September 22 I Thursday
“You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire….But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.” —Hebrews 12:18, 22
Which mountain are we drawing near to? The writer of Hebrews pens his letter to a church that is falling back into embracing the old covenant. He spends 12 out of the 13 chapters writing about God’s redemptive activity for humanity by displaying the supremacy of Christ when compared to the old covenant, to the Temple and to the ritual purification. In the climax of the letter, the writer presents a powerful image of two mountains, which he uses to contrast the old and the new covenant.
About the first mountain—the old covenant—the writer says, “You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 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, because they could not bear what was commanded: ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.’ The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear’” (Hebrews 12:18-21). In the Old Testament, when the Israelites worshipped God on Mount Sinai, they were afraid. Exodus 20:18-19 tells us, “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not let God speak to us or we will die.’”
Hence, the writer of Hebrews draws our attention to another mountain—the new covenant. “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 12:22-24). Compared to the previous mountain, we are invited to worship at the mount of Christ.
Yet, even after we have come to Christ, like the church of Hebrews, we can slip back to the old mountain. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, we may be standing at a distance from the fullness of what God invites us into, but when we worship at the mount of Christ, there is joy as we join the multitudes of angels. The mountain that we are worshipping at has a profound impact on the outcomes of our faith.
Which mountain are we drawing near to?
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for the new covenant that I can draw near to You with joy. I ask that You protect me from slipping back to the old mountain, but remember that You invite me to worship You because of the finished work of Christ.