Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hebrews 12:18-29 Mount Zion to Supersede Mount Sinai

KEY TEXT: Hebrews 12:25-29 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

KEY THOT: The writer contrasts the earthly Mount Sinai where the Law was received by Moses with the heavenly Mount Zion, the City of God from whence Christ came. The first was fearsome and Israel was terrified by the sights and sounds of God’s glory descending on the mountain. The second, Mount Zion, is the “city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem”, the place of “innumerable angels in festal gathering”, “the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven”, the dwelling place of God, and the home of “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (vv. 22-23). 

At Mount Sinai, God spoke and the earth shook, causing even Moses to say, “I tremble with fear” (v.21). But now from Mount Zion, Christ warned from heaven and this time, not just the earth but also heaven will shake: “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens” (v.26). There is going to come another great shaking which will remove everything on earth that is temporal, in order that “things that cannot be shaken may remain”, viz., the “kingdom that cannot be shaken” and the souls of the redeemed. 

So, if we are investing our lives in everything except the kingdom of God, then we are living in vain because everything else will be shaken and removed. Thus, Hebrews 13:28-29 says, “let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe”, for God is a “consuming fire”. As believers, we need to be committed to a radically spiritual and expanded worldview that includes and incorporates the heavenly and eternal kingdom. We are to reject the narrow this-worldly worldview foisted upon us by Satan to keep the church preoccupied with the earthly and the temporal affairs that one day will be irrelevant. Ultimately, only transformed people ("spirits of the righteous made perfect") will remain--not institutions, buildings or programs. These are just earthly means to the heavenly end--the transformation of lives and society. 

There is more to reality than meets the eye: we need to take off our narrow-minded lenses that see only Mount Sinai to look beyond to the new heavenly reality that incorporates Mount Zion. Mount Zion is not just a reality awaiting to arrive—it is already here! The Kingdom of God has come and its manifestations are the Holy Spirit’s presence and power in our midst: “But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28).

Father, open our eyes to see beyond this earthly reality represented by Mt Sinai towards the total reality represented by Mt Zion whose presence is already here in our midst as the presence and power of the Spirit. Amen.

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