World English Bible translation
12:18For you have not come to a mountain that might be touched, and that burned with fire, and to blackness, darkness, tempest, 12:19 the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which those who heard it begged that not one more word should be spoken to them, 12:20 for they could not stand that which was commanded, "If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned;" 12:21 and so fearful was the appearance, that Moses said, "I am terrified and trembling."
12:22But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels, 12:23 to the general assembly and assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 12:24 to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better than that of Abel.
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews loved to make comparisons. He has compared Jesus with other admired persons: with angels, with Abraham, and with Moses. He has compared the earthly tabernacle with a better heavenly tabernacle. He has compared the covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses with the newer covenant that God has made with His people through His Son. In each case, the purpose was to show the superiority of the things that Christ has brought to us as compared with what had come before.
In this section of the letter, the author calls forth another comparison. Mount Sinai, the mountain where Moses brought down the law to the people, is compared with Mount Zion. In this case, Mount Zion is not the physical mountain near Jerusalem. This Mount Zion is the heavenly Jerusalem or what we would think of as heaven itself.
On the one hand there was Mount Sinai. Sinai was the mountain that Moses led the people to three months after they had left their bondage in Egypt. Mount Sinai was a holy place, but it was also a terrifying place. The people were told that they could not step one foot on its slopes. Any animal that wandered onto the mountain would have to be stoned. There was constant thunder and lightning. The people were terrified of Sinai. Even Moses was intimidated by the place.
Where Christ takes us is not the terrifyingly holy mountain that intimidated the ancient Hebrews. Instead, Christ brings us to the city of the living God. Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant and in Christ there is no fear. Perfect love casts away fear. Christ brings us to the assembly of the firstborn of all of God's children. He brings us before an innumerable host of holy angels and places us in a position of honor and a place of glory.
In the last lesson, we wrote that in Christ we are given the strength to stand against everything that is against us. We gain that strength by being a part of this new covenant for which Christ is the mediator. It is as a part of this new covenant that we have come to Mount Zion. It is through that new covenant that we are able to come before the very throne of the Holy God. He is the same God that was at Sinai. He is the same Judge of all. But, the cross stands between Sinai and us now. And that is all the difference.
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