In this passage we are reminded of two major events when believers in Yahweh came into the presence of God but in very different ways. The first was at Mt Sinai where God spoke in a dramatic fashion to the people who had come in a group and where He gave Moses the Decalogue or 10 Commandments. The incident evoked fear in all who were there including Moses.
The second event may have come to individuals at different times as they heard or read the gospel and came to give their lives to the Risen Jesus and entered into the kingdom of heaven. This was described in numerous ways but showed the immensity of what faith secures as one enters the kingdom of heaven by coming to Jesus, by believing in Him.
A]. The Fear Of Those Who Came To The Revelation of God On Mt Sinai. 22:18-21
Moses had led the people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt to Mt Sinai. Here the Lord came among them, as the writer reflects on that event from Exodus 19-20.
Hebrews 22:18, ‘For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19, and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20, For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.”21, Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”’
The writer had successfully described the immensity of all that took place at Mt Sinai and the sense of awe and fear that it inspired among the people of God.
Now he introduces something quite different with the word “but.” The people of God under the new covenant had come, not to Mt Sinai, but to Mount Zion through their faith in Jesus. That meant belonging to the kingdom of God in all its fulness. It meant that they now belonged to God and to Jesus.
B]. The Security Of Those Who Have Come To Mt Zion and to Jesus. 22-24
In the following verses the writer describes different aspects of the kingdom of God that Jesus had established by the redemption he had accomplished through His life, death and resurrection. Believers now belonged to the heavenly Jerusalem and to all those who inhabited it, such as “innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.”
But they had also come to God, “[But you have come] to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect.” They had been accepted by Him through their faith in His Son.
Finally, he wrote that they had come to Jesus, 24, “[But you have come] to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” It was a reminder to his readers that Jesus had been the mediator of the new covenant through His sacrificial death on the cross for sinners. This sacrificial death had brought peace with God and accomplished far more than the death of Abel. The shedding of Abel’s blood cried out for vengeance for the righting of the death of a righteous man. Jesus’ blood was far more important. His had achieved forgiveness and reconciliation with God for unrighteous sinners, such as the writer’s readers.
C]. A Warning To Remain Faithful In Their Time Of Security. 25-27
The writer has shown why his believing readers could rest secure in the knowledge that God had accepted them in Christ. They now belonged to the kingdom of God as His children. However, such assurance should not lead to the neglect of remaining faithful to God, “25, See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26, At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27, This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.”
The Israelites had become fearful at the happenings at Mount Sinai especially as the ground had shaken with the power of God’s voice. Now the writer warns his readers about end-times when Christ returns and there comes the dramatic arrival of new heavens and a new earth by the power of God. All that is not of God disappears and only what belongs to the kingdom of God, remains.
D]. The Gratitude That Leads To Acceptable Worship. 28
How then should believers live whilst knowing that they are secure because they are in God’s kingdom? With a deep sense of gratitude to God and with the desire to worship Him with reverence and awe, “28, Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
With a deep sense of gratitude to God
The writer gives the reason for why they should be grateful to God. They had received “a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” Already in verses 26-27 had been the mention of a future shaking with the second coming of Jesus with the proviso being, “in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.” Their place in the kingdom of God and in the family of God would always be secure, no matter the degree of the violence of the shaking that would take place.
With the desire to worship Him with reverence and awe
“and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
“Offer” is from [latreuō; λατρεύω] meaning to render religious service or to worship God in the observance of religious rites. What they had to offer was “acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.”
“Acceptable” is from [euarestōs; εὐαρέστως] with the meaning of being in a manner of being well pleasing to God.
Such worship would escape the fire of God’s judgment which would consume all that was not acceptable or pleasing to God.
These 12 verses encompass the time between the events at Mount Sinai and the second coming of Jesus. The first readers and hearers of this epistle had been given a recognition of their place in the kingdom of God. It was all due to the grace of God who had shown the Israelites of old that He was powerful and holy. Believers in the new covenant established by Jesus also needed to recognise both the power of God who in His mercy, had brought them to Himself, and also His holiness.
The closing verses of the passage in verses 28-29 give the right response to the mercy and love of this powerful, holy God by urging the readers to be grateful for all God had done for them in Christ and to live for Him in lives devoted to His praise and glory.
There was the final reminder to them that what was not acceptable to God would suffer His consuming fire.
Blog No.410 posted on Thursday 28 July 2022.