Hebrews Lesson 49: Serve God with Reverence :: By Sean Gooding

Chapter 12:22-29

22 “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. 25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.’

27 Now this, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.”

We are about to explore the differences between the two covenants and see the wonder that we have in Jesus. Last week we dealt with the scary side of God; the wrath God, the God who can destroy the whole universe with a thought, and we were called to have reverence in the presence of that kind of power.

Today we will contrast the two covenants and see the wonders of the new one we have in Jesus, and this should also cause us to have deep reverence in the light of His matchless kindness and grace.

  • Mount Sinai, the First Covenant.

There are two mountains associated with the covenants, and the first was that of Sinai. David Guzik’s commentary points out that Sinai was the covenant of the law; it was desolate and associated with Egypt. Sinai was a place for Israel, and there were just a few angels who delivered the law to Moses. The old covenant seemed to be based on earning and deserving. Sinai was a place that spoke of judgment and punishment. There was fear at Mount Sinai; it was a desert; nothing lived there; it was a place of earthly things, and on we can go. The covenant reminded us of all that we could not do; it reminded us of sin and the judgment that comes with it. There was a lot of death associated with the Sinai covenant. Animals by the millions died, people died for breaking the law, and on and on we can talk about death.

  • Mount Zion, the Second Covenant, verses 22-26

Zion is the place where Jerusalem sits; the law was at Sinai, the cross at Zion. On Zion, we have a city; there was life, and still is life. Zion is associated with life, heaven, and we are told that there is an ‘innumerable company of angels’ there. The focus of Sinai was Israel, but on Zion, the focus was ‘whosoever.’ God is still the Righteous Judge, but the work done in Zion satisfies the justice that He requires from us. In Sinai, the sacrifices had to be done over and over, but in Zion, the sacrifice was done once and for all. At Sinai, only Moses could draw near to God, but at Zion, we are all called to draw near to God, to seek Him, and we are promised to find Him. He is near at hand.

At Zion, with Jesus as our Mediator, we are made perfect in His blood, and there we have an invitation of grace from the Throne of God.

Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

John 7:37, “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.'”

Isaiah 55:1, “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price.”

At Zion, the price was paid in full, done, finished. And when we come to the Lord Jesus in simple childlike faith, our sins are removed forever, and we are cleansed.

Psalm 103:12 NKJV, “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

Isaiah 38:17 ESV, “Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.”

Isaiah 43:25 ESV, “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”

These are the promises of Zion. Oh, what a God we serve whose grace and kindness are unmatched, and no one can be like Him.

  • A Call to Reverence, verse 28

Just so we are not confused by this merciful God, Paul throws in verse 29, our God is a consuming fire. This same God – the All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and Ever-Present – is the God of Zion. It is He who redeems us and calls us His children (1 John 3:1). This knowledge, this grace, this mercy, this kindness, and this love should humble us and cause such reverence to fall on us when we come to terms with what we deserve as rotten sinners and what our gracious God did for us when we think of what Jesus did for us when we contemplate that God would be mindful of us; mere clumps of dust whose days are seventy years or at best eighty years.

Psalm 103:13-15 Berean Standard Bible, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. “For He knows our frame; He is mindful that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass—he blooms like a flower of the field.”

This is the awesome God we serve. May His kindness hush us and calm us in the storms. May His presence keep you grounded when you cannot see the paths and know that He is on your side. I pray that you will read these verses with reverence and joy.

Numbers 6: 24-26, “The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

God bless you,

Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church

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