Hebrews 12:28-29 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire. NKJV
Notice this verse shows us that it takes grace, and it is our responsibility to have the grace with which we can serve God with reverence. There are many people who serve God with all kinds of hidden motives and agendas. But you and I are exhorted to serve Him in a specific way: with reverence and godly fear. And we are provided with serving grace for that purpose!
The Message translation of Heb.12:26-29 puts it this way: “Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. 29 He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!“ Amen. (See Ezkiel 8:2)
How did they approach God in the Old Covenant? Look at
Ex.19:3-22 And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4’You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” (Also read vs.7-22)
This is a type and shadow that’s fulfilled for us in Christ. He has made us kings and priests. (Rev. 1:6; 5:10, 1Peter 2:10) God hasn’t changed. He still wants His own special people, His own set apart special treasure. If you read that entire chapter of Exodus 19, you’ll see that God required for His people be sanctified by washing their bodies and clothes as well as follow other precautions before they came before Him as He manifested His glory. It was a physical way of showing reverence. God was not trying to be scary and mean to the Israelites. He’s just a Holy and pure God. He wanted to protect them. Has His standards of holiness changed?
Remember that without the shed Blood of the Lamb on the mercy seat speaking on our behalf, without His grace in place, in our fallen state, we would never have been able to approach a holy God. Our God, being holy, pure and perfect still requires perfection in His presence. In the New Covenant, He warns us that He is a consuming fire; so we can come to Him with respect and awe. This is because even through we live in an age of grace, His presence is still destructive of evil. What does fire do? It burns the chaff and stubble. It doesn’t burn up gold – a type of His glory. He wants you to be safe in His presence, so He waits for you to sanctify yourself before He can release more of His glory. You and I can actually initiate some greater manifestations of His glory if we will receive enough grace to serve God with reverence. Papa Hagin used say that they had greater manifestations of the Spirit in the older days than these days. And they had greater reverence of the things of God too. That’s why.
In this New Covenant of grace, God invites us to His throne because Jesus through His Blood gave us access. (Heb. 4:16) It is now a throne of grace. But how do we come before Him? Heb. 12:18-29 shows us that though we don’t come to a physical smoking mountain, we have come to Jesus, to His church and to His Blood that speaks better things, Holy things. It says He will still once more shake heaven and earth, to remove things that can be shaken. So, we must still come to Him with reverence. And then we’ll see His manifest presence grow in our midst.