Hebrews 12:18-29: Zion vs. Sinai

Read: Hebrews 12:18-29

The picture painted in Hebrews of Mount Sinai is a terrifying one. It’s a place shrouded in clouds and lightning and so holy that anything that touched the mountain would die (Exodus 19). Moses brought the people of Israel out of Egypt to this mountain and it was here that God gave them the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20). It was also here that the Israelites built a “god” for themselves – a golden calf – and those that worshiped it were also put to death (Exodus 32).  This mountain was unapproachable and menacing. The author of Hebrews doesn’t leave things there. He tells his readers of another mountain, namely Mount Zion in heaven. This is the mountain of God in heaven in the New Jerusalem that is a place of worship and joy. It is also a place in which those who have been redeemed by Jesus can enter into.

The author of Hebrews contrast between Sinai and Zion is deliberate to make a strong point: because God is approachable now, his warnings against sin should be heeded with even more fervor than before. This is because God here warns from heaven, and the testimony is given by a stronger blood than even that of the innocence of Abel (Genesis 4:10), namely the blood of Jesus. Furthermore, the author warns of impending judgment. One day, God is going to shake more than a mountain when he comes down – he will shake the heavens and the earth (Haggai 2:6-7). That which cannot shaken is that which will remain.

The Israelites at Sinai never saw God, but they did witness his presence and were terrified. Christians, having received the promise through Jesus, are able to enter into the presence of God through Jesus. But this should never be taken lightly, because while God loves all people, one cannot forget that God is a holy God who should be worshiped with awe and reverence. Hebrews calls God a “consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24) and rightfully so because God is holy, and one day he will exercise judgment.

Lord, I don’t want to be burned! Help be to love you by living righteously!

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