Hebrews 12:18-29

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 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, 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, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

Observation

  • God’s glory is terrifying.
  • God’s glory terrified Moses to the point where his feet shook.
  • The Israelites could not endure the order given to them from God.
  • The readers of Hebrews had not come to things that were terrifying, but to the city of the Living God.
  • The readers of Hebrews had not come to things that were terrifying but to the Mount Zion.
  • The readers of Hebrews had not come to things that were terrifying but to the heavenly Jerusalem.
  • The readers of Hebrews had not come to things that were terrifying but to innumerable angels in festal gathering.
  • The readers of Hebrews had not come to things that were terrifying but to the assembly of the first born.
  • The readers of Hebrews had not come to things that were terrifying but to God.
  • God is the judge of all.
  • The readers of Hebrews had not come to things that were terrifying but to the spirits of righteousness.
  • The readers of Hebrews had not come to things that were terrifying but to Jesus.
  • Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant.
  • The readers of Hebrews had not come to things that were terrifying but to the sprinkled blood.
  • We come to the Sprinkled blood i.e. Christ
  • The sprinkled blood speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
  • The readers of Hebrews were to insure they did not refuse Jesus.
  • There was no excuse for refusing to accept the warning from the prophets.
  • There is even less of an excuse to refuse the warning of one from heaven.
  • At one time God’s voice shook the earth.
  • Now God promises to shake not only the earth but the heavens also.
  • The purpose of God shaking the earth is to remove everything that can be shaken i.e. things that have been made, so that only what remains are those things which cannot be shaken.
  • We are to be grateful that we are receiving the Kingdom of God.
  • The Kingdom of God cannot be shaken.
  • We are to give God an acceptable worship.
  • An acceptable worship would be given with reverence, and awe
  • God is a consuming fire.

Interpretation

The writer now introduces a new argument. First, he has talked about the greatness of grace that the Gospel makes known to us. Second, he explains the character of grace. Now he compares the Law and the Gospel. He declares how much more glorious is Christ’s kingdom than that declared by Moses. He also explains that our calling is much higher and glorious than those who lived in the Old Testament. Therefore our ingratitude is even less excusable and more disgraceful. God does not present Himself clothed in terror, as He did to the people of the Old Testament, but as loving and kind. He invites us to Himself, therefore the sin of ingratitude is increased unless we respond to His gracious invitation.

The signs shown to the children of Israel were indeed magnificent, fire, clouds darkness, sounds like a trumpet, were all magnificent. We may wish God would reveal Himself to us today in a similar manner. But when we come to the Kingdom of Christ, it is far above these things. The writer refers, in this passage, to the things recorded in Exodus 19. They are all physical things. But the kingdom of Christ is hidden from the senses and can only be known through the Spirit.

When the writer lists the things we have been called to, the one that seems a little odd is the “assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven,” All this can be understood when we remember, in Israel the first born were sanctified at the Passover and were to serve in God’s presence. However the Levites served in their place. (Num. 3:11–13). In the Kingdom of Christ all believers, are “firstborn,” and therefore, consecrated to God. We all are enrolled as His priests. This makes the reference to Esau in verse 16 even more significant. Esau scorned his right as the firstborn.

When the author says we come to the sprinkled blood his obvious reference is to Christ. What is interesting is the comparison he makes between the blood of Christ and blood of Abel. Abel was murdered unjustly. Christ was murdered unjustly. The blood of Abel cries out for vengeance from God. Christ’s blood cries out for pardon and forgiveness. Wow, what a contrast.

The writer warns against rejecting the good news of Christ. He shows the severest of punishments awaits those who refused, reject and despise the Gospel. The writer tells of a time when the whole earth shook with the publishing of God’s Law. Then He speaks of how much more glorious is the Gospel because it shakes not only the earth but even the heavens. Then he says that we are to grab a hold of a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Because the Lord shakes us in order to establish us for Him. When we embrace the Gospel we have the gift of the Spirit of Christ so we may worship God devoutly, which is our purpose to worship God reverently and devoutly.

Application

Christ death was atonement for our sins. It is because of Christ’s work that we may approach God. We were under a sentence of death. But Christ took our punishment and now we are able to live in the presence of God. The writer to the Hebrew points out that if we reject this gift from God Himself, we demonstrate extreme ingratitude. We are no longer just rejecting the Law of God but God Himself making our sin is even greater than those who only rejected only the Law of God. Therefore, repent and step into God’s presence.

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