Hebrews 12:25-27 Covenant Lawsuit Recognition.
For one more time we see the transition from the first or second person to the third person. Our author again warns his audience with what he is about to write, but then he shifts to the third person, to give the fifth and closing section of the Covenant Lawsuit against the apostates of the old covenant order-Recognition. It is a warning to not “refuse Him who speaks” (v. 25a). The voice from heaven has spoken now for the last time. With the coming of the new covenant the old is done. Given the finality of this transition, people needed to take heed (v. 25b). It is also no coincidence that our author quotes Haggai, because he prophesied of the house of the LORD to come (v. 26 Cf. Hag. 2:6). Haggai addressed the remnant (2:2), and this is the audience who is addressed in this letter.*
The covenant LORD commanded Haggai to ask the people of his day if they had seen the temple in its former glory (v. 3a), because at the time of Haggai they were not as impressed with what stood in their midst (v. 3b). “Verses 1-3 suggest that the people were discouraged by the new temple’s relative lack of splendour (cf. 2Chr. 3; 4) and by the difficulty of the task ahead of them” (NGSB p.1461). At that time the LORD encouraged the governor, the prophet, and the high priest to be strong by addressing them with the covenantal promise-“’I am with you,’ says the LORD of hosts” (v. 4b).** “According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear” (v. 5)! This must be understood as what is behind our author’s citation.
Our author is clearly hearkening back to the beginning of his letter. Like any good author he sought to close on the points he made from the very beginning. The ultimate goal of the covenant of grace, in both its old covenant administrations, and in the new, was the building of His house. “I will be your God and you shall be my people” (Cf. Ex. 6:7; 29:45-46; Lev. 26:12; II Sam. 7:24; Dt. 26:18; Jer. 31:33; 32:38; Ez. 37:26-27; II Cor. 6:16). Furthermore, with Haggai we also have this connection with the title ‘LORD of hosts’, what our author applies to the Son as heir to the throne. Haggai then adds another title to this covenant LORD, namely “the Desire of All Nations” (v. 7). Our author was speaking of the time of shaking spoken of through the prophet Haggai.
The LORD was roaring from Zion, shaking heaven and earth, but He was also a shelter for His people (Cf. Joel 3:16; Is. 51:4-8). “The Desire of All Nations” had come (Cf. Gen. 3:15; 49:10; Mal. 3:1). The greater house is that which would remain, from which the glory of the LORD will never leave (Cf. I Kgs. 8:10-13). This was the glory cloud into which the Son ascended to begin His messianic reign. This was the time when the words of Isaiah came to ultimate fulfillment-“I will glorify the house of My glory” (Is. 60:7 Cf. Zech. 2:5). “As God’s presence fills the temple, the nations come to the light (Is. 2:3-5; 60:3)” (p.1461). This final section of this Covenant Lawsuit-Recognition, recognizes this time of shaking, with the close of the old covenant administrations, and the dawn of the new.
Our author quotes the words, “Yet once more,” and “indicates the removal of those things that are being removed” (v. 27a). That is, not “will be removed,” but in his day were “being removed,” speaking of the soon removal of the earthly Jerusalem, the temple, and the old covenant sacrificial ordinances exercised there, because the new, which can never be shaken, had come. Those things were ultimately made by men, albeit according to the pattern given. It was a time of blessing, but also of cursing (Cf. 1:10; Is. 34:4; 65:17). Mountains symbolize the kingdoms of the world, and as Isaiah also wrote-“the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has mercy on you” (54:10).
*Remnant “is a common term used by the prophets for those of God’s people who remain faithful to Him in the midst of unbelief (Is. 10:22; cf. Zech. 13:9). Paul later points to a faithful remnant in Israel-the Jews who embraced Christ (Rom. 11:5) (NGSB p.1461).
**“Similar commands accompanied the building of Solomon’s temple (1 Chr. 22:13; 28:20; cf. Gal. 6:9)” (Ibid. p.1461).