Tag: Hebrews 12:18-21
Ep.272: A Tale of Two Mountains.
Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
Hebrews 12 says:
You have not come to a mountain that can be touched
and that is burning with fire;
to darkness, gloom, and storm;
to a trumpet blast or to a voice speaking words such that
those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them,
because they could not bear what was commanded,
“If even an animal touches the mountain,
it must be stoned to death.”
The sight was so terrifying that Moses said,
“I am trembling with fear” (vv. 18-21).
This passage reads almost like a Victorian novel: It was a dark and stormy night, deep gloom hung on the mountain, lightning flashed vivid warnings, a trumpet blasted dangerously. This is how the book of Hebrews describes the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai. A death sentence hung on any who came too close. Even Moses was terrified.
To the author of Hebrews, the law given this way had two important characteristics:
– First, it was God’s law, his very words, warning humans about sin and judgment.
– Second, the law was a revelation of God’s goodness. It gave his guidelines for a community to live together in love and justice, escaping the calamity of evil.
The author struggles with the question: Why did God’s law not produce the society he wanted? What made God’s project fail?
This search led the author of Hebrews to Christ, who he introduces as another word of God, saying, In these last days God has spoken to us by his son whom he loves, through whom he created the worlds (Heb 1:2).
Jesus, who is himself God’s word, gives a different message than the words spoken from Mt. Sinai. Hebrews says:
But you [who trust in Jesus] have come to Mount Zion,
to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,
to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.
You have come to God, the Judge of all,
to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant,
to the sprinkled blood
that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel (vv. 22-24).
Yes, Jesus speaks a better word. He speaks to us not from gloom and tempest, but from a mountain of joy, a city of light, in the company of saints and angels. On this mountain, Jesus consecrates a new covenant, not founded on a legal system delivered in the terror of night, but given as a gift: his own life. On this mountain, gentle hope replaces overriding fear. Quiet confidence replaces the dread of making a misstep. Glad community replaces lonely angst.
Our father, all our lives we have done our duty, obeyed your law, kept your commands. We have lived in fear of judgment, anxious lest we should misstep or overstep or fall.
Today we come to Mount Zion,
to a joyful assembly of angels and saints,
to a savior who washes us clean
and teaches us to live out of love, not fear.
We walk with him on a path of glad obedience.
Establish our hearts on this mountain.
I’m Daniel, on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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