Hebrews 12: 16 – 29
We continue in our study of the Book of Hebrews as we conclude in the twelfth chapter. The writer began the Chapter by associating running in a race to the Christian walk especially when some of his audience had made a remarkable adventure from Judaism to Christianity having responded positively to the message of the Gospel. Once again we are reminded of the audience in this portion of scripture. These believing Jews were been pressured through the vehicle of severe persecution from their fellow Jews – some of them had lost their properties, some had lost their businesses and many were constantly hit with socio-economic pressures so that they could come back into Judaism.
The reason for writing this chapter was to encourage his believing brothers that persecution was part and parcel of their walk with God. We’ve learnt from our past articles that when a Christian is persecuted, it indicated and confirmed that they have a Father. They were to come to that understanding that God had allowed such persecution because, like the so many cloud of witnesses mentioned in the eleventh chapter, they were to learn that God used their afflictions, persecutions, pains and troubles to either protect, educate or correct them. The focus was not to be on who brought the persecution but on the good that would come out of them all. David said, “many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them from them all”.
The idea was that, the many cloud of witnesses (or martyrs, as stipulated by the word), could not have been referenced without going through one pain or the other.
At this point and in accordance to what this great writer penned down, many were considering moving back to the Old Covenant because of the enormity of the pressure been mounted on them. He reminded them of Esau who because of the food he wanted to eat, refused to think about the future and thereby missing out on blessings. The pleasure of that very moment didn’t and couldn’t last but for a moment. Avoiding the pressure by refusing to respond to the message of the Gospel was not going to last till eternity, according to this prolific writer.
He had to warn them and of course they all knew what happened to Esau. He didn’t get the blessing and bitterness became the order of the day for him. Even at the time he sought for repentance, it had become too late as judgment had been passed.
To drive home his final point about responding to the message of the Gospel, the writer drew comparison about the highest points of both the Old and the New Covenant. One of the most revered mountains as far as the Jews and Judaism were concerned, is Mount Sinai – the peak where Moses received the Ten Commandments on behalf of the Jewish Nation. It was a sacred place for them because it was a place of judgment (a place of fire), darkness and glooming darkness. Mount Sinai was a place of judgment; it was a place of tempest; it was a place where the people dreaded to hear the voice of God because it was all about judgment and therefore they FEARED.
It was such that even if a beast touched any part of the mountain, that beast was put to death. The relationship between God and His people was based upon the judgment of God upon them in the face of the wrong they had done or committed. It was on this mountain that Moses received the Ten Commandments. Even Moses dreaded the mountain to the extent that he expressed his fear when he said, “I am terrified and trembling”. The woman that was caught in adultery was almost going to be stoned to death through the same law that was received on this mountain. No one looked towards this Mountain.
In plain terms, the highest point of Judaism was Mount Sinai. The mountain could be touched because it was a symbol of the external. In comparison to what was going to come and which the martyrs looked forward to (the city whose foundation and maker was God), mount Sinai had become child’s play.
David, in the book of Psalms spoke about a mountain when he sang:
Great is the Lord,
And greatly to be praised
In the city of our God,
In the mountain of his Holiness.
Beautiful for situation,
The joy of the whole earth,
Is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.
The second Mountain mentioned by this writer is Mount Zion.
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. Psalm 137:1
But in Mount Zion there shall be those who escape, and it shall be holy, and the house of Jacob shall possess their own possessions. Obadiah 1:17
And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls. Joel 2:32
Mount Zion was going to be the ultimate mountain for the people of God, the people who will respond to the message of the Gospel. Contrary to Mount Sinai, Mount Zion was going to be a better place for the people who will respond to the message of the Gospel. Mount Zion is not physical or material but it was described as the City of the Living God. It is Heaven. A place where there is an innumerable company of Angels. The writer called this place, the General Assembly.
Mount Zion is a place that will be occupied by the Church of the firstborn also know as the Body of Christ. It is a body of people who have responded positively to the message of the Gospel. Whilst the highest point of Judaism is Mount Sinai where fear and trepidation was the order of the day, Mount Zion was presented as a place where people would worship and serve God not because of FEAR but REVERENCE. They would love to hear God speak to them because in Mount Zion we come into the presence of the God of Love.
To come into Mount Zion is to come to Jesus with past Saints through the sprinkled blood of the atonement through which we have obtained redemption and our sins forgiven. Jesus is the mediator of this New Covenant. His blood is not crying out vengeance like the blood of Abel did but forgiveness. To remain and live under Judaism is to remain in Mount Sinai and its judgment. I can imagine the look on the faces of the unbelieving Jews as they heard or read this book. They knew what happened at Sinai and would not be able to deny the contents of this Book.
As they heard or read, the writer made a final advice as he said, “Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! When God spoke from Mount Sinai, His voice shook the earth, but now He makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain”.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon was spot on when he said, “When a congregation expects nothing, it generally finds nothing even in the best of preachers; but when they are prepared to make much of what they hear, they usually get what they came for”.
Keep it right here and be refreshed!