Sabbath School Lesson for March 12-18, 2022

Overview for Lesson 12

How do we receive citizenship in God’s unshakable Kingdom? We discover some keys to this achievement in this week’s lesson, which tells us…

  • what happens on Mount Zion, and who will be there (Sunday)
  • why judgment is such good news for believers (Monday)
  • how and why are the heavens and earth shaken (Tuesday)
  • what and who can not be shaken (Wednesday)
  • what kind of worship is appropriate for such a benevolent and powerful God (Thursday)

We find at the end of Hebrews 12, words that tell the Hebrews just what God expects of His followers. The final prize that Paul has been calling them to be mindful of is described in glorious terms, along with their need to hold onto their faith just a little while longer. There will be great rejoicing in God’s Kingdom when the Day of the Lord finally arrives and they stand victorious before the throne of God.

Memory Text: “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.” Hebrews 12:28 NKJV

In Hebrews 12:22-24 we see Jesus portrayed in all His kingly glory; a large company of angels attend Him. He is called the Mediator of a new covenant, which reminds us of His status as our High Priest there too. And central to this glorious scene is God, the Judge of all, calling attention to the purpose of this assembly.

What is reassuring about this imagery is the declaration that God’s Kingdom is unshakable, along with those who have chosen to worship and serve the Creator. How we serve Him now will determine whether we serve Him in the Kingdom above, in the New Jerusalem.

Sunday: “You Have Come to Mount Zion”

Looking a little deeper at Hebrews 12:22-24, there are some questions that come to mind. Who exactly has come to this heavenly scene at Mount Zion, and why are they there?

Verse 22 pinpoints the location of this grand celebration. It is referred to as heavenly Jerusalem, and there are throngs of angels there, innumerable, or too many to count. It feels like the inauguration of a King, and it obviously is in heaven.

Verse 23 mentions others in this assembly–a “church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven” and also “spirits of just men made perfect”. Jesus is also called the Firstborn. See Colossians 1:15, 18, Revelation 1:5, and Psalm 89, 27. Therefore, as His inheritors, the church becomes the firstborn who are given perfect bodies at the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6). Notably, they are registered in the books of heaven, entitling them to citizenship there.

Verse 24 brings another reason for such rejoicing. Besides being a kingly inauguration, this is a priestly service and inauguration. Jesus, the Mediator of a new and better covenant, provides another reason for God’s people to celebrate.

Bible Verses to Explore:

Hebrews 12:22

  • Where is Mount Zion, pictured here?

Hebrews 12:23

  • Besides angels, who else are there celebrating?

Hebrews 12:24

  • What is special about the new covenant?

Monday: You Have Come to God, the Judge of All

The fact that God’s role as Judge is mentioned in this particular passage in Hebrews 12 reminds us of a similar scene in Daniel 7:9, 10, 13-22. Daniel envisioned a judgment in heaven where the books of heaven are opened. Paul’s account, of course, includes the presence of Jesus, the Mediator of a new covenant.

There appears to be a celebratory atmosphere as this judgment takes place. Revelation 14:6, 7 speaks of the gospel, or good news, being proclaimed, with the first announcement being that of a judgment. It’s a cause for us to worship, or give glory, to the one who judges us.

Believers, those who fear God, have no worries when it comes to the judgment. We can rely on our Mediator and Judge to rule favorably and vindicate us from Satan’s accusations. Deuteronomy 32:36 has these comforting words: “For the Lord will judge His people and have compassion on His servants.”

Adventists, in our study of the sanctuary, have come to believe that a pre-Advent judgment has already begun in heaven. The end of the 2,300-day prophecy in Daniel 8:14, when the cleansing of the sanctuary would start, happened in 1844. It is our understanding that judgment of the righteous has therefore already begun, with the righteous first being investigated and their cases decided (1 Peter 4:17). After all, when Jesus comes to take us home with Him (John 14:3), all cases will have been decided, for He brings His reward with Him (Revelation 22:12).

Bible Verses to Explore:

Hebrews 12:22-24 and Daniel 7:9, 10, 13, 14, 21, 22

  • Who is in the audience of this court scene and why are they celebrating?

Tuesday: Shake the Heavens and the Earth

Throughout the Bible, stories are told of earthquakes and shakings of the earth. Whenever God is near to relieve the oppressed, assert His authority, or deliver justice, the earth shakes to some degree. On Mount Sinai, or when Peter was freed from prison, and even when Jesus died on the cross, an earthquake was witnessed and recorded.

And yet, Hebrews 12:28 speaks of a Kingdom which cannot be shaken. God’s Kingdom will not be moved. And neither will His people. Psalm 16:8 says, “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” Jesus is said to be at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2), and if we are brought to heaven to be with Him, to sit with Him in this unshakable Kingdom, then we will be at a place that cannot be moved either.

Some day, referred to as the Day of the Lord, the earth and heavens will shake (Hebrews 12:26 and Haggai 2:6). Justice will be witnessed by the whole universe when God finally eradicates sin and unrighteousness. All but those close to God will tremble with fear at the prospect of the punishment that will come as a result of their own choice of whom to worship.

Bible Verses to Explore:

Hebrews 12:26, 27, Haggai 2:6-9, Psalm 96:9, 10, and 99:1

  • What does it mean when it says that the heavens will be shaken, as well as the earth, on that final day of reckoning?

Wednesday: An Unshakable Kingdom

Let’s not forget that this shaking will result in a wonderful creative act that will replace those things that are shaken (Isaiah 65:17). Hebrews 12:27 says those shaken will not only be moved, but will be removed. A cleansing fire, along with the shaking, will make this possible. See 2 Peter 3:10-13.

The Bible does not leave us guessing about who will not be shaken, moved, and removed with fire. Psalm 15:5 says he will be honest, he will trust God (Psalm 21:7), be righteous (Psalm 112:6), and be someone who is close to God (Psalm 16:8).

Jesus plays a major part in this Kingdom. We must stay close to Him, who remains and will not be changed (Hebrews 1:10-12). His priesthood, we are told, lasts forever (Hebrews 7:3, 24). He invites us to be citizens of this Kingdom even now, while we wait eagerly for His plan to unfold (Philippians 3:20).

Psalm 46 talks about this shaking time, but concludes that we should “be still” and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). “Be still” as in “don’t be shaken”. Hold on to God.

Bible Verses to Explore:

2 Peter 3:10-13 and Isaiah 65:17

  • What is the purpose of the shaking?

Psalm 15:5, 16:8, 21:7, and 112:6

  • What kind of person will not be shaken or moved?

Hebrews 1:10-12 and Philippians 3:20

  • How does being in Christ prevent us from being moved or shaken?

Thursday: Let Us Be Grateful

We come now to the last part of our memory text (Hebrews 12:28)–“by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” What does this worship service look like?

Paul goes on to explain this worship in the next chapter, which will be examined more closely in next week’s study. It is summed up nicely in Hebrews 13:15, 16 though. We find there that the sacrifices we can give to God are our confession and praise of His name, thanks for all He’s done for us, and our good works. These sacrifices, when coming from the heart, are pleasing to God, we are told.

These elements of worship have been presented all through Hebrews:

  • confession, praise, and thanksgiving (Hebrews 3:1, 4;14, and 10:23)
  • good works (Hebrews 6:10, 13:1, 2, 16)

Simply put, what we say and what we do show our desire to glorify God. These are the ways we praise God and give thanks for His plan to save us. He freely gives us love, and we respond in love, by giving Him our praise and service.

Bible Verses to Explore:

Hebrews 12:28 and 13:15, 16

  • What kind of worship is acceptable to God?

Friday: Summary

It’s easy to see the love of God through the life and death of God’s own Son, Jesus Christ. The mercy of God shines forth from the cross of Calvary with unspeakable clarity to undeserving humanity.

But there’s another feature of God’s character that balances and further supports that love. His justice is transparent and complete, and the punishment of evildoers is just and merciful. Both sides of God’s character, His justice and mercy, makes for an unshakable Kingdom that all who are close to Him will enjoy, when the plan of salvation is complete.

Before God pronounces a verdict, we have seen that He thoroughly investigates the cases. He searched the Garden of Eden to find our first parents after they had sinned, hoping to hear from them words of repentance for what they had done. Before executing judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, He visited with Abraham, assuring him that angels would be sent to discover if there were enough of His followers there to avert the disaster that was coming upon their cities.

Before Jesus returns in the clouds of glory, there must be an investigative judgment occurring in heaven to determine who will be lost and who will be saved. He brings His reward with Him when He comes (Isaiah 62:11 and Revelation 22:12).

But the judgment isn’t over yet. The saints will have a thousand years to do their own investigative judgment work. See Revelation 20:4, 12 and 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3. We will have an opportunity to go over the books of heaven and verify that the verdict and punishment that sin demands is truly the most just and merciful outcome for the universe.

The foundation of God’s Kingdom is firm and unshakable, as this song proclaims–“How Firm a Foundation”.

You might also enjoy this sermon by Mark Finley that talks about the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11. It will help in understanding what faith is and how we can avoid discouragement by looking forward to His unshakable Kingdom.