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Hebrews 12:18-29

The Book of Hebrews  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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In this section, the writer of Hebrews crafts a story of two mountains. First, he reminds them of the terrors of Mount Sinai, although he never mentions Sinai by name. Second, he talks about the joys of Mount Zion. The two mountains are representations of the two covenants. Mount Sinai is the old covenant and Mount Zion is the new covenant. After discussing these two mountains, the writer warns his readers about the dangers of rejecting God’s message.

1. The Mountain of the Old Covenant ()

The writer recalled for them the encounter the people of Israel had with God at Mount Sinai in .

A. The terrifying nature of the experience ()

Hebrews 12:18–21 CSB
18 For you have not come to what could be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, gloom, and storm, 19 to the blast of a trumpet, and the sound of words. Those who heard it begged that not another word be spoken to them, 20 for they could not bear what was commanded: If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned. 21 The appearance was so terrifying that Moses said, I am trembling with fear.

i. The mountain could not be touched.

ii. The mountain was consumed with blazing fire.

iii. The mountain was blanketed in darkness.

iv. The people had a feeling of gloom.

v. The environment was storming.

vi. Trumpets were sounding.

vii. God was speaking.

The writers uses these seven different descriptions to remind his readers of the terrifying encounter with God. The people were told if they even touched the mountain, they were to be stoned to death. Even if an animal touched the mountain, the animal would be stoned to death. The manifestation of God at Mount Sinai was incredible, visible, and absolutely terrifying.

B. The people begged for God to stop speaking to them. ()

Hebrews 12:19–20 CSB
19 to the blast of a trumpet, and the sound of words. Those who heard it begged that not another word be spoken to them, 20 for they could not bear what was commanded: If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.
Exodus 20:18–19 CSB
18 All the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain surrounded by smoke. When the people saw it they trembled and stood at a distance. 19 “You speak to us, and we will listen,” they said to Moses, “but don’t let God speak to us, or we will die.”
The people were so overwhelmed by the encounter with God that they didn’t want it to continue.

C. Moses was overwhelmed by his encounter with God. ()

Hebrews 12:21 CSB
21 The appearance was so terrifying that Moses said, I am trembling with fear.
These verses are reminding the readers of the impressions the people of old had of their encounter with God under the Old Covenant at Mount Sinai. The implication is why would anyone want to go back to this kind of experience when we have something better.

2. The Mountain of the New Covenant ()

We don’t have to have the encounter with God the people had at Mount Sinai. We don’t have to have an experience of terror and separation.

A. The picture of a new encounter with God ()

Hebrews 12:22–24 CSB
22 Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering, 23 to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel.

i. God’s city, the heavenly Jerusalem (the city of peace)

ii. myriads of angels in celebration

iii. the presence of those who have died in Christ

iv. the very presence of God

v. the righteous people who have been perfected

vi. Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant

vii. the sprinkled blood, better than the witness of Abel

Abel’s blood cried out for God’s judgment, while Christ’s blood cries out for forgiveness.
These seven images paint a completely different experience than the people had with God at Mount Sinai. This is a picture of warmth, relationship, acceptance, and celebration.

B. The new covenant is a reason for celebration.

3. A Final Warning ()

Warning: Don’t reject God’s message. ()

Hebrews 12:25 CSB
25 See to it that you do not reject the one who speaks. For if they did not escape when they rejected him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven.

A. If there was no escape on earth for rejecting God’s earthly messengers, then there will definitely be not escape for rejecting God’s heavenly messenger. ()

The earthly messengers with the prophets of old. The heavenly messenger is none other than Jesus Christ.

B. Encountering God at Sinai shook the earth, but God will shake the earth again. ()

Hebrews 12:26 CSB
26 His voice shook the earth at that time, but now he has promised, Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.
If you read the book of Revelation and understand some of what is to come, you will definitely realize that God is going to shake things up drastically in the future.

C. The future shaking will result in the removal of the material universe. ()

Hebrews 12:27 CSB
27 This expression, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what is not shaken might remain.
2 Peter 3:10 CSB
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.

D. The only thing which will remain will be the kingdom of God. ()

Hebrews 12:28 CSB
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe,
The only proper response to such an amazing gift from God is thankfulness and service.

E. Reminder: God is a consuming fire. ()

Hebrews 12:29 CSB
29 for our God is a consuming fire.
Deuteronomy 4:24 CSB
24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
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