"the mountain of life"
(A Series on Hebrews)
Westgate Chapel 4/1/90a.m. Hebrews 12:18-24
PROPOSITION: The old covenant provided a mountain that could not be touched, blazing fire, darkness, gloom, a tempest, the sound of a trumpet and the overwhelming voice of God, whereas the new covenant provides the city of God, innumerable angels, the assembly of the firstborn, the judge who is God of all, the spirits of men made perfect, Jesus the mediator, and the sprinkled blood that speaks of mercy.
- PASTOR Jim Cymbala called me yesterday morning just to chat and to tell me how much he appreciated your hospitality, and the worship, and the presence of the Lord in the services last Sunday.
- THEY taught their choir "Lord I love you and I worship you, you are worthy to be praised" this week, and they are going to be using it in their services this Sunday.
- WE talked about last Sunday morning services, and I passed on to him many of the encouraging words that I have heard from you about the messages that the Lord gave him for us.
- AND he made an interesting observation about Westgate.
- HE said that all week long, this thought has been running through his heart concerning us......that even though we have all the appearances of being a together, contented, satisfied middle class/upper middle class congregation, it impressed him that there is just as much pain and suffering and anguish beneath the surface as he has in Brooklyn Tabernacle......only there it is in the inner city, in the raw and usually exposed for all to see.
- I HAVEN'T been able to escape that thought for the passed 24 hours.
- IF his observation is correct, we are cover up artists, expert in concealing our pain, intent at all costs, of giving an impression that all is well.....while all along there is an unheard cry deep within many lives here every Sunday.
- I REMEMBER reading sometime ago, I believe written by Lloyd Ogilvie in his commentary on the gospel of Mark, "What we reveal to God and others.....God can heal. What we conceal within ourselves....we are left with."
- I THINK that Jim Cymbala's observation about Westgate helps me to look at you in a different way than I ever have this morning.
- THAT while we do all come to this place each week, looking our best, sounding our best, acting our best.....that underneath that middle class veneer, there is the unspeakable pain.....,
* Of children that have run away.
* Of daughters that have gotten pregnant.
* Of sickness and disease that is ravaging a family.
* Of unsaved family members and friends who have turned away from the Lord.
* Of broken dreams and shattered hopes.
* Of marriages that ended in broken promises, and torn and fractured relationships.
* Of strongholds that can't seem to be broken.
* Of family members who have passed away, and the grief has never subsided.
- AND, unlike the inner city of Brooklyn, where everything shows, we have done an excellent job, even this morning, of covering up the pain and pretending that all is well, when the wound seems like it will never heal.
- I BELIEVE it is significant, in God's timing of our lives, that we are in Hebrews 12:18-24 this morning.....and that we will be taking communion after my message this morning.
- I WANT to invite you to a mountain of healing this morning........where sin sick hearts can be set free, where the healing work of God can still mend the broken heart.
- PLEASE turn with me to Hebrews 12:18-24. READ.
ii. the untouchable sinai
- VERSES 18-21 describe for us the characteristics of man's relationship to God before the barriers were torn down by Jesus' blood, shed on the cross of Calvary.
- THERE was no effective way of taking care of the terrible division and seperation between God and made caused by sin.
- BECAUSE God is totally holy, since there is no shadow or darkness in Him at all, there is no place of communion and fellowship between Him and sinful man.
- AND in the Old covenant there was no effective way of removing the barrier between a holy God and sinful man.
- THE writer of Hebrews lists 7 things that characterize that old covenant.
1. It was initiated at a mountain, where the presence of God was, but it was a mountain that could not be touched.
* In fact, Exodus 19:12&13 says,
"Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, 'Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live.' Only when the ram's horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain."
* Well, the ram's horn was sounded when the presence of God had lifted. Only then was it safe for a person to go near the mountain where the presence of God was.
2. It was a mountain burning with fire, symbolic of the holiness and righteousness of God.
* Deuteronomy 4:11 speaks about the laws of God and how they were transmitted to man and says,
"You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while it blazed with fire to the very heavens....."
* It must have been a frightening sight, the whole mountain ablaze with the fire of God's consuming presence.
3. It was a mountain full of darkness, speaking of the mystery of a God you could know only at a distance....also referenced in Deut. 4:11.
4. It was a mountain of gloom, speaking of the hopelessness of man in his sin-ridden environment.
5. It was a mountain of tempest, speaking of the judgement of God that rages against all sin.
6. It was a mountain where the trumpet blast of God reverberated throughout the surrounding hill sides.
* Exodus 19:16 says, about the time that the law was given to Moses from Sinai.....,
"On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled."
7. Lastly, it was a mountain where the voice of God was heard, and the sounds of that voice were terrifying to the people.
* Exodus 19:17-19 says,
"Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him."
* Exodus 20:18&19 says,
"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 have God speak to us or we will die."
- THE God of the Old Testament is no different than the God of the New Testament.
- HE still cannot look apon sin. He is still completely holy, living in unapproachable light.
- HE still demands holiness.
- HE still is a consuming Fire.
- BUT the Old Covenant in the Old Testament was not able to remove the sin barrier in man, so the pathway to God's presence was fire and thunder and a voice that caused even Moses to be afraid.
- BUT there is another mountain about which the writer of Hebrews writes.
- AND standing between the two mountains is the cross of Calvary, where the sacrifice was made for the sins of man, and the power of sin and death was broken.
iii. the approachable zion
- ZION is a different mountain.
- THERE are seven things that the writer of Hebrews says about this mountain.
1. It is the mountain of the city of God.
* Now, we are invited to draw near. Hebrews 10:19-22 says of the new covenant,
"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water."
* Zion is the city of God. It is the place where the presence of God dwells amongst men.
* It is a presence that we can know and approach now, but it also has a future fulfillment. Paul says in Philippians 3:20-21,
"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."
2. There are innumerable angels there, singing and praising and worshipping God in His presence.
* It is a place of celebration. A place of joy. Revelation 5:11&12 describes the scene this way....,
"Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"
* And in Revelation 7:9-12 we join this throng of praise. It says...,
"After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!
3. There is an assembly of the firstborn there, whose names are written in heaven.
* These are men and women, from our day, and from the last 2,000 years who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb......who are wearing the robes of the righteousness of God.
4. There is a judge there who is God over all.....who still requires holiness.....but a holiness that is by faith through the blood of is Son, Jesus Christ. You can approach His presence without fear, for He judges rightly.
5. There are the spirits of just men made perfect. Justified by the blood of the Lamb. Made perfect by Jehovah M’kaddesh, our Sanctifier.
6. There is Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant of His blood.
7. There is the sprinkled blood of the cross.
* The blood of the Old Covenant could not take away sin. (Heb. 10:11)
* Abel's blood, murdered by his brother, Cain, called out for vengeance. (Gen. 4:10)
* This is the blood of the new covenant, and it calls out for mercy and grace.
- THIS is a mountain that you can approach.
- YOU need not be afraid.
- IT is a mountain that is touchable.
- THE presence of God is inviting.
- THE way into His presence has been paid by the blood of Jesus.
- YOU can come boldly this morning.
- YOU can bring all your anxiety and all your care. Come to the mercy seat, leave it there. Never a worry that He cannot bear. Never a friend like Jesus.
- COME this morning for healing to this mountain.
- COME for forgiveness to this mountain.
- COME for God's love, to this mountain.
- COME and be healed this morning.