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Things That Cannot Be Shaken

by H. N. Rutherford

(Heb. 12:27-29).

100 Years Ago in Word and Work, July, 2017

“And this word, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken (which cannot be shaken) may remain. Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, whereby we may offer service well pleasing to God with reverence and awe: for our God is a consuming fire.” What majesty there is in these words! They bear the mark of Deity. It would be high-minded presumption for man to utter them; but they become the august speaker. Their original setting is even more magnificent, as we find them in the Book of Haggai: “Thus saith the Lord of Hosts: Yet once it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and sea, and the dry land, and I will shake all nations; and the precious things of all nations shall come; and I will fill the house with glory, saith Jehovah of hosts.” (Hag. 2:6, 7).

These words were first spoken to encourage the Jewish exiles on their return from Babylon to their ruined Temple and city. The elder men wept as they thought of the departed glories of earlier days, and God comforted them, as He delights to comfort those who are cast down. “Fear ye not,” said He in effect: “There is a crisis coming which will test and overthrow all material structures; and in that convulsion the outer form will pass away, however fair and costly it may be, whilst the inner an hidden glory will become more apparent than ever; nay, amid all the sounds of wreck and change, there will come the desire of all nations, the substance of which these material objects are but the fading and incomplete anticipation.” The words quoted above emphatically state that some things cannot be shaken, while others must be entirely removed.


These Hebrew Christians were living in the midst of a great shaking. The Jewish tenure of Palestine was being shaken by the Romans, who claimed it as their conquest. The interpretation given to the Word of God by the rabbis was being shaken by the fresh light introduced through the words and life and death of Jesus. The first Covenant with its rituals, animal sacrifices and casuistries, was becoming old and waxing aged, and nigh unto vanishing away. The first symptoms of this shaking began when Jesus commenced to teach and preach in the crowded cities of Palestine, and all people flocked to Him. The successive throes became more obvious when the Jewish leaders sought to silence the apostles and stay the onward progress of the Church. The Book of Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles are full of evidence of the intensity of that revolution. And the climax of all came in the terrible siege of Jerusalem, when once and forever the Jewish system was shattered, the Temple burned, the remaining vessels sunk in the Tiber, and Jews driven from the city which was absolutely necessary to the maintenance of their religion. The whole New Testament is witness to the throes of one of the mightiest spiritual revolutions that ever happened; as great in the spiritual sphere as the French revolution in the temporal. “And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.”

In such a time we are living now. Everything is being shaken and tested. Old landmarks are crumbling. Venerable foundations are upheaved in a night. Thrones of nations are tottering. Political and economic safeguards go down like wooden fences before an angry sea. The customary foundations of society are shaken. Man’s faith in man is shattered. A writer in a Chicago paper declares that “The very foundations of our faith in human civilization are torn up by the roots as we see this thing—this impious loathsome thing—start on its way.” if this was the judgment of the newspaper writer when this impious loathsome thing called war started on its way, surely his faith in the developments of present time must not only be uprooted, but entirely obliterated. In these days, viewing things from the standpoint of the men of this age, when the unthinkable has become commonplace, the impossible has happened, and common securities have vanished, men and women are whispering the confession of the Psalmist, “My foot slippeth,” circumstances certainly do present a dark picture. The present aspect to those who do not look beyond things temporal can be none other than pessimistic; for who can tell what things are coming upon us, to what these ominous times portend? Where can we find a footing? Where can we stay our souls? Amid the things temporal that must be shaken where are the eternal things that cannot be shaken? I wish to explore the Word of God, to recall some assurances in order that we may stay our souls upon them in the terrible strain and uncertainty through which we are passing, and in which we may have to live for many succeeding days.


There are a few things which cannot be shaken—God’s Word. “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.” God’s Word is the incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth. “For all flesh is as grass, and the glory thereof as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower falleth: but the word of the Lord abideth forever. And this is the word of good tidings which was preached unto you.” (1 Pet. 1:24-26). All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man, his opinions, his pomp and pride, as the flower of grass, beautiful, but evanescent; but the Word of the Lord shall stand forever. Qod’s eternal Truth, shall stand the test for it is indestructible. “Truth crushed to earth shall rise again, The eternal years of God are hers.” “The Words of Jehovah are pure words, as silver tried in a furnace on the earth, purified seven times.” (Psa. 12:6)

Let us not fear modern criticism; not one jot or tittle of God’s Word shall perish; not one grain of truth shall fall to the ground; not one stone in the fortress shall be dislodged. Scripture will shake off all unjust criticism, as the Apostle Paul did the viper which fastened on his hand, and felt no hurt. Emperors have ordered its destruction, mighty bonfires have been kindled with its leaves, and those who read it have been killed, but still the Bible lives and abides. It has been ridiculed, scoffed at, bitterly denounced and mercilessly criticized. Yet it lives.

More than a hundred years ago Voltaire, the great French infidel, said: “I will go through the forest of scriptures and girdle every tree, and in one hundred years it will be an unread book.” But the hundred years have passed and the very house where Voltaire sat when he made the statement is now a Bible house, and the press that printed his words now prints the Bible that he said would not be read!

George Eliot, the great novelist, said of a certain book that had just come from the press: “In fifty years that book will have destroyed the Bible.” The fifty years have passed and that book is forgotten—all except George Eliot’s remark—but the Bible still lives.

Some years ago Bob Ingersoll said of a certain book he wrote: “In twenty years this will crumble the creeds, and man’s faith in Scriptures, and the Bible will be read no more.” But the twenty years are gone, and Ingersoll is gone and almost forgotten, but the Old Book lives and is sold more than any other hundred books combined. The fulfilled predictions of the past— whether threatenings like those which befell the Jews, or promises like those realized in the advent of our Lord—all confirm the certainty that “no word of God is void of power.” Let is give the more earnest heed then to His invitations, warnings, threatenings, and promises, fashioning the whole course of our lives by them, and ever remembering that they are the asseverations of “the King Eternal.” Thus in doing we are likened to the wise man who builded his house upon the rock where neither flood, nor storm blast shall be able to shake and remove us.

God’s Love.—Our friends’ love may be shaken by a rumor, a moment’s neglect, a change in our estate; but God’s love is like Himself, immutable. Father and mother might forsake, but God never. “When my father and my mother forsake me, Then will Jehovah take me up.” The love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord, is unassailable by change or shock. “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (Jude 21).

God’s Eternal Kingdom.—“Wherefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace whereby we may offer service well-pleasing to God with reverence and awe: for our God is a consuming fire.” We who have received the Lord Jesus in obedience of faith are in the Kingdom of the Son of God’s love here and now (Col. 1.13) and in that sense we have received God’s kingdom. We are yet to enter upon another stage or development of this kingdom which is designated as the “heavenly kingdom” (2 Tim. 4:18), the “eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 1:11). Amid all our revolutions and political changes that kingdom is coming. It is now hidden in mystery to the world, but some day it shall be revealed in power. Just as in the case of those who were in distress, and in debt and every one discontented gathered themselves unto David in the Cave of Adullam, and he became their captain; so those who are willing to go forth unto Jesus during the time of His rejection and humiliation, bearing His reproach, being separated from the world’s schemes and politics: we too, like those who were with David in his days of glory and power, shall be with Jesus. “When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with Him be manifested in glory.”

The kingdom of this world is destined to become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ: and he shall reign forever and ever. “The God of heaven shall set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” It cannot be touched by any sudden attack or revolt of human passion. We shall receive “A kingdom that cannot be shaken.”

-H. N. Rutherford, July 1917


Bro. Rutherford was a well-known minister and evangelist of the Churches of Christ.


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That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:10