Coming to Mount Zion
A daily devotion for December 29th
The Mountain of Fear and the Mountain of Joy
18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”[a] 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”[b]
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 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, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”[c] 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”[d]
You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm... But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come 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, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Hebrews 12:18, 22-24
The writer is here speaking of that which motivates us in the Christian life. We are not to be driven by fear. Not by the Law with its demands upon us,
Do this, or else. Not by self-effort, not by the gritted teeth and the clenched fist and a determination that we are going to serve God. If we serve because we are afraid, as the Law frightened Israel in the terrible scene on Mt. Sinai, we will lose something from God. It is not fear that is our motive; it is fullness, it is what God has given us.
You have come not to this Mount Sinai, but to Mount Zion, the place of grace;
and to the new Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come under a new government.
And to angels. Angels are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to those who are to be the heirs of salvation, i.e., Christians.
And to the church of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven. This is those who are born in Christ, sharing his life with our names written in heaven.
And to God, the judge of all, whether they are Christians or not.
And to the spirits of the righteous made perfect. These are the Old Testament saints, men and women of God who lived in the days when the promise was given before the cross, who looked forward by faith and who are waiting now for us.
And to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. A mediator is not someone up in heaven somewhere, in some distant reach of space; he is an indwelling Christ. He is available to us. He is right here to be our strength, our righteousness, our wisdom, whatever we need. When Abel's blood was shed it cried out for vengeance, as the book of Genesis tells us, but Jesus' blood did not speak of vengeance — it speaks of access, of vindication, of the fact there is no problem between us and God that is not settled by his blood. There is no longer any question of guilt. We can come completely accepted in the Beloved.
Thus, with all this on our side there is no need to fail, is there? That is the point he is making. Certainly it gets rough, certainly it gets discouraging, surely there are times when the pressures are intense, but have you reckoned on your resources? Have you forgotten them?
Gracious Father, I am so grateful that by grace you have led me to Mount Zion. Now help me to stand strong, and to be yours in every circumstance of life.
Life Application: Have we entered Mt. Zion, where joy and freedom from fear is our spiritual heritage? Is our worship and our works motivated by God's grace, and His love which casts out fear ?
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