Hope from Hebrews #23 - From Sinai to Zion
Text: Hebrews 12:18-24
Thesis: To stress the blessings contained within the new covenant.
(1) “The two mountains represent the two covenants, highlighting the stark contrasts between the old and the new” (G. Guthrie 417).
(2) Let us note the differences:
I. Mount Sinai (vv. 18-21):
A. A mountain that may be touched
1. Although “Sinai” is not found within the text, there is no doubt that it is the mountain under consideration (cf. Exod. 19:16-22; 20:18-21; Deut. 4: 11-12; 5:23-27).
2. Note: ‘May be touched’ “does not refer to permission but possibility” (MacArthur 411; Exod. 19:12 = death awaited those who touched)
B. Burning with fire
F. A trumpet blast
G. A voice speaking words
- “Everything about this picture of Sinai says, ‘Stay away! Don’t come any closer!” (G. Guthrie 424).
- “To stand at the foot of Sinai, even without touching it, is to stand under judgment and doom. It demands and it punishes. Since no man in himself can fulfill its demands, no man in himself can escape its punishment. At Sinai, sinful and unforgiven man stands before an infinitely holy and perfectly just God. Guilty, vile, and undeserving of forgiveness, he has nothing to expect from Sinai but God’s condemnation” (MacArthur 412).
II. Mount Zion (vv. 22-24):
A. The heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God
- “Zion was originally a stronghold of the Jebusites which was captured by David (2 Sam. 5:6-9); later, it came to stand for the enlarged city of Jerusalem, God’s dwelling place (Ps. 9:11; 76:2). It is the heavenly city built by God Himself (11:10), the place where the living God gathers with His people” (Lightfoot 238).
B. Thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly
1. Angels are often depicted around God’s throne (cf. Dan. 7:10; Dt. 33:2; Gal. 3:19; Rev. 5:11).
2. Heb. 1:14 – they are ministering spirits
C. The church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven
1. The firstborn was/is Jesus (Rom. 8:29), but since ‘firstborn’ is in the plural and Christians are fellow heirs (Rom. 8:17), then Christians are under consideration here.
2. Names in Heaven (cf. Phil. 4:3; Luke 10:20; Rev. 21:27)
D. God, the judge of all people
E. The spirits of the righteous made perfect
- ‘Spirits’ = departed faithful of both the old and new covenants
F. Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant
G. The sprinkled blood that speaks better than the blood of Abel
- “The blood of Abel cried for vengeance against Abel’s murderer, but the blood of Christ calls for forgiveness, cleanses the guilty conscience, and opens the way to heaven” (Lightfoot 240)
(1) “To come into God’s presence at Sinai was to die; to come into His presence at Zion is to live (cf. Ps. 73:25; Rev. 21:3)” (MacArthur 415).
(2) Will you come unto Zion?