This language such as “Yet once more I Shake not only the earth, but also heaven,” (Heb. 12:26b), or “the Heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent hear;” (2 Pet. 3:10b), is Hebrew Metaphoric Hyperbole Apocalyptic talk (exaggerative symbolic language). This is the same language you will find from looking at some of these passages in our eschatology “Study Series 5” about being a Hebrew in the Old Covenant (OC), and understanding the audience relevance and their language.
Let us look at some of this language as described in the Bible:
- Isa. 13:6-13 “Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand; as destruction from the Almighty it will come!… and every human heart will melt…They will look aghast at one another; their faces will be aflame. Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heavens and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity… Therefore I will make the heavens tremble, and the earth will be shaken out of its place…”
- Isa. 13:1 properly puts into context that this was referring to just Babylon’s world that was coming to an end, “The oracle concerning Babylon which Isaiah the son of Amoz saw.” Then vs. 17 and 19, “Behold, I am stirring up the Medes against them… And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendor and pomp of the Chaldeans, will be like Sodom and Gomorrah when God overthrew them.”
- 2 Sam. 22:8-16, “”Then the earth shook and quaked; the foundations of heaven were trembling and were shaken, because He was angry. “Smoke went up out of His nostrils, Fire from His mouth devoured; Coals were kindled by it. “He bowed the heavens also, and came down with thick darkness under His feet…He appeared on the wings of the wind. And He made darkness canopies around Him, a mass of waters, thick clouds of the sky…the foundations of the world were laid bare By the rebuke of the LORD, At the blast of the breath of His nostrils.”
- The foundations of the literal heavens never trembled, nor did God bow down the heavens and come down and has feet, nor did He appear on the wings of the wind. In vs. 1 David plainly explains what was meant by the Hebrew language’s nuances and metamorphic description of how God defended him from His enemies and Saul, (2 Sam. 22:1) “And David spoke the words of this song to the LORD in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.”
- Joel 2:10 says, “The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness…for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible…”
- This was speaking of the coming judgement from the Lord by sending the Babylonian army to destroy Jerusalem and take the people away into captivity in 586 BC. Jerusalem’s rulers and heavens trembled – their king, princes and sun, moon, stars diminished their brightness. (Notice how Jerusalem’s sun, moon and stars were not completely destroyed or gone dark, as they had been spoken of being completely gone for Babylon in Isaiah 13. We must understand the significance of why the Lord inspired the scriptures to be recorded like this –> Jerusalem was not completely judged and destroyed in 586 BC. They were diminished, as they went into captivity, but their final full destruction would not be until AD 70)
- Heb. 12:26-28, “Whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken…”
- The first question I would ask is – when did God ever physically literally destroy the entire planet in the past? – Never! So where does anyone have biblical precedence to apply this same phrase to be fulfilled in a different way than the Bible has shown us it was done in the past – especially when God says He will “yet once more,” clearly indicating that that someone can look back to see where and what it was describing from the previous times this language and phrase was used?
- It is also important to understand that this was written to 1st century Hebrew Christians, and they are being told that the “heavens and earth” are being shaken right there, right in their time (vs. 28). The old heavens and earth cosmological world order was obsolete and presently being dismantled…and just a few years away from that time was about to be completely destroyed and removed forever in AD 70.
- While in past judgments from God He shook the earth when He would use one nation to carry out His vengeance on another –> the promise for this next time was that not only would there be judgment poured out to shake the earth, but that He also would shake the things in the spiritual heavenly realm as well. While at the cross the Lord disarmed and made a spectacle triumphing over the spiritual forces (Col. 2:14-15), He then ascended to His throne in heaven where He reigned and brought all those spiritual forces and principalities and enemies under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25). After which time He would return a second time consummating a complete changing of the heavens and earth government world order (cosmology).
- In Daniel 7:13-14 it pictures Jesus ascending to the Father to receive the Kingdom. In Luke 19, Jesus similarly teaches that a nobleman went to a foreign country to receive a Kingdom (at the ascension), and then when he returned to reign over that country he destroyed those who did not want him as their King (Luke 19:12-15, 27). In the parable of the vineyard owner (Matt. 21, Mark 12, Luke 20), Jesus states that the Kingdom will be taken away from the Jews and given to a new nation producing the fruit of it. Here we see that the saints did not take full possession of the Kingdom until it was taken from the Jews and given to the Church in AD 70.
- Hebrews 12:26-28 corresponds to the consummation period of Daniel 7 where we see Christ having received the Kingdom upon His ascension to His Father and then reigning “in the midst of His enemies” (Psa. 110:1-2; Acts 2:29, 34-35; Heb. 10-12-13; Psa. 2) until He “put all of His enemies under His feet” (1 Cor. 15:25). Daniel 7:22 speaks of the end of the millennial reign of the Son of Man when He returned with the Ancient of Days and the Kingdom where the saints then took full possession of the Kingdom à consummated in AD 70. While it is true that the saints “were receiving” (present tense) the Kingdom in a provisional sense before AD 70, they really did not take full possession of it until it was officially taken away from the Jews and given to the Church in AD 70.
- The Kingdom those 1st century saints provisionally possessed was soon going to be consummated in the New Heavens and Earth under a new arrangement of the universe, both in the unseen realm of heaven and in the seen realm on earth. The invisible realities of His “one eternal Kingdom” emanates in the unseen realm from heaven, and manifests itself on earth through the visible Church. The New Heavens and Earth is a new government (Kingdom) and new world order of things both in the SEEN and UNSEEN realms, all based on the redemptive work of Christ. The old arrangement of the world, which was based on the sacrificial system (instituted since the fall in the garden where the Lord Himself slayed the first animal to cloth Adam and Eve, and seen codified under the Mosaic Old Covenant), was empty, obsolete and passed away, and Christ’s new world order (kosmos) or administration (oikonomia) was set up.
See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:
Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 5 Being a Hebrew…Audience Relevance”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 5b Hebraic Language Symbolism”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 6 Old Covenant Hebrews in the New Testament Times”]