaker has rendered them defenseless, yet rather than being a bad thing, it’s a very good thing. We’re going to look at all of that this Sunday.
In preparation for the message, you may wish to consider the following:
1. What do you think of Brennan Manning’s musings on his standing with God when he describes God’s word to him as follows:
“Has it crossed your mind that I am proud of you accepting the gift of faith I offered you? Proud that you freely chose me, after I had chosen you, as your Friend and Lord? Proud that you believed in Me enough to try again and again? Are you aware how I appreciate you for wanting Me? I want you to know how grateful I am when you pause to smile and comfort a child who has lost her way. I am grateful for the hours you devote to learning more about Me; child who has lost her way. I am grateful for the hours you devote to learning more about me; for your visits to the shut-in; for your tears for the mentally challenged. What you did to them, you did to Me. Alas, I am sad when you do not believe that I have totally forgiven you or you feel uncomfortable approaching me.”
2. What is your biblical understanding of suicide?
3. How is Hebrews 12:18-29 rightly described as the rhetorical climax to this sermon to the Hebrews?
4. What do you make of the word “come” in verses 18 & 22?
5. Why does the preacher juxtaposition the Sinai and Zion experience?
6. What was the problem with coming to Sinai?
7. Why is Zion so accessible?
8. What do you make of the imagery in verses 22 & 23?
9. How does Jesus experience the trauma of Sinai for every believer?
10. How can we be assured of an unshakable life in Christ?
See you Sunday!