Focal Passage: Hebrews 12:18-24
Living in West Tennessee means that we are close to the New Madrid Fault. Every so often there is a tremor which reminds us that someday things will be “all shook up.” 200 years ago there was the big shaking which formed Reelfoot Lake. Some say we are living on borrowed time now.
Mount Sinai is the mountain where things were physically and spiritually shaken. In Exodus 19-20 Moses has met with God and now He meets with the people. They were about to enter into a new covenant with God. Mount Sinai begins to shake. It is enveloped in smoke, lightning, and thunder. No one is to touch the mountain. The people are terrified. Even Moses is shaking in his sandals. It is quite a dramatic scene.
Mount Sinai is the place of the law and covenant. It is a place of fear and judgment. It pictures the wrath of God on sin and foretells a time when He will bring His judgment on this sinful world. The laws given were not to be disobeyed; they were to be closely followed. But the writer shows that this is not enough to deal with the need of the man’s soul.
Years ago my wife came running into my office and said, “Come to the parsonage quickly. I think our son has broken his arm.” I jumped up and we hurriedly drove him to the emergency room. The doctor took an x-ray and sure enough the ugly truth was shown. Both bones had been snapped. The x-ray showed what was wrong, but the x-ray couldn’t do anything to bring healing. That was the job of the orthopedic doctor.
The law is like the x-ray. On Mt. Sinai when the law was given, it provided the way for man to see his sin, but it could not bring the true healing that was needed. Thanks be to God for Mount Zion, the place of healing, deliverance, and forgiveness.
Mount Zion was one of the hills on which Jerusalem was built and it stands for the home of God’s people and the “heavenly Jerusalem.” The writer gives several characteristics of this dynamic place.
• A place of joy. What greater feeling is there than to be in an assembly where people are filled with excitement and praise. The image of a sports arena comes to mind as the fans celebrate a victory.
• A place of angels. Often we forget that these ministering spirits are all around us bringing help in a time of need. How many churches would have greater praise if they were aware of these spiritual beings. Scripture is full of references to them.
• A place for the firstborn. The term “firstborn” referred to position and privilege. Israel is called God’s firstborn. Solomon was referred to as firstborn even though technically he was not. Christ is called the firstborn of creation and the dead. Therefore we see that the believer has been granted a place of special privilege and position by being part of the firstborn.
All this and more gives hope to the believer that the life in Christ is a place that cannot be shaken. It will stand forever because of the security given to us by the blood of Jesus (mediator of the new covenant). The only way to come to the Father is through the “sprinkled blood” that purchased our salvation, gave us forgiveness of sins, and opened the door to receive the richness of His grace, but it had no atoning power. The blood of Christ can cleanse anyone from their unrighteousness, and give them a new name in Glory!
— Williams is pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington.