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Is the statement, "warned them on earth" (v25) an allusion to the judgement pronounced by Noah, or by Moses and Yahweh at Sinai?

See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.” This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:25–29, NASB)

I had assumed that a warning on earth, would be that that comes via Noah, but I think some might believe it to be Moses? Can anyone clarify?

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  • I am working on the assumption that there may be evidence either from the text itself, or perhaps from the early church fathers that would help us provide an objective answer to this question. However I am aware that, if there is no concrete evidence, the answer may then be objective. I am not sure of the evidence at this point.
    – Jay
    Oct 27 '15 at 0:39
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Is Hebrews 12:25 an allusion to the Judgement pronounced by Noah, or by Moses/YHWH at Sinai?

"See to it that you do not refuse him who is speaking." (Hebrews 12:25, ESV)

It's not Noah because Noah is mentioned once in Hebrews, in the chapter prior, but he's singled out amidst a group of people (Abel, Enoch, Abram, Sarah) for having faith in things that never came to fruition in their lifetimes, not for talking to people that aren't listening, which is what Hebrews 12:25 is about.

But Moses is mentioned throughout Hebrews -11 times to be exact. And Moses is known for speaking to people that aren't listening. Not at Sinai because they listened there (Exodus 19:8, 20:19, 24:3), but before Sinai -in Egypt, where they would later escape from slavery, and in the desert out of Egypt, after their escape.

The Israelites were tired and brazen from the slavery in Egypt and their faith was weak. YHWH speaks to Moses about leading the people out of Egypt (Exodus 3-15).

"And Moses answered and said, 'But behold, they will not believe me nor hearken unto my voice." (Exodus 4:1, KJV)

So Moses tells the Israelites that YHWH will lead them out of Egypt.

"And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit and for cruel bondage." (Exodus 6:9, KJV)

Even after he led them out of the slavery of Egypt, they lacked faith in Moses.

"And they said unto Moses, because their were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness?" (Exodus 14:11, KJV)

And still, later...

"Notwithstanding, they hearkened not unto Moses..." (Exodus 16:20, KJV)

It's also true that the Israelites failed to listen to all of the prophets sent by YHWH but this verse is about one specific person. The reference to "who warned them on earth" is a comparison of Moses being a physical being with far less power than the spiritual being of YHWH.

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  • This is really helpful. Upon reflection, "the earth will shake yet once more" reference also seems to match more with Noah (God opening the earth and swallowing some of the israelites)!
    – Jay
    Feb 24 '17 at 5:12
  • I can see why it sounds like what happened with the floods. Haggai 2:6 has the same expression. Thank you for saying 'thank you.' Feb 24 '17 at 16:40
  • @GigiSanchez See also Exodus 19.18 "And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly."
    – Robert
    Aug 2 at 18:09
  • Also Moses 12:21 just before it, during the old covenant talk (as metaphor of mount hebron in 18 thru 21
    – Al Brown
    Aug 2 at 21:10
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The reason we know the voice being discussed is the Burning Bush of God, not Noah, is that Hebrews 12:18-29 is about us:

a). Coming to the New Covenant, as opposed to b). Not going to the Old Covenant.

Expressed in metaphor as:

a). Coming to a spiritual Mount Zion, as opposed to b). Not going to an actual Mount Hebron. (Mount Hebron is also called Mount Sinai.)

Technically, in Hebrews 12:25, “him who speaks” is the Blood of Christ and the New Covenant message, and “him who warned them on earth” is the Burning Bush and the Old Covenant message, and “him who warns us from heaven” is Christ/God with of course the New Covenant message, as Christ has ascended to the throne at that point.

From NIV, emphasis mine:

The Mountain of Fear and the Mountain of Joy

18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”[aside: God said this to the Israelites about Hebron] 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. 25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

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