Contributor: Peter Folikwe
Last week the topic excellently treated was “A call to listen to God”.
We were admonished to make it a lifelong project to live in peace with everyone and at the same time honour our God with a lifestyle of holiness.
Furthermore, we are to look out for each other; supporting others where they are weak with our strengths, not exploiting their weaknesses for personal gains.
We were warned against the ‘Esau syndrome’ that tends to have a myopic view of the ‘now’: the consequence of which is mortgaging enduring blessing of the future for short lived, immediate gains.
The concluding verses anchored on the call to hear and listen to God. That, if we choose not to listen to Jesus, we become distracted by lots of negative voices. In those days the Jews requested Moses who was considered holy to approach the mount of God - Sinai to hear from ‘a dreaded God’ on their behalf.
Today’s study will be looking at the concluding verses of Hebrew chapter 12: mainly encouraging us as believers to painstakingly continue to run the Christian race and not relent despite challenges of our faith along the way.
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels,”
Unlike the fearful and dreadful mount Sinai described in V18-21, we are encouraged to approach mount Zion (a place of friendship with God) - the heavenly Jerusalem to hear from ‘a loving and approachable God’, based on the finished work of salvation on the cross of Calvary.
The old covenant relationship God had with His people as described at Mount Sinai presented God as mean, dreaded and unapproachable God, because of their sins.
Reason being that the problem of sin still debarred people from approaching the presence of God in those days and Moses was the only one privileged to fearfully approach His presence to hear on behalf of his people; even though he trembled at God’s presence.
We thank God for the finished work of salvation on the cross of Calvary.
V22 reassures is that we have come to a spiritual and not a physical mountain: the spiritual presence of ‘the Holy, Living God’. Hallelujah!
It went further to describe this awesome presence of God as a place where innumerable company of angels dwell and worship the Almighty God. Imagine how dreadful mount Sinai was where God occasionally visited and talk with His people, compared with mount Zion where we have the audacity to approach His very presence and where innumerable company of angels dwell with Him.
The latter ought to be more dreadful, however our liberty to approach His very presence came through the blood of Jesus.
In addition, His word to save us, forgive us, heal us, transform us, encourage us when facing unpleasant circumstances, and ultimately translate us into His heavenly Jerusalem are freely available for us in the Bible.
“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,”
You and I have our names -This verse gives us the exposé that the church of God registered in heaven, in the holy presence of God. Another good reason why we relentlessly.must keep running the Christian race
Apostle Paul says in Rom 8:35-39....
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ...... nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.”
Reading further V23 states that God is the supreme Judge, not to be judged by Him, but allowed into the very presence of this awesome everlasting Judge; what a privilege!
A place where those who trust in God once physically alive but now dead, received their promise/reward dwelling the presence of God; enjoying the largesse of His eternal kingdom.
“to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”
This tells us clearly that Jesus is the one that mediated or simply put reconcile our relationship with God, changing the dreadful relationship at mount Sinai into a caring and loving relationship at Mount Zion.
Please note that God remains unchanged - Holy, He is the same God at mount Sinai and same at Mount Zion. Man on his part has remained sinful.
The sinful nature of man is probably worse these days than they were during the days of Moses, but we are able to approach the very presence of God today because of the new covenant in the blood of Jesus.
While the blood of Abel and all those innocently murdered continued cry to God for justice and vengeance, the blood of Jesus continues to cry out to God for mercy and compassion.
Rom 8:1 further confirms that “
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
In the early part of our study of the book of Hebrews we read that the early Jews offered the blood of animals as an atonement for the sins of men year in year out, but with the blood of Jesus, it is a once and for all sacrifice for our sins that reconciled us to God permanently. His blood has paid for all our wrongdoings, enabling us to be in the approachable presence of and unapproachable God.
“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.”
The unique gift God, He gave us in His only begotten son - Jesus according to John 3:16, brought us expressly into the presence of God unhindered. This verse admonishes us to listen to Jesus and not refuse His instructions in order not to lose he privileges to ultimately dwell in the presence of God.out in t
This tells of how valuable we are before God. Value as we know = Benefits less the cost. The higher the benefits, the higher the Value.
It means that God sees so much value in us that He decided to bear the cost of the life of His begotten Son for the benefit of our souls. In return, when we are offended by people, we bear those pains and forgive them as God did for us, considering the benefits ahead of us.
The second part of V25 however comes with a warning. Children of disobedience who refuse God’s word through Jesus face the consequence of the judgement of the wrath of God.
Meaning the inescapable way to avoid the wrath of God is to follow and listen to Jesus. John 10:4b says it is the sheep that hears the voice of the shepherd that follows Him.
This takes us to the promise of God in V26 which says God will shake away all our inadequacies and challenges: even the unpleasant circumstances that shake our faith
will be shaken away, if only we follow and listen to Jesus, clinging onto Him always.
V27 also emphasized things that cannot be shaken.
The word of God remains constant and unshakable. His promises are sure, His compassion they fail not. His kingdom is unshakable. Christ remains the solid rock in which we stand.
“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. For our God is a consuming fire.”
The concluding verses assures us of receiving this unshakable kingdom here on earth by faith.
The Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11: 2 “.....When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.”
We are therefore expected show gratitude to God by holy living.
Finally, the last verse emphasized that God, Who was feared and trembled at in the days of Moses has not changed from being a “Consuming Fire”. The only reason we are not consumed is because of Jesus our mediator of the new covenant. We therefore must offer a pleasing and acceptable worship to God with reverence.
We cannot afford to be playing church or behave like the hypocrites, just because Jesus has brought us to the presence of God unhindered by our sins.
God is a consuming fire.