The Book of Hebrews #66 chapter 12:18-29 pt.2
The Book of Hebrews
Mount Sinai or Mount Zion? (part 2)
Hebrews 12:18-29
 
Hebrews 12:18-24
 
Last week we traveled to Mr. Sinai and there had an encounter with a God of judgment and wrath.  The choice these Hebrews have before them is to choose which mountain will be there dwelling place.  One the one hand there is Mt. Sinai.  It is the mountain of law and judgment and wrath. We studied about it last week in verses 18-21.
 
Tonight we come to Mt. Zion.   When you become a Christian, you come to Mt. Zion which is the city of the living God."
 
By the way, Mount Zion is a real mountain.  It’s located near the Valley of Hinnom in the south part of Israel and it’s not all that impressive to look at.  But the significance of Mount Zion is not foun din its physical appearance, but rather its spiritual significance because Mount Zion is the polar opposite of everything we saw at Sinai.
 
Sinai is all about judgment and wrath and law.  Mount Zion is all about love and forgiveness and grace.
 
verses 22-24
 
Mount Zion was once a Jebusite stronghold and the Jebusite's were the ancient inhabitants of that area.
 
But King David conquered the Jebusites and in the seventh year of David's reign he named that Jebusites mountain Zion.  It is right next to Mount Moriah, which is where the Temple Mount is and there is where David made his throne and it became the religious center of the kingdom.
 
In fact, in 2 Samuel 6:2, it says they put the ark of God on Mount Zion and God says, "This is my place. This is my city. This is where you can come and you can sprinkle blood on the mercy seat." This is the mount of forgiveness. This is where it all changes, right here on this little hill.
 
Mount Zion is God’s mountain and it was there, He said His ark was to be placed.  It was there the priests would sprinkle the blood and for all intents and purposes, it was God’s home on earth.  In fact, 1 Kings 14:21 says Jerusalem was the place where God chose to put His name.
 
And so Zion became synonymous with Jerusalem and all through the Old Testament you see it used interchangeably. He'll talk about Zion or Jerusalem or Jerusalem or Zion and it's all the same thing. And in this section of the book of Hebrews, God was saying, "No doubt about it, Sinai was terrible, and judgment was terrible but you can come to me at Zion and find forgiveness."
 
I personally believe Zion is still God's favorite name for Jerusalem. In fact, it's still the Jews favorite name. In fact, if you are a zealous nationalist Jew, even to this day, you are called a Zionist.  Zion is a special place with a special name.
 
In Psalm 48:2, God says, "The joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion." Why? It is because the city of God is known as a city of refuge.
 
Think about what that means.  We are talking about the contrast between Sinai and Zion.  God is to be avoided at Sinai.  Because of the requirements of the law, He is unapproachable.
 
But the message of Sinai is “You can come to God!”  The writer has been saying that throughout this letter.  “Come boldly into His presence.”  The middle wall is torn down.  God is approachable at Zion.
 
And ultimately what He's saying here is, "You can't approach me on the terms of law but you can approach me on the terms of grace and forgiveness."
 
See the picture? Just thinking about it in earthly terms, Sinai signifies an unapproachable God.  He’s spewing out His law and the mountain was on fire and it was thundering and lightening and Moses was trembling and shaking.  But at Zion, God could be approached because there was a place of forgiveness and restoration available.
 
Then to magnify that out to spiritual terms gives an even greater significance.  To live without Christ means we must face a spiritual Sinai where we will be judged according to the law of God.  It’s interesting that the very things used to describe Sinai also describe hell.  Fire and smoke and thundering and wrath and judgment are what is to be expected.
 
 
And when we come to Christ we come to a spiritual Zion, a place of grace where God is approachable. In fact, the ultimate destination of the saved is to forever be with God and be His people and He’s so close He can wipe a tear away from your eye and it’s all because of God’s grace.
 
There is nothing to fear when you meet God at Zion.
 
Notice verse 22
 
Is that not an amazing thought?  We get to “come” to God,  When you come to Zion, you're coming to God, and to come to God, you’ve got to come to Christ, and to come to Christ means you meet Him at the cross and there we find the significance of what it means to come.
 
God has always been approachable, but only through a sacrifice.  And when we come to God on His terms, that means we come, not on good behavior or merit of our won or earning our way there.  We come by the way of the cross.  It’s by His grace and when we arrive, we don’t find someone preaching the requirements of the Law.  We find wonderful grace and forgiveness made possible through the sacrifice of Christ..
 
And as you come, based on the sacrifice of Christ, you discover seven benefits of coming to Zion.  We’ll cover them quickly.
 
The first thing you receive is
 
1. The City of the Living God, the heavenly
Jerusalem.
You know what that is? Heaven. God says the first thing that happens when you come to me is you inherit Heaven.
 
Now Heaven is a great thing to think about, isn't it? So often we limit it to the physical experience because that’s what we are most familiar with.  We talk about no sickness and death and sorrow and so forth.  And that’s not a bad thing to think about.
 
But heaven is so much more than just a physical experience.  To think about a perfect, eternal relationship with God and what’ll learn and experience and understand and see.  It’s just an amazing thing to ponder.
 
Heaven isn't just a perfect place, Heaven is where Jesus is and that's the first benefit of coming to Zion that he mentions. The second is
 
2.  An Innumerable Company Of Angels
 
And literally the Greek says, "In festive gathering or a gathering for celebration." Literally translated, that means we come to an angel party!  We get in on it.
 
You know they've been celebrating a lot of times for a lot of years up there. In fact, every time somebody gets saved they celebrate, don't they? There's joy in Heaven over one soul.
 
And we get in on the angel party, the innumerable angels are having a constant festival in the presence of God and all of a sudden we crash the party!  Just to get to be there is pretty tall cotton, right?
 
People get all pumped up about the red carpet galas and affairs of this world.  But when you come to Zion, you run around and party with angels!
 
Now just to flavor that though a little bit, if you remember, Deuteronomy 33:2 says when God delivered the law to Moses, tens of thousands of angels accompanied Him.  But I’ll guarantee you, they didn’t have on their party dresses.  They were there to make sure everyone kept their distance.
But when you come to Mount Zion, the mount of grace, you join the party with the angels.
 
Third, you come to
 
3. The General Assembly and Church of the
     Firstborn
 
That phrase takes us in two directions. The first part, the general assembly, connects back with the angels. But looking in the other direction we have the church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.
 
Much like a kid is pre-enrolled in school before school actually starts we have been enrolled, pre-registered in heaven.  Did you know that you've been enrolled in Heaven? When did that happen?  It happened way back before God laid the foundations of the world.
 
Now roll call for you comes along whenever God designs it but as a child of God, you're been enrolled for a long time.  Listen:  Heaven has a place for you.  Jesus went away to prepare it. It's got your name on it.  Everything is just about ready for your arrival.
 
 
And since you are enrolled, you’re going to attend.  We are coming to the church of the firstborn who are registered in Heaven.
 
I’ve always thought if I ever started a church, that’s what I’m going to name it. The Church of the Firstborn who are Registered in Heaven, Inc.
 
So who is the church of the first born? That’s easy to figure out if you understand who the “firstborn” is.  The ‘firstborn” is the primary one or the preeminent one.  Obviously, that’s Christ.
 
We are a part of the body of Christ, the whole gathering of eternal saints of the church. One of these days, we’ll all get together and everyone will be perfect and united and forever the way God intended for us to be.
 
Don’t you like coming to church?  It’s the highlight of my week!  When we’re together studying and singing and laughing and fellowshipping and being the church is my favorite thing in the whole world to do with other people.
 
And the invitation we are given here in Hebrews is, “If you like going to church and being with God’s people, then I’ve got a deal for you because when you come t Zion, you come to the eternal church of God. You can have forever in an unlimited way what you enjoy physically in a limited body with limited time and ability.  Come to Mount Zion and you can have it forever with all of them
 
 
 
And then fourth, you not only come to the heavenly Jerusalem, Heaven, to the party the angels are having, to the church of the first born who are all written in heaven, you also, come to
 
4. God, the Judge of All
 
You can come to Heaven and enter into the presence of God.  Can you imagine what that meant to a Jew? To a Jew, even to speak the name of God was blasphemous. A Jew would never say God's name for fear God would judge him.
 
That makes sense when you remember that for the Jews, their image of God was Sinai.  They only knew the thunder and judgment.  God was too holy to be approached.
 
And now the author is saying, “Now you can approach the bench.  God is the judge of all, but you have a defense attorney named Jesus Christ.  He is your mediator and He has made a way for you to approach God and you don’t have to approach Hi at Sinai.  You can come to Zion.”
 
There are som many pictures of that access being given to us.  Most significant to the Jew was the tearing of the Temple veil.  When Jesus died, the veil of the temple was torn in half and it was God’s way of saying, “No more barrier.  You are invited into the presence of God.”
 
I talk to God every day. I say His name and read His Word and sense His Spirit.  But one of these days I'll enter His presence. What a glorious thought that an absolutely holy, righteous God could bring into His presence a guy like me.
Fifth benefit:  When we come to Zion, we come to
 
5. The Spirits Of Just Men Made Perfect
 
Who would that be? We’ve already talked about angels, the church and God, so who is left?  I think it is Old Testament saints.  They’re certainly going to be in Zion.  So what does “spirits made perfect” reference?  When were their spirits perfected?  , Their spirits were perfected on the cross. That’s when their salvation was accomplished.
 
During the time Jesus was in the tomb, we are told of two trips He made.  One to Hades; the other to Paradise.  He announced His victory to Hell and He took all the Old Testament spirits waiting in Paradise to their eternal home in heaven.
 
They're still waiting their resurrection bodies and that won’t happen until the Second Coming of Christ but their spirits have been perfected already.  And when you and I go to Heaven, their spirits will be there and we will meet with them and be with them and we will be one. And I'm telling you, I can't wait to see Abraham. So many things I want to ask Adam like, “Why did you sew those fig leaves together?  You’d already seen her naked!”
 
There are lots of things I want to find out.  I want to talk to Noah and Joshua and Isaiah and meet all those people and talk and spend forever. Those are the kind of people I like to be with.
 
 
 
 
Sixth, not only do we come to Heaven and to the angel party and to the church and to God and to all the Old Testament saints, but verses 24 says we come to
 
6. Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant
 
We come to Jesus. Jesus is His redemptive name. What did he say? Call His name Jesus. Why? For He shall save His people from their sins. That's His saving name. Yeshua, Savior, His redemptive name. So we come to the redeemer, the mediator of the new covenant.
 
Is that not a thrilling thought?  You know when a Christian dies, they don’t really die.  A Christian will never experience death. They just close their eyes in one dimension and open them in another.  They just exit this world only to suddenly be face-to-face with Jesus Christ.  I’ve been there more times than I can remember when some saint of God slips into heaven and it’s always such a holy moment for me.  Just think about what is happening just on the other side of this life.
 
“To be absent from the body”, said the Apostle Paul, “is to be present with the Lord.”  No soul-sleep, no purgatory, no hanging around in never-never land, but in the presence of Jesus.
 
One final thing.  We are invited to come to Zion where we come to
 
7. The Blood of Sprinkling that Speaks Better
    Things than that of Abel
 
Now old Abel made a good sacrifice.  It must have been because God accepted it.  But the truth is, as good and acceptable as it was, the one Jesus made is better.
 
That’s what this phrase is telling us.  He says to those Jews, "You may think that the kind that Abel made is all that is necessary, but I want to introduce you to the mediator of a new covenant and the blood of sprinkling that testifies of things a lot better than does Abel."
 
By the sprinkled blood of Jesus Christ you get full, final, complete, total, forever forgiveness.
 
You want forgiveness? You want Jesus? You want to fellowship with all the saints of all the ages? You want to just go into the presence of God? You want to be in the fellowship of the church forever You want to go to the eternal party the angels are throwing? Would you like to spend forever in Heaven? Then don't be afraid, come to Christ. That's what He offers.
 
But on the other hand, if you don't, all that’s left is Sinai and if you depend upon your works rather than the finished work of Jesus, you will be brought before a mountain of thunder and fire and smoke and condemned.
 
Let’s pray.

 

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