Bible Baptist Church

" Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." ...... John 3:3


Two Mountains: Law and Grace


Hebrews 12:18-29


Introduction:

·         The terror of the old and glory of the new

·         This is a sharp contrast- v. 18, v. 22

o   There is a place you have not come to!

o   There is a place you have come to!

·         There are two mountains

·         After reminding us of one who forsook his birthright blessing, we are reminded of our birthright blessing since we’ve been born again! As believers we enjoy a wonderful privilege, a wonderful position- a unique place, a holy place that has been set apart.

·         Mt. Sinai- the place of the giving of the Law

·         Mt. Zion- the place where grace abounds

·         Some wrongly argue that “too much” grace gives license and breeds disrespect towards God. Actually, grace gives us reverence and godly fear. Perhaps those who think grace gives them license to sin aren’t walking in grace at all.

·         This whole letter has taught us about the difference in our dispensation of grace vs. the Law

·         Dispensations- it’s not that God changes, but his dealings with man have varied

·         Truly the dispensations all point to Christ and the consummation of history during Christ’s Kingdom.

 

I.                    For ye have not come- v. 18-21

a.      Exodus 19:10-25 explains what it was like when Israel came to Mount Sinai. The mountain was fenced off; there was no trespassing on pain of death. The Israelites were commanded to wash their clothes and abstain from sexual relations. There was thunder, lightning and a thick cloud. There was the sound of a trumpet, calling forth the nation to meet with God. There was more smoke, like a furnace, and earthquakes; then the trumpet sounded long – until Moses spoke, and God Himself answered. God spoke to Israel from Sinai, but warned them in every way possible to stay away. (see v. 23-25; 20:18-21)

b.      V. 22- We are in a different place. Our relationship with God is not modeled after Israel’s experience on Mount Sinai. We come to God’s other mountain: Zion, the name of the hill upon which Jerusalem sits.

c.       The Law is the dispensation of preparation, promise, weakness, failure; the new dispensation is one of fulfillment, life, victory

d.      V. 18- The Old Covenant says stay back, the New says draw near!

e.      V. 18- the commandment caused fear and alarm with its penalty of death. V. 21- Even its mediator was fearful!

f.        This is what the Law does! It comes with demands which cannot be fulfilled, it produces human effort but not divine enablement. It can remove sin- it only discovers and condemns sin.

g.      Why should the Christian even hear of this if he hasn’t been called there? Who wouldn’t gladly leave this place if God calls him away from there?

                                                              i.      Our tendency is to always drift into human effort- trying to meet God’s demands in our power

                                                            ii.      God’s grace is so amazing because He met all of the demands of Sinai through the Lord Jesus, so we don’t have to! So you are not called to Sinai- you are not under the Law!

h.      MT. Sinai represents life by self-effort, by our own goodness. MT. Sinai prepares the way for Christ

i.        Exchange the fear of and terror of Sinai with faith and trust at Zion!

II.                  For ye have come- v. 22-25

a.      V. 22- You are come unto Mt. Zion. Illustr- the weary traveler who has to be told when he has arrived at his destination (GPS)

b.      MT. Zion is the spiritual dwelling place for us Christians!

                                                              i.      This is where we have our citizenship

                                                            ii.      A new city awaits him, angels await him, the chosen ones of God- the church await him, God awaits him

                                                          iii.      This is that city that Abraham longed for whose builder and maker is God!

                                                           iv.      The church on earth- enrolled in Heaven; awaiting our destiny. Salvation brings us to the city of God, to fellowship with His saints. Firstborn- inheritance

                                                             v.      The dwelling place of God, the judge of all, who makes men just and perfect

                                                           vi.      Jesus, our Mediator is better than Moses the Mediator of the Old Covenant

                                                         vii.      The blood sprinkled on earth in the OT is just a shadow of Christ’s blood sprinkled for our atonement! Illustr- Moses sprinkled the people to ratify the Old Covenant

c.       Consider the contrast:

                                                              i.      · At Mount Sinai, only Moses was allowed to draw near to God – at Mount Zion, an innumerable company, a general assembly is invited to draw near.

                                                            ii.      · Mount Sinai was characterized by guilty men in fear – Mount Zion features just men made perfect.

                                                          iii.      · At Mount Sinai, Moses was the mediator – at Mount Zion, Jesus is the mediator.

                                                           iv.      · Mount Sinai brings an Old Covenant, which was ratified by the blood of animals – Mount Zion brings a New Covenant, which is ratified by the blood of God’s precious Son.

                                                             v.      · Mount Sinai was all about exclusion, keeping people away from the mountain – Mount Zion is all about invitation.

                                                           vi.      · Mount Sinai is all about Law – Mount Zion is all about grace.

d.      We shouldn’t come to Mount Zion as if we were coming to Mount Sinai. So put away your hesitation and get bold in coming to God.

e.      Of course, the idea of the superiority of the New Covenant is also repeated. It shows that these Jewish Christians should not even consider going back and preferring the religion of Mount Sinai to the relationship of Mount Zion.

III.                God is a consuming fire- v. 25-29

a.      The greater obligation we have as Christians

b.      Greater privileges bring greater responsibility! How much more terrible the punishment for sin will be under the New Covenant

c.       Here Paul  begins with a contrast which is also a warning. Moses brought to earth the oracles of God. The word that he uses (chrematizein, Greek #5537) implies that Moses was only the transmitter of these oracles, the mouthpiece through which God spoke; and yet the man who broke these commandments did not escape punishment. On the other hand there is Jesus. The word used of him (lalein, Greek #2980) implies the direct speech of God. He was not merely the transmitter of God's voice, he was God's voice. If that be so, how much more will the man who refuses to obey him find punishment?

d.      There will be a final shaking where all of creation will be removed except for that which cannot be shaken- the city who has the right foundation0 MT. Zion, the Kingdom of God.

e.      Storms, and winds, and waves may come- but we cannot be shaken and removed!

f.        God is a consuming fire! The OT judgments are also but shadows of the fierce judgment that awaits those who reject the Son of God!

                                                              i.      His holiness is a fire that must burn up and destroy all evil!

g.      Reverence and awe- Psalm 2:11- Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. We have been cleansed by grace and can boldly enter into the holiest and draw near to God!

Conclusion:

·         Paul finishes with one of those threatening quotations which he so often flings like a thunderbolt at his readers. It is a quotation from Deuteronomy 4:24. Moses is telling the people that they must never break their agreement with God and relapse into idolatry. For he is a jealous God. They must worship him alone or they will find him a consuming fire

·         Since God is in fact a consuming fire, we do best to come to Him on His terms. These are the terms of unmerited approval in Jesus. He will consume all that is outside of that sphere.

·         The truth that God is a consuming fire is a comfort to the believer. They realize that the Father poured out His consuming fire of judgment on the Son in our place. When He did, it completely consumed the guilt of sin in all who believe. The penalty of sin was consumed in Jesus at the cross.