Wednesday, September 14, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews Lesson 52

Two Mountains

So much of Hebrews has been about comparing elements of the New Covenant with the Old Covenant. After a brief section in which he speaks of the faith that unites the two covenants, the Writer returns to the theme of New Covenant superiority:

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. (Hebrews 12:18-24, NASB 95)

The first image refers to the events described in Exodus 19-20. It is a long section, but I would encourage you to read it. It tells of God descending on Mount Sinai and speaking to the people assembled at the bottom. It is a terrifying scene. It represents the relationship of God to His people before Jesus' death and blood. Here we find separation, law, punishment, and fear wrought by the presence of a Holy God. Although the Law is good, it has no power to change the hearts of men and women. The chasm is fixed and cannot be crossed.

By faith in Jesus and the New Covenant established by His blood, we have access to the "city of the living God" that Abraham and the Old Testament saints looked for. We can be where God and the angels are. We can join the assembly of those "spirits of the righteous made perfect." This is our heritage.

Paul expressed a similar thought in his letter to the churches in Galatia:

Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. For it is written,
Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear; Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; For more numerous are the children of the desolate Than of the one who has a husband.
And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also. But what does the Scripture say?
Cast out the bondwoman and her son, For the son of the bondwoman shall not be an heir with the son of the free woman.

So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman. (Galatians 4:21-31)

I encourage you to fully realize the access you have to our God in heaven through Jesus Christ. The Writer says that we have access to the throne of grace in time of need. What is our time of need? It is the time of temptation and sin. We do not have to wait until the deed is over and done and we have properly repented--that is after the time of need. Through Jesus we can ask for help and should ask for help at anytime; even, I would say, in the middle of the deed.

Going back to Exodus 19, I note that the Old Covenant erected a barrier between the people and God. The barrier was for their protection. With Jesus the barrier is gone. Learn to live in that reality.

Test everything. Cling to what is good.


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