Hebrews 12:22-24. 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
We might retitle the Bible as “A Tale of Two Mountains.” The Bible begins as the tale of Mount Sinai. After Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden Temple of God because of their rebellion, God then moves his people back into his presence at Mount Sinai. In Exodus, Mount Sinai is God’s mountain temple.
But Mount Sinai presents a big problem for the people (see Hebrews 12:18-21). Because God is perfectly pure and the people are perfectly sinful they can’t climb Mount Sinai to God. In fact, they can’t even get near the mountain or touch it, lest they die. Smoke, lightning, thunder, wind, loud trumpets, and God’s booming voice all kept the people away from God. Only one representative of the people could climb up to God. Moses. And even he “trembled with fear” as he made his way to the mountain top to receive the law of God. A covenant that would preview the way into God’s presence, but never fully accomplish it.
Eventually the nation of Israel moved away from Mount Sinai and into the promised land. King David would conquer Jerusalem and place his capital, and God’s temple, atop of Mount Zion. The mountain of Abraham and Isaac. The mountain of the better covenant. The mountain of the better mediator. The mountain of the better sacrifice. The mountain of the cross.
And so now these two mountains stand in complete contrast to one another. Two covenants. Two paths to God’s presence – law or gospel. Two ways to holiness – works or grace.
If you are in Christ, then you have come to Mount Zion. Don’t miss the language here – HAVE COME. You’re already there. Hebrews isn’t just describing our future with God in eternity (he is) but he is also describing our present reality in Christ.
So the question for us today becomes this – does your life of worship today look like Mount Sinai, or Mount Zion?
Are you living at the foot of Mount Sinai? Barely getting close to God? Trembling in fear? Begging and pleading for forgiveness? Tip-toeing into his presence, hoping maybe he won’t notice it’s you? Do you doubt your holiness in his presence? Do you try to offer him “guilt offerings?” Do you make promises and commitments intended to make up for the wrong you’ve done? Has your relationship with God been reduced down to rule following? Commandment keeping? Does your prayer life reflect only temporary hope in earthly “prayer requests?” Does it look forward to the eternal city or is it stuck on your present circumstance alone?
Or have you made it to Mount Zion in your heart? The city of the living God? An everlasting hope in him? Do you see your life as being about something much bigger than just you? The great assembly of God’s people in worship of him? Does the vision of a future festal gathering of the saints and angels produce joy and excitement in your heart today? Is the future gathering of all God’s people around God’s throne your controlling motivation for gathering this week with God’s people in God’s presence? Are you only controlled by material realities that you can see, hear and touch? Or is your life being controlled by the unseen spiritual realities of Christ on his throne? Are you trusting in God, the judge of all, to one day make all things right? Does this thought produce peace in your heart? Are you approaching God boldly moment by moment, trusting fully in the blood of Jesus? The blood that speaks the better word of forgiveness, rather than vengeance? Are you living from the confidence of the clear conscience of one who has been made perfect? Or are you dominated by guilt and shame in God’s presence?
“To live is Christ” has taken you from Mount Sinai to Mount Zion. But at which mountain are you worshiping in your heart and mind? In Christ you have made it to Zion! Today, will you worship God in the beauty of his glory and grace with all the saints and angels, trusting in Jesus, our great mediator, alone? Or will you run back to the terror of the law?
Won’t you join the party at Zion? Jesus is waiting for you there.
Do you live your life at Sinai or Zion?
You in Christ
In Christ you are living in the presence of God. What can you do to remind yourself of this each day?
Christ in you
What might Mt. Zion worship look like for you today?
Playlist: Mount Zion.
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