May 19, 2024. Hebrews 12:18-24

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CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN. Hebrews 12:18-24. 5/19/2024. #46

18 For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. 20 (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.” 21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”) 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

1. A tale of two mountains

                a. Heb. brings his argument to a conclusion

                                a1. He has demonstrated that Jesus was superior to angels and men

                                a2. The New Covenant was far better than Old

                                a3. Holding onto the Old Covenant was both futile and a hindrance to faith in Christ

                b. Now Hebrews contrasts the manifestation of the Old Covenant with the New (Exodus 19-21)

                                a1. The Old came with terrifying images and stern rules, regulations, and retribution

                                a2. The New comes with hope, promise, and harmony

                c. The image of the giving of the Law was frightening

                                a1. Moses went on Mt. Sinai, which darkened

                                a2. Lightning, quakes, thunder, smoke, and terror shrouded the mountain (Dt. 4)

                                a3. If anyone or any animal touched the mount he, she, or it would be put to death

                d. Mt. Zion is different

                                a1. Mt. Sinai was physical and could be touched

                                a2. Mt. Zion of Jesus’s rule is future and spiritual

2. Mt. Zion speaks

                a. When God spoke from Mt. Sinai, the people shook

                                a1. They begged God to speak anymore

                                a2. Even Moses trembled on the mountain

                b. The terror of God displayed His awe and holiness

                                a1. A God who must be obeyed or faced

                                a2. An emphasis on submission and obedience

                c. Jesus’s future rule from Mt. Zion speaks of grace

                                a1. Grace sought through compliance with laws and sacrifices replaced by grace obtained by faith in Jesus Christ

                                a2. Warnings concerning disobedience yields to promises obtained through Christ

                d. Instead of a picture of thunder and terror, Mt. Zion is a picture of peace, joy, and fulfillment

                e. Through Christ, the church becomes the chief born of God via the chief born of all of creation

                f. Saints made complete by the sacrifice of Christ where sin in judged forever and he mediates for us

                g. Genesis 4 as Abel’s blood cried out in vain for justice, Jesus’s blood made justice a reality

3. Mt. Sinai must yield to Mt. Zion

                a. Hebrews urges the reader to give up Mt. Sinai, where nothing but terror awaits, to gain Mt. Zion’s hope

                b. We can’t hold onto anything else (pride, traditions, good works, others…) and Christ at the same time

                                a1. Our hope is in Christ alone (Galatians 3:10-14)

                                a2. Faith in anything but Christ is futile

                c. The promises of glory in a realm full of angels, peace, and joy is only for those of Christ

                d. Those holding onto other things rather than Christ alone may not be saved at all (Heb. 6)

                                a1. This is the fear of Heb.

                                a2. The believing Jew wanted the comfort of tradition, as other faiths hold onto icons, church teachings, and rituals

                e. Mt. Zion looks forward to faith, while Mt. Sinai looks back to Law, which can’t save or give hope

                f. Full examination: what are you holding onto?

Key Passage: Galatians 3:10-1410 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.