A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance
by Steve West
Editor’s Note: Most of our readers will already be at least somewhat acquainted with John Owen (1616-1683), “the prince of Puritans,” but it is not likely that many have read him extensively. His works are not only voluminous – they are tightly packed and deeply considered. Owen is neither quick nor light reading!
Today we continue our year-long series of summaries of Owen’s famous works. We trust these will be of help in introducing and/or increasing your acquaintance with this giant Puritan theologian.
Summary, Part 2
Sermon V: The Shaking and Translating of Heaven and Earth
[Hebrews 12:27 “And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.”]
The aim of this epistle is to keep professing believers from moving back to Judaism. In every age, we need to urge and exhort for perseverance, and this is a most difficult thing. God promises to keep his saints. It is his promise and our duty to persevere, so he gives what he promises to enable us to fulfill our duty. The apostle sets forth the glorious nature of the author of these promises. God has revealed himself through Christ, and Christ has accomplished salvation, from justification to sanctification to glorification. Christ and the power and end of the gospel are held out to the people for their encouragement. His goodness and love are held out with his greatness and power.
There is a debate about what it is that will be shaken. It is clear that the shaking will be greater than the revelation on Sinai, and it is promised rather than yet fulfilled. Haggai said that God would shake the heavens and earth of the nations, and the heavens of nations are metaphorical. It is the heights of their power and systems, built on the multitudes. The “earth” is frequently used to connote the people of the earth. When the sky, heavens, stars, and moon are rolled up and shaken in the prophets, it is the nations that are so treated—it is God rending the fabric of the political establishment. In Revelation, the pagan-Romish state is depicted in this cosmic imagery. Previous to the establishment of Christ’s glorious kingdom, these civil states shall be shaken. As Rome persecuted the truth in the early church, now the beast of Rome continues in new form in the papacy and will be destroyed in this shaking. “Removing” is better rendered as “translating,” meaning not that the nations will be annihilated, but that they will be reformed for Christ and purified.
“Those things which cannot be shaken” are identified in the next verse with a kingdom that cannot be moved. This kingdom is Christ’s. It is internal in his people and external in his own administration and reign. The elect increase in number and grow in holiness and righteousness. All of these things remain and cannot be shaken. The nations will be shaken to become a peaceful home for the saints. Daniel 2:44 affirms that the kingdom of Christ will be set up forever; it cannot be destroyed, though all other kingdoms be broken to pieces. All nations will be shaken when the kingdom of Christ is established throughout the earth. The whore of Babylon must have a final fall into total desolation. . . .[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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THE WORKS OF JOHN OWEN, VOLUME 8: SERMONS TO THE NATION