“For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. For they could not bear the command, ‘If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned.’ And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, ‘I am full of fear and trembling.’ But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.”
---End of Scripture verses---
The Hebrews writer brings his contrasts of the old, inferior law and covenant and God’s new and better way made available through Jesus to a grand and climactic conclusion at the end of chapter 12. Verses 18-21 condense the events recorded in Exodus 19 where God gave the old law at Mount Sinai into one, frightening and forbidding vignette by way of contrast to the beautiful and welcoming access that we have to the Father through the sacrifice of His Beloved Son in verses 22-24.
All of the sights and sounds associated with the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai relayed the message that the people must be careful to keep their distance! God’s appearance was accompanied by “thunder and lightning flashes” (Exodus 19:16) and the “gloom” of a dark cloud (verse 18). God called His assembly together with the blast of the ram’s horn, and the nearer the Lord approached, “the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder” (Exodus 18:19). The Lord descended upon the mountain “in fire” and “the whole mountain quaked violently” (Exodus 18:18). Everything about this momentous event was, in a word — “TERRIFYING!”.
But, through Jesus, God’s people have been granted a gracious entrance into the great spiritual city of “Zion,” “the heavenly Jerusalem” (verse 22). This is the city that Abraham was “looking for” and “which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (11:10). Through Jesus we have come to the gathering of “myriads” (10,000’s) of angels, the very ones who rejoice in heaven when sinners obey the Gospel (Luke 15:10), and who also surround God’s throne at the ready to welcome us into His presence.
Through Jesus we have come “to the general assembly of the church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (verse 23). Even though we live on earth, our citizenship is actually in heaven (Philippians 3:20) where we will dwell for eternity if we live our lives in obedient faith until death. In earthly families there is only one “firstborn” child, but the word is used in the plural in today’s passage. All of God’s spiritual children hold this special status of privilege and all eagerly await an equal, eternal inheritance.
And friend, if you live and die as a faithful Christian, you are not only promised a glorious inheritance in the heavenly city, you will actually come into the presence of “God” Himself! To literally dwell in intimate fellowship with the Lord who created us in His image is the ultimate satisfaction to the greatest longing of our immortal spirits. But, while this is meant to convey an image of great security and comfort, the author also emphasizes that God is “the Judge of all” (verse 23) and He is not one to be trifled with. We must have a healthy fear and respect for our Judge if we want to dwell with Him in familial companionship as our Father in heaven forever.
Please read Hebrews 12:25-29 for tomorrow.
Have a great day.
- Louie Taylor