Lesson Number 24


"For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: "And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow." And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, 'I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.') But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 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, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. 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, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, 'Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.' 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. 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" (Hebrews 12:17-29, NKJV)


Throughout this series of lessons, we have seen the preeminence of Jesus and superiority of the New Covenant. They are dominant themes in this marvelous book. We can trace the reason for this emphasis to man's propensity for Law, and Satan's aggressiveness to turn us from the truth of the Gospel. Because of competing influences within and without, in our members and in our environment, a deficient understanding of the New Covenant and its Mediator is a liability of unspeakable magnitude. Satan, in all of his subtlety and craftiness, is aggressive to distort our understanding of Christ and His accomplishments. In so doing, He knows our view of the New Covenant will be so affected as to render it powerless in our lives.

As exalted as the Son of God is, and as glorious as the New Covenant is, if they are not comprehended to some degree, they will bring no benefit to the individual. The Kingdom of God is one of understanding, comprehension, and persuasion. Its effectiveness is realized in the experience of Divine fellowship. Here is a Kingdom that consists of "righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 14:17). We realize all these within the circumference of circumspection. They involve the heart, soul, mind, and strength--the whole person. Though unseen, this is not a mystical kingdom, or one not obvious to the intellect. Although a considerable amount of Christianity, both historic and contemporary, has been associated with the mysterious and incomprehensible, the Word of God does not support such a view. With no desire to be offensive, I must say that such a cerebration is more related to the occult than to the truth of God. Allow me to elaborate on this point briefly.

The Centrality of Understanding

FAITH is the means through which the things of God are apprehended. It is the primary activity of those in Christ. Faith is a gift from God (Phil 1:29; Rom 12:3; 2 Pet 1:1; Rom 10:17). Its obtainment brings clarity to the understanding; i.e., "By faith we understand . . . " (Heb 11:3). Faith is related to persuasion and conviction, involving the intellect, and the emotion and will as well. In "the kingdom of Christ and God" (Eph 5:5), power is found in realization, participation, and comprehension (2 Cor 13:5 (NIV); 2 Pet 1:4; Eph 3:18). Knowledge, understanding, and discernment are the means through which Divine fellowship is realized (1 Cor 1:5; Eph 1:17,18; Col 1:9; 1 John 5:20; Heb 5:14). Those lacking these attributes are consistently represented as being in danger. Often such a condition is equated with being lost and alienated from God (Rom 1:31; Eph 4:18; 1 Thess 4:5; 2 Thess 1:8).

The Word of God is addressed to the understanding, and is the means through which spiritual life is maintained (Matt 4:4). The Scriptures are provided for our "learning" (Rom 15:4). They "make known" the redemptive mystery of God, kept secret from the foundation of the world (Rom 16:26). The promises of God are there (Rom 1:2), and they make us "wise unto salvation" (2 Tim 3:15).

God has extended Himself to become comprehensible to us. That is why the Law was given. It is involved in the Son of God coming into the world. He sent prophets and Apostles to clarify Himself and His purpose to mankind. The "knowledge of God" thus becomes the means through which salvation in all of its aspects is realized. Jesus comes to "give us an understanding, that we might know Him" (1 John 5:20). Seeing this, Paul abandoned all competing pursuits so he might "know Him" (Phil 3:10). The "knowledge of God" is the means by which we "have escaped the pollutions of the world" (2 Pet 2:20). God has provided "all things that pertain to life and godliness." However, they are appropriated "through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" (2 Pet 1:3). "Grace and peace" are "multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (2 Pet 1:2). Apostolic efforts were directed toward us "increasing in the knowledge of God" (Col 1:10).

I want you to see that a religion of ignorance is not from God. One that is based upon the emotion and shrouded by mystery is false and debilitating. If men are not being brought to the peek of their potential as the "offspring of God" they are not living within the circumference of Divine influence. Jesus, the Divine pattern for us all, "increased in . . . wisdom, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52). If corresponding increases is not found in us, we have missed the blessing, and our religion is in vain. Our spiritual advance includes growth in the "knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 3:18).

The Thrust of This Book

He is God's exclusive Spokesman to us (Heb 1:2). The greatest honor and glory have been placed upon Him (Heb 3:3). As the Son, He is transcendent to angels, and His Word is the preeminent one (Heb 1:5,13). He came into the world to taste death for every man (Heb 2:9). He walked among us so that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest (Heb 2:17). He effectively dealt with sin and the devil (Heb 2:14). Through His blood, provision is made for the cleansing of the conscience (Heb 9:14). He has been exalted and enthroned to bring many sons to glory (Heb 2:10), and ever lives to make intercession for the sons of God (Heb 7:25). He will come again, bringing the fulness of our salvation (Heb 9:28). This book helps us understand Christ Jesus, the Son of God!

Second, the New Covenant is not like the Old one. It is a better covenant, established upon better promises (Heb 8:6). It provides for the cleansing of the conscience, or the perfection of the believer (Heb 7:19). It provides access to a satisfied God through One Mediator (Heb 10:19-22). The Law of God becomes a part of the individual in this covenant (Heb 8:10; 10:16). It is no longer against us, and Divine requirements are not longer abrasive to us. In this covenant, we can "obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need" (Heb 4:16). All of the constituents of the Covenant "know God," from "the least unto the greatest" (Heb 8:11). The book helps us to understand the New Covenant!

The passage before us is a Divine initiative to increase our understanding of the New Covenant. Knowing that the minds of the Hebrews had been diverted, the Holy Spirit aggressively undertakes to bring them to their right mind--to see the New Covenant in light of Divine purpose. Their view of Christ and the Covenant had robbed them, causing them to "draw back." Rather than going on to perfection, they had ceased to grow, and needed have the basics made firm to their understanding once again (Heb 5:12). They were in a seriously flawed spiritual condition! We must view these admonitions as relevant to our time. We have not yet passed into the ultimate safety zone! What we have now possessed by faith.


"For you have not come to the mountain . . . But you have come to Mount Zion. . . " True spiritual perspective includes what has NOT occurred in Christ Jesus, and what has been accomplished. This is a form of reasoning that is particularly productive. It is found throughout the writings of the New Covenant.

Think of some key expressions of Scripture. " . . . for ye are not under the law, but under grace" (Rom 6:14). "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit . . . " (Rom 8:9). "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves . . . " (Eph 2:8). "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness" (1 Thess 5:4). "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness" (1 Thess 5:5). " . . . that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter . . . "(Rom 7:6). " . . . who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Rom 8:1). "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God . . . "(1 Cor 2:12). "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor 4:18). "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God . . . "(2 Cor 10:4). "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law" (Gal 5:18). "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb 4:15). "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself . . . " (Heb 9:24). "Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy" (1 Pet 2:10).

There are two contrasting worlds. One is seen, and one is unseen. One is temporal, and one is eternal. One is dominated by sin, the other by righteousness. One is defiled, the other is pure. One can be shaken, the other cannot. The thrust of Jesus' ministry is to deliver us in every possible aspect from the seen and temporal world, and bring us into accord with the unseen and eternal one. The New Covenant provides for the accomplishment of this objective.

In the passage before us, the Holy Spirit contrasts Divine association in the temporal realm with Divine fellowship in the eternal realm. He draws a comparison between what the Divine economy accomplished in the earth, with what was accomplished in heaven. A comparison is made between religious activities in the flesh and those in the Spirit. He takes the greatest revelation in earth and compares it with insight in the heavenlies. In these comparisons the superiority of Christ and the New Covenant will be clarified. The benefits realized in Christ Jesus will be thereby perceived as superior in every way. In addition, we will see the reason for the nullification of the Old Covenant. The absurdity of attempting to serve God on the basis of Law will become apparent to our hearts. Until this comparison is comprehended, men will not worship the Lord "in Spirit and in truth" (John 4:23-24).


Israel's experience at Mount Sinai is one of the most awesome events in human history. Nothing on this scale had occurred since the creation of "the worlds." Here was the most extensive revelation of God since the foundation of the world. More of the nature of God was revealed than at previous times. More of His mind was unveiled than in prior periods. So far as sensible evidence is concerned, more of God was revealed here than at any former time. This was truly an awesome occasion. Yet, with all of its spectacular occurrences, it was vastly inferior to what has been revealed in Christ Jesus. It pales in insignificance in the glory of the New Covenant.

"For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched . . . " There, at Sinai, was a mountain that could be seen with the eye and touched with the hand. This mountain was accessible to human senses. Fleshly experience attested it. There is something of an anomaly here. The mountain was touchable by possibility, but untouchable by law. It was there, but was rendered inaccessible by Divine pronouncement. The people could come near to the mountain, but could not touch it. Hear the Word of the Lord. "You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, 'Take heed to yourselves that you do not go up to the mountain or touch its base. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. 'Not a hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot with an arrow; whether man or beast, he shall not live.' When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain" (Ex 19:12-13). By saying "Not a hand shall be laid upon him," a most arresting thing can be perceived. The person who dared to touch this mountain could not himself be touched. He was to be slain at a distance, i.e., "stoned or shot with an arrow." Our text reminds us, "And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow" (Heb 12:20).

What we have come to is not perceived with the senses. The strength of our religion is not found in sight or touch. It is transcendent to the natural order. A theology that emphasizes what we can see and touch is off-center, at the very best. It is incorrectly focused, and will ultimately fail to uphold those who embrace it. If God has not brought us to a mountain that can be touched, we cannot emphasize things in that category. If our religion is brought to its apex in this world, it is in vain. It makes little difference what sections of Scripture may be cited in support of such an approach, that is not where we have been brought!

Fire, Darkness and Tempest

"For you have not come . . . to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet . . . " Sinai was intimidating and fearful. The description of Sinai at the giving of the Law is most vivid. "Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled" (Ex 19:16). "And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder . . . " (Ex 19:19). "Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking . . . " (Ex 20:18). "The sight of the glory of the LORD was like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain in the eyes of the children of Israel" (Ex 25:17). " . . . the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness" (Deut 4:11).

The Psalmist referred to this awesome event. "The earth shook; The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel" (Psa 68:8). Even Habakkuk referred to the mountain that could be touched. "God came from Teman, The Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His glory covered the heavens, And the earth was full of His praise. His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, And there His power was hidden. Before Him went pestilence, And fever followed at His feet. He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations. And the everlasting mountains were scattered, The perpetual hills bowed. His ways are everlasting" (Hab 3:3-6). Do men seek a sign? Something they can see? Something they can touch? How about Sinai!! Here was a mountain that could be touched, yet men were forbidden to do so! Indeed, once the event was under way, no man wanted to touch it! It induced fear and trembling! WE HAVE NOT COME TO A MOUNTAIN LIKE THIS!

God spoke to the people out of this fear-producing environment. "And the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire" (Deut 4:12). "These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly, in the mountain from the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice . . . " (Deut 5:22). The people "heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire . . . " (Deut 5:26). There was not the slightest indication of Divine meekness or condescension at the mount that could be touched. People did not conclude their God had a heart for the people. Grace and mercy were not the dominant perceptions then. Human senses dictated how people thought. Mark it well, when what is seen dominates, what cannot be seen recedes into the background! If Divine utterance in the tangible surroundings is superior, this mountain is to be preferred. However, there is not a single soul present at Sinai that would prefer this kind of communication. If you want God to draw near to you in a manner perceptible to the flesh, here is what you can expect.

There was a "tempest" of great magnitude at Sinai--a mighty storm. It was as though nature convulsed at the presence of the Lord. The occasion was, in the words of Isaiah 28:2. "Like a tempest of hail and a destroying storm." Doubtless, it was a time like that spoken by the prophet, "thunder and earthquake and great noise, With storm and tempest And the flame of devouring fire" (Isa 29:6). Here was a revelation most awesome revelation. In the words of Isaiah, it was a time of "the descent of His arm, with . . . the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, tempest, and hailstones" (Isa 30:30).

It may be countered that Jesus did, in fact, appear to us in a visible and apparent way (John 1:14). This is true, but He was NOT perceived. As it is written, "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him" (John 1:11). The people even His own disciples did not perceive His Person. When the demons recognized Him, even they trembled, crying out, "What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?" (Matt 8:29). The real revelation of Christ is through faith, not through the eyes or ears--even when He "dwelt among us"! We have NOT come to a mountain that can be touched to an economy of sight and touch!

No More! No More!

"For you have not come to . . . the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. For they could not endure what was commanded . . . " God DID speak at Sinai! The surroundings, however, were so awesome and fear-inducing the people pled for a cessation of Divine utterance. In fear the people cried out to Moses, "You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die" (Ex 20:19). Before departing from this world, Moses reminded the people of their request. " . . . you desired of the LORD your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die'" (Deut 18:16).

Our text declares, "they could not endure what was commanded." It was contrary to them, abrasive to their natures. God appeared and spoke to them in an external manner, but they could not bear the vision of His words. The people could not endure the revelation of the One from whose glory they had fallen. We have NOT come to such a situation! God does not speak to us as fallen creatures, but as those who have been reconciled through the death of His Son. He does not invade the course of nature, as at Sinai, to make Himself known to us.

Do Not Come Near!

"And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow. And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, 'I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.'" Here we come to grips with the chief weakness of the Old Covenant. It did NOT allow the individual to come near to God! The one man who was invited to approach the Living God was filled with fear and trembling. The sight was so awesome, he nearly died in the wake of Divine revelation. Moses, with whom God spoke "face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings" (Num 12:8), was not at all comfortable with the occasion. He could well have responded in the words of the Psalmist, "My flesh trembles for fear of You, And I am afraid of Your judgments" (Psa 119:120). How appropriate would be the words of Isaiah during such an occasion. "Woe is me, for I am undone!" (Isa 6:5).

The people were prohibited from drawing near! Indeed, if they were tempted to come close before the revelation of God took place, the very notion fled from them when "the earth shook" and "the heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God" (Psa 68:8). There was a moral gulf between God and the people. They had fallen from His glory, and lost a desire and capacity to interface with Him. The Law did not provide for the people to approach God. Not only could they NOT touch the mountain from which the Law was given, the ceremonial Law did not allow their approach either. Even if some would dare to desire such a thing, their defiled conscience would not allow them to come near to the Almighty God (Heb 10:10- 3). We have not come to such a place where God cannot be approached! Blessed be the name of the Lord!


The advantage of believers is found in knowing where they have come. The only way Israel could identify the presence of God was through their fleshly senses. That awareness actually drove them away because it was in sharp conflict with their natures. It is not so with those in Christ Jesus. A transformation has taken place within them that enables them to enter "heavenly places" (Eph 2:6). They can enter into fellowship with God's own Son (1 Cor 1:9), and draw near to the throne of grace (Heb 4:16). That ability, however, cannot be put into use apart from an awareness of where we are. If I do not know where grace has brought me, I will not avail myself of its privileges. Therefore, the Spirit now reasons with us concerning the effectiveness of God's "great salvation." The design of this section is to provoke us to avail ourselves of covenantal benefits. The necessity for this passage is simply this: our participation in the blessing depends upon us availing ourselves of Divine provision. The New Covenant is one of closeness. In it, provision is made to draw near to God. The appropriation of "grace to help in the time of need" can only take place when we are near to our Redeemer. The outer court will yield no eternal benefits! Now, the Spirit announces where salvation has placed us.

This is where we ARE in Christ Jesus. Mind you, it is not where we HAVE come, nor where we OUGHT to come, but where we "ARE COME." This is not a historical occurrence, but a present reality. It is not an occasion we look back to, but one which we presently enjoy. We will not take advantage of this blessed place, however, until our hearts are convinced of its reality.

"But you have come to Mount Zion . . . " Thank God, we have NOT come to Sinai! Rather, we have to a spiritual mountain, for which redemption has suited us. "Mount Zion" is identified with the Lord's dwelling place, while Sinai was an earthly location. Scripture often speaks of "Mount Zion," developing associations in our minds that are requisite to finishing the race. This is a place of spiritual elevation that, in contrast to Sinai, is "beautiful." As it is written, "Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion . . . " (Psa 48:2). Here is a realm "Which cannot be moved, but abides forever" (Psa 125:1). It is the place where God dwells, and where provision is made for the dwelling of His people (Isa 4:5; 8:18). Here is the place of blessing, where God "commanded the blessing; Life forevermore" (Psa 133:3). How glorious the "situation" in which the redeemed find themselves (Psa 48:2). It is a place of advantage, blessing, and benefit. Here Divine fellowship is experienced within the environment of peace and joy.

Keep in mind, the Spirit is here contrasting where we have come with where Israel came. He is drawing a comparison between the realm we occupy and the one inhabited by Israel at their peak. The superiority of our environment is here declared.

The City of the Living God

"But you have come to . . . the city of the living God." This is the "city" God has prepared for His people -- a municipality that will never end or be relocated (Heb13:14). It is, as David put it, "the city of the Great King" (Psa 48:2). Here God resides, and here the Divine repository of all blessing and eternal benefit is found. Those who are aware of its glories have joined the chorus of the centuries, "Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God!" (Psa 87:3).

The preeminent awareness of this "city" is God Himself. Those who dwell within its realms are not distracted by the affairs of this world. It is not their city, but it is God's city--"the city of the Living God." Sinai was called "the mount of God" (Ex 4:27; 18:5; 24:13; 1 Kgs 19:8). It was a place of restricted, limited revelation, tumult, and fear. But it is not so with "the city of the Living God." What we possess in Christ is as superior to the Law as a city is to a mountain! It is a place of heavenly commerce, teeming activity, safety, and provision.

At Sinai, only Moses spoke "face to face" with God (Ex 33:4; Deut 34:10). He was a solitary figure in a restricted place, bounded by a fence and Divine prohibition. But it is not so in the "city of the Living God." Here is a dwelling place for multitudes, with abundant provision and access to the King. Sinai was in the wilderness, solitary and desolate. But the "city of the Living God" is in the midst of abundance, with the glory of God filling it. The people are not gathered around it, but within it. The saved do not journey to this city seasonally (Deut 16:16), but remain within it's blessed environ.

At Sinai, God came down to the earth in covering of for, smoke, tempest, and earthquake. It is not so where we have come. Rather than God coming to us, invading the temporal environment with awesome disruption, we have been "raised up together, and made"to "sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph 2:6). Sinai is where God came. "The city of the Living God" is where we have come!

The Heavenly Jerusalem

"But you have come to . . . the heavenly Jerusalem . . . " This glorious "city" was typified by earthly Jerusalem, where God placed His name (1 Kgs 11:36; Jer 3:17). That city was also called "the city of God" (Psa 46:4). It was where God "placed: His name--the city with which He identified Himself, and with wich the people identified with Him (1 Kgs 8:29; Neh 1:9; 1 Kgs 11:36). The temple of God was here (2 Kgs 23:4; Mark 11:11).

However, "the heavenly Jerusalem" is vastly superior to earthly Jerusalem. That city was destroyed by its enemies, according to the word of Christ (Matt 23:37-38). In olden times, it was besieged by Pekan (2 Kgs 16:5), the Philistines (2 Chron 21:16-17), Sennacherib (2 Kgs 18:13), and Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kgs 24:10). God judged this city, sparing only those who feared Him and sighed because of the abominations found in it (Ezek 9:1-11).

Such besiegements have never taken place against "the city of the Living God." This city is not accessible to our enemies. The devil, with his motley band of angels, has been cast from this city, and cannot enter its realms in any sense or at any time (Rev 12:9; Luke 10:18). This is "the Jerusalem which is above," and is the "mother of us all" (Gal 4:26). Freedom is experienced here, and there is no form of bondage to the lower elements (Gal 4:26).

This is a place of spiritual commerce, where "the things of the Spirit of God" (Rom 8:5; 1 Cor 2:14) are dispensed and enjoyed. The qualification for citizenry in this city is not to be found in the flesh, but in approximation to the Son of God. This is the location of "all spiritual blessings," made accessible to all of its inhabitants (Eph 1:6). No dweller in this city is alone. There are no juniper trees under which discouraged men weep (1 Kgs 19:4). There are no agonizing Gethsemanes, from which "strong cryings and tears" may be heard (Mark 14:32-34; Heb 5:7). In a typical way, it was true of earthly Jerusalem, but much more of the "heavenly Jerusalem," "this the city that men call The perfection of beauty" (Lam 2:15). Here is where we HAVE come!

An innumerable company of angels

"But you have come to . . . to an innumerable company of angels . . . " Angels were present at Mount Sinai. It is written of God's descent to that holy mount, "The LORD came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came with ten thousands of saints . . . " (Deut 33:2). Again, catch the magnitude of that occasion, when a fiery law went forth to Israel. "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, Even thousands of thousands; The Lord is among them as in Sinai, in the Holy Place" (Psa 68:17). Stephen affirmed that ancient Israel had "received the law by the direction of angels" (Acts 7:53). But that awesome assembly of lofty beings is not to be compared with the blessed place where "we are come."

At Sinai the angels were countable. Where we are come, they are "innumerable." At Sinai, the angels spoke the Law, and the people were frightened (Heb 2:2). These angels are joyful because of the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. They have witnessed the reconciling of the world to God (2 Cor 5:18-21). At Sinai, there were fear and dread in the presence of the holy angels. But now, where we have come, "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God" (Luke 15:10). Some versions, accentuating this reality, translate this verse as follows. "But you have come to . . . innumerable angels in festal gathering" (RSV), and "You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly" (NIV).

Mind you, we are in the company of these angels, though we cannot see them. They are behind the scenes, inaccessible to human senses, "sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation" (Heb 1:14). They are our friends, not our foes. They are for us, not against us. The Gospel we preach intrigues them (1 Pet 1:12), and they saw Christ Jesus for Who He was, when the world knew Him not (1 Tim 3:16). These are "elect angels" before whom we live and are summoned into Kingdom activities (1 Tim 5:21). Let your mind ponder where you are come in Christ Jesus!

To the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn Who Are Registered in Heaven "But you have come to . . . to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven . . . " Spiritual Babylon (Rev 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2-21) has taught believers to think in terms of a sect or denomination. We are asked, "What church do you belong to?", or a similar question. The Lord, however, does not encourage us to think with such a limited perspective. God is "great" (Job 26:26), and His salvation is also "great" (Heb 2:3). We have NOT been called into an earthly society, but a heavenly one. There are no sects or divisions in heaven, but perfect unity. What is more, the only valid registry of God-approved people is in heaven.

When we come into Christ, we become identified with every individual recognized and approved by God. We also become part of the gathering, or household, over which Jesus Christ, the "Firstborn," presides, and to which He ministers. The term "Firstborn" does not insinuate that our Savior is a created being, as some sophists affirm. It is rather a spiritual perspective. He is the "Firstborn from the dead," or the First to be raised from the dead as Conqueror and exalted One (Rev 1:6). He is the example of what we shall be--the "Firstborn." He is also the "Firstborn" in the sense of being the First of a new order--a new family, as it were. Scripture puts it this way, He is "the firstborn among many brethren" (Rom 8:29). By this, the Spirit means the exalted Christ is the One to Whom the saved are being conformed; the example of what they shall be in character. As it is written, "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." The society to which we "are come" are those being conformed to the image of God's Son. These are "the elect" (Col 3:12) whom heaven has recognized. The grand amalgamation of personalities is a family "in heaven and earth" which is named after Christ (Eph 3:15). These are the ones God has received, those to whom Jesus ministers, and who are at home in the presence of the Lord. It is recognition enough to be identified with this "general assembly." By saying "general," the universality of this gathering is accentuated. Blessed is the person who finds satisfaction in being identified with this assembly. They can "rejoice in this . . . because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20). They are no less than heavenly alumni!

God the Judge of All

"But you have come to . . . to God the Judge of all . . . " Herein is a marvelous thing, underscoring the magnitude of our salvation. Note that it does not say we have come to God in the capacity of a Savior, as in 1 Timothy 1:1. Nor, indeed, have we come to Him as our Redeemer, as in Psalm 78:35. Those, and other, expressions are precisely true, but they are not the point of this text. Our salvation is so thorough and extensive in Christ that it holds up under Divine scrutiny.

Christ's appointed role is to "bring us to God" (1 Pet 3:18). He will not bring us defiled and trembling before "the Judge of all the earth" (Gen 18:25). His ministry is not to set us before God as Israel stood before Him at Sinai! In the ultimate sense, He will "present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 24-25). The final presentation will find us rejoicing with "exceeding joy," not trembling with exceeding greatness as did Moses (1 Pet 4:13).

Even now, we "are come" to God in the capacity of "Judge of all." And what are we to expect from this confrontation? It will build our confidence if we can see this truth. Take, for example, the testimony of John. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Whenever we sin, we come before the Lord in confession. We face Him as a Judge. What does He do as we stand before Him, acknowledging our transgression without reservation? He passes judgment, but not to condemnation. "He is faithful and just to forgive us." That is an act of judgment! Because we are "in the Son," and are availing ourselves of the grace that is in Him, He judges us forgiven and cleansed! Praise His holy name! We do not shrink back from His judgment, but seek it because of Christ's vicarious atonement.

The Spirits of Just Men Made Perfect

"But you have come to . . . the spirits of just men made perfect . . . " The greater part of Christ's family is "in heaven," as opposed to "earth" (Eph 3:15). While we are surely identified with all the saints in earth, as our "your brethren that are in the world" (1 Pet 5:9), our fellowship is not confined to them. We identify with our suffering brethren as ourselves "in the body also" (Heb 13:3). But we must not forget those who have finished their race.

Notice that we "are come" to "the spirits of just men made perfect." These are the most noble of our race, from righteous Abel to the last to have completed the course set before them! These are in an eternal state presently, awaiting the final gathering together of all things, "not only which are n heaven, but also which are on earth" (Eph 1:10). These are not "in the body," but are "spirits." They are among that "great cloud of witnesses" that surround us, attesting to the faithfulness of God and the effectiveness of faith (Heb 12:1). These are all who have fought a "good fight," finished their "course," and "kept the faith" (2 Tim 4:7). A voice from heaven told John of this glorious community. "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them'" (Rev 14:13). While some are overly concerned about organizational identity, let the saints of God rejoice in being identified with those who have departed the arena of warfare. How good to be perceived as members of that group!

Some have interpreted this to mean all of the saved, but this is not at all the case. These "spirits" have been perfected, a condition we enjoy in this world only be imputation. The best of those in the world confesses, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended . . . " (Phil 3:12-13). The word "spirits," whether used of angels (Heb 1:14), evil personalities (Matt 8:16; Acts 19:12), or those who have died (1 Pet 3:19) generally refers to those having no visible, or corporeal, body. The only exceptions to this accentuate the personality of humanity, as distinguished from their bodily frame (1 Cor 14:32; Heb 12:9).

To what extent this fellowship is realized is not known. It is a spiritual brotherhood, as opposed to a cognitive one--yet it is very real. If the rich man knew of the activities of earth from hell (Luke 16:28), it is inconceivable that similar knowledge is not experienced by the godly in some way. In fact, from paradise, Abraham was also aware of the affairs of earth (Acts 16:29). The "souls under the altar," martyred because of their testimony, were also conscious to some extent of the happenings of earth (Rev 6:9-10). The Lord Jesus, while yet in the world, enjoyed fellowship from two representatives of this number (Luke 9:30-31). When Jesus died, "many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many" (Matt 27:52-53). Let no one, therefore, doubt the existence these spirits, or their capacity to have some form of fellowship with us. Only glory will tell the extent of this mysterious fellowship to which we "are come." It would be well for us to consider these perfected "spirits" in our speech and conduct.

Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant

"But you have come to . . . Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant . . . " In the incarnation, Jesus came to us (John 1:14). In salvation, we come to Him! We do not come to Him as mere spectators, or as ones engaged in a formality, like that experienced under the Law. We "are come" to Him in the capacity of "Mediator of the New Covenant." The "better promises" of that "better covenant" (Heb 8:6) are ministered to us by this "One Mediator" (1 Tim 2:5). He presently is "bringing many sons to glory" (Heb 2:10) by means of His mediatorial ministry. We come to Him as those requiring and desiring the provisions He is ministering.

But Jesus is also bringing God to us, as it were. "For through Him we both (Jew and Gentile) have access by one Spirit unto the Father" (Eph 2:18). Our salvation was not completed at the cross, as common as that perception may be. When Jesus cried, "It is finished," He did not mean His work was completed, but that the vicarious atonement was completed. The Savior had concluded the work He had been given to complete in a "prepared" body (Heb 10:5-10). But there was more to do if we were to be glorified!

He had to take His life back again, according to the commandment given to Him by the Father (John 10:17-18). He still had to present "Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). He still had to commission His disciples, and charge them to wait for the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4). It was necessary for Him to be "received up into heaven, and sit down at the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19). His intercessory work must be aggressively waged, lest we could not be saved "to the uttermost" (Heb 7:25).

Simplistic views of salvation are damaging to man's spirit. They inhibit, if not stop altogether, spiritual growth. The phrase "finished work of Christ" is not in the Bible--in any version. It is true, Jesus affirmed, "I have finished the work which You have given Me to do" (John 17:4)--but that was said BEFORE He died. Although it may be said that Jesus said this in anticipation of His death, that does not appear to be the meaning of His words. In the next verse Jesus addresses the matter of His death, asking the Father to glorify His name. He states "the work" that He had "finished" in these words. Although it is a lengthy passage, it will do us well to consider it. "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine, and I am glorified in them. Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth" (John 17:6-19)

As Jesus prepared Himself to lay down His life, He gave the disciples, as it were, back to the Father. He no concentrated upon His substitutionary death. He had lived a spotless life, thereby finishing His work. He had resisted all attacks of the devil, thereby finishing His work. He had kept the disciples, thereby finishing His work. He had communicated to them the Word given to Him, thereby finishing His work. He had completed the EARTHLY work given to Him, and now prepared to offer the only sacrifice for sin God would ever accept.

When Jesus cried, "It is finished," He did not mean His work was completed, but that the vicarious atonement was completed. The Savior had concluded the work He had been given to complete in a "prepared" body (Heb 10:5-10). But there was more to do if we were to be glorified! We have come to Him as beneficiaries of those indispensable blessings. He has charge of the law being written upon our hearts (Heb 8:10; 10:16). He is in charge of the peace of God keeping our hearts and minds (Phil 4:7), and supplying all of our "need according to His riches in glory" (Phil 4:19). Until "the day of God" (2 Pet 3:12), the saints of God need to be perfected, established, strengthened, and settled (1 Pet 5:10). This is accomplished through "the Mediator of the New Covenant," to Whom we "are come."

The Blood of Sprinkling That Speaks Better Things Than That of Abel "But you have come to . . . the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel." Christ's blood is not the only speaking blood! Abel's blood spoke with a shout, as it were, to God. God said to Abel's murderer, Cain, "The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand" (Gen 4:10-11). Abel's blood cried condemnation, bringing a curse upon the head of Cain. It stirred the indignation of God, so that Cain was rejected. Hidden from the face of God, Cain became a "fugitive and a vagabond" (Gen 4:14). That is what speaking blood can do!

The blood of Christ spoke condemnation to Judas who betrayed him (Matt 27:4), and to the Jews who rejected and crucified Him (Matt 27:25). It also will bring a curse upon the individual "who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing" (Heb 10:29). Those who treat this blood of the covenant casually, partaking of the cup of the Lord unworthily and with due remembrance, "will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Cor 11:27). Make no mistake about this, the blood of Christ does not speak "better things" for everyone!

For those within the covenant, however, whose lives are "hid with Christ in God" (Col 3:3), the blood of Christ speaks "better things." To them it speaks forgiveness (Eph 1:7), redemption (Rev 5:9), peace (Col 1:20), and justification (Rom 5:9). Here the saints find a thorough cleansing from "all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:7). It speaks to God in their behalf, making them acceptable. Through this blood, we have boldness to "enter the Holiest," the very presence of God (Heb 10:19). The "blood of Christ" has brought us nigh, who once were "far off" (Eph 2:13). This blood is the appointed means of purging "the conscience from dead works to serve the Living God" (Heb 9:14). The propitiation, or covering of our sins, is appropriated through "faith in His blood" (Rom 3:25). This is blood we can "drink," ingesting it into our spirits, and thereby obtaining eternal life (John 6:54).

By saying we "are come" to this blood, its accessibility is declared. These benefits are all within our reach! Faith obtains what God has provided. We can realize forgiveness, redemption, peace, and justification, i.e., we can know the reality of them. We can do more than talk about cleansing, we can appropriate it--we "are come" to the "blood of sprinkling" that sanctifies is, making us useable to God! If we "are come" to this blood, we can "enter" confidently into the very sanctuary of heaven! Everything accomplished by this blood is therefore on our behalf! Praise the Lord!


The Holy Spirit now pleads with us to act upon the knowledge we have received. If, by faith, we do not act upon the truth, it will bring no benefit to us. The idea that we can realize the benefits of Christ's work and the privileges of the New Covenant independently of effort is an imagination.

Do Not Refuse Him

"See that you do not refuse Him who speaks." This is our personal responsibility. While it is "hard to kick against the goads" of the Holy Spirit, it is also true that He "will not always strive with man" (Acts 9:5; Gen 6:3). Notice, it is "Him" (the enthroned Son and Mediator) that is refused, not merely His word. An example of spurning the Lord is found in the parable of the great supper. Hear the parable. "A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, 'Come, for all things are now ready. But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.' And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.' Still another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come'" (Luke 14:16-20). Each of "those who were invited" refused the man who gave a great supper and invited many. It certainly was no fault of the one giving the supper. The invitation was clear, honest, and personal. No further preparations were required--everything was ready. It was provided at no cost for all who were invited. The invited ones were "with one accord" in their responses. The KJV says they began to make excuse "with one consent." The RSV and NIV says they made excuse "all alike." Their excuses were not the same, but their attitude was identical. The truth of the matter was, they did not want what the "man" had prepared. They did not perceive his "great supper" as important or a blessed event.

So it is with those who "refuse Him" who "speaks from heaven." The Son of God, risen "with healing in His wings" (Mal 4:2) has prepared a "great supper." It has been supplied at great cost, and is replete with things essential for Divine acceptance and blessing. The supper itself has been adapted to the ones invited to attend it. It is what they need, and will be delightful to them. It is satisfying, invigorating, and strengthening. The prophet Isaiah spoke of this great supper of salvation. "And in this mountain The LORD of hosts will make for all people A feast of choice pieces, A feast of wines on the lees, Of fat things full of marrow, Of well-refined wines on the lees" (Isa 25:6). Isaiah also spoke of the Divine invitation to this great feast. "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price" (Isa 55:1). These are prophecies of the "great salvation" that is now offered to the world. In the words of Scripture, "And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev 22:17). The invitation is an honest one, and everyone willing to come will be seated at the Master's table.

Partaking of this feast involves living in the Spirit, ingesting the Word of God, and setting your affection on things above, and not on things on the earth. Energetic efforts are demanded in a good fight of faith and laying hold on eternal life. The King does not call us to the adoption of a theological stance or organizational affiliation. Rather, He calls us to enjoy the provisions His atonement has obtained for us. There is "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 15:17). He offers intimacy with Himself, access to God, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:20; Eph 2:18; Acts 9:31). The Father and the Son will dwell in those who take advantage of this "great supper," and the Spirit will strengthen them within the inner man (John 14:21,23; Eph 3:16). The names of those accepting this invitation will be "written in heaven," and an inheritance will be reserved there for them (Luke 10:20; Heb 12:23; 1 Pet 1:4a). They themselves will be "kept by the power of God" (1 Pet 1:4b). This is a "great salvation," indeed!

Refusing Him that speaks is offering an excuse for NOT partaking of His bountiful feast of salvation. It is preferring the world, self-interests, and "other things" (Mark 4:19). Coming to the King's feast involves the abandonment of all competing interests. It requires self denial, the bearing of the cross daily, and the crucifixion of the flesh. Those refusing to do this "with one accord begin to make excuse." Such people are willing to settle for something less than a spiritual feast. They imagine that some snacks may be forwarded to their homes, so to speak, without them having to personally sit at the Master's table--but they are wrong, seriously wrong. There is no salvation without the unreserved acceptance of what has been prepared in Christ Jesus! Some have chosen a career over the "great supper" of salvation. Others have chosen pleasure, and some have even preferred domestic satisfaction to reconciliation to God. Some have elected to simply delay, not realizing the door to the supper will be closed at an undisclosed time. Those who delay to respond to the Lord's wooing do so to their own harm. Salvation makes no provision for slothfulness or disinterest--or delay!

The Spirit reasons with us on this matter. "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 . . . " In the beginning of this book, the Spirit reasoned similarly. "For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation" (Heb 2:2-3). Think! When Israel came to the border of the Canaan, they were offered the land. God promised to drive out the inhabitants through their efforts, even giving them cities they did not build, and vineyards they did not plant. But Israel refused to enter in! They rejected the Divine invitation! They did not escape! Shall it go differently with those who refuse to enter into the courts of the Lord now? If Jesus has provided us access to God, will He accept any excuse for not taking advantage of it? Provision has been made for the forgiveness of sin and cleansing from all unrighteousness. Will those who refuse to appropriate these benefits be excused? Indeed not!

All about us are churches, religious leaders, elders, deacons, and church members who are spurning the Divine invitation. They are not feasting on the riches of God's grace, but attempting to live on meager spiritual rations. They will not be excused. Christ has made no provision for small appetites, minuscule efforts, and half-hearted service. Those things are like the field, oxen, and wife that were offered as excuses to the man preparing the "great supper." I am alarmed that indifference is so common in our churches, that disinterest is so pervasive. The mediocre are too acceptable. The effort to mingle flesh and Spirit is altogether too common. Such things are all excuses for not participating in the Divine nature, a feast that Christ has prepared for all who will partake of it (2 Pet 1:4).

He has promised

" . . . whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven." If the greatness of the provision will not convince us to live in the Spirit, a solemn warning is sounded from heaven. All of the things men choose in preference to this "great salvation" are going to pass away. Christ is offering eternal life to us while we are in a temporal realm. He has been gracious enough to tell us plainly what is really apparent all about us. All of nature is in a state of demise! It makes little difference what segment of it you prefer, or how valuable it may appear, it is all going to pass away. Once God shook the Sinaitic peninsula at the giving of the Law. As it is written, "Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly" (Ex 19:18). Indeed, as the Psalmist declared, "Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs? Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob" (Psa 114:6). Of that time, Habakkuk sad, "The mountains saw You and trembled . . . " (Hab 3:10). The occasion was so awesome that even Moses said, "I am exceedingly afraid and trembling" (Heb 12:21). That was but a mild introduction to what is coming!

The one speaking from heaven says, "Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven" (Heb 12:26b). This is everything created--everything that had a beginning, or genesis. As Isaiah said, "Therefore I will shake the heavens, And the earth will move out of her place, In the wrath of the LORD of hosts And in the day of His fierce anger" (Isa 13:13). Joel also prophesied of this time. "The heavens and earth will shake" (Joel 3:16).

Haggai provides the specific prophecy referenced by our text. "For thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land'" (Hag 2:6). In the context of Haggai, this prophecy had to do with the Word becoming flesh and accomplishing His death. "and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,' says the LORD of hosts" (Hag 2:7). The Messiah would bring what honest and good hearts longed for. The temple He would build would be filled with the Lord's glory; i.e., the church, or body of the redeemed, would become the temple of God Himself--His dwelling place. That is what Habbakuk foretold. But in our text, the Spirit rises even higher, setting the prophesy in the context of "eternal purpose."

"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" (verse 27). Note, the things to be shaken are things that were "created" or made. Only eternal things, or "the things which cannot be shaken," will remain. The entirety of creation is like scaffolding that obscures the eternal kingdom. It has captured the attention of those who live in the flesh. They cannot see it is shakeable, and therefore embrace it as though it could not be moved. Those who refuse the Master's invitation attempt to stabilize what is passing away. They pour their hearts and souls into what cannot last. The tragedy is they are doing so at the expense of their soul. As the Lord Jesus said, "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt 16:26). Those arresting words were spoken in precisely the same state of affairs as our text. The very next words read, "For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works" (Matt 16:27).

Peter informs us this will occur when the Lord returns as a thief, to rob sinners of all their possessions. "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (2 Pet 3:10). This is nothing less than the removal of "things that are made." Everything people have chosen over salvation will be "removed!" Mind you, "salvation" is not limited to the remission of your sins and a new birth. Those are circumstances that BEGIN an association with the Almighty. In our text, "salvation" refers to "going on to perfection" (Heb 6:1), appropriating the provisions Jesus is presently ministering from the right hand of God. Those failing to do this, despite their profession, are refusing Him that speaks from heaven! They have refused Him because they preferred the realm that can, and will, be shaken.

Let Us Have Grace

"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." There are some significant differences in various versions of this text. I prefer this one. The RSV, NASB, and NIV translate "let us have grace" as "let us be grateful," "let us show gratitude," and "let us be thankful." Robertson offers a technical definition which may be offered in justification for such a weak rendering of the text. "Let us have grace (ecwmen carin). Present active volitive subjunctive of ecw, "Let us keep on having grace" as in 4:16, though it can mean "Let us keep on having gratitude" as in Lu 17:9." The passage, however, is too weighty for this to be the meaning of the text, i.e., that we are to be "grateful" or "thankful." While thankfulness is imperative [and unthankfulness is a cause for cursing (Rom 1:21)], it is never represented as imparting power to "serve God acceptably." The grace which we here receive, however, enables the believer to "serve God" in a way that is satisfactory to God Himself. It also induces "reverence and godly fear," or awe. That can, in my opinion, only be attributed to the grace of God, extended to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. How often this grace has been mentioned in Hebrews. Jesus, by "the grace of God," tasted death for every man (2:9). We are invited to come to the "throne of all grace" to "obtain mercy and find grace to help in the time of need" (4:16). Because of His role in salvation, the Holy Spirit is called "the Spirit of grace" (10:29). We are admonished to look diligently "lest any man fail of the grace of God" (12:15). The heart is said to be established "by grace" (13:9). The book concludes with "Grace be with you all. Amen." (13:25). The word "thanks" in any form is found but once in this book. "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (13:15). This is a response to God, and not a resource for believers.

To "have grace" is to appropriate or "obtain" it, coming to the Throne where it is dispensed. It involves not insulting the "Spirit of grace" by hardening your heart against Him. It is not failing, or falling beyond, the reach of that grace.

Do not fail to see the reason for having grace. It is that "we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." This is a most sobering declaration. It means that no service, regardless of frequency, fervency, or location, is acceptable to God if grace has not been obtained. If the individual does not come to the "throne of all grace," all work for God is rendered unacceptable! If the wooing of the Spirit, His direction, and what He is saying, is despised by the professed believer, his service is rejected! To put it more plainly, those who live at a distance from God will not be received by Him. To reject what He has provided is to place the stamp of disapproval on all of our works. This has startling ramifications. It explains why Christ will reject the exceptional works of some in "that day." As it is written, "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'"(Matt 7:22-23). And what made their impressive works "lawlessness" or "iniquity" (KJV)? They had not "obtained grace" to serve God "acceptably with reverence and godly fear." They had sought to serve God in the energy of the flesh, without Jesus, without the Spirit, and without grace. How lamentable that there is so much activity in this category in the professed church!

A Consuming Fire

"For our God is a consuming fire." Finally, the Spirit brings to our remembrance the time when God will be revealed. His nature is such that is devours everything and anyone unlike Himself. This is the Divine characteristic that required the Word become flesh, and lay down His life "a ransom for many." In His mercy, God has created a buffer zone in Christ Jesus, where present safety, strength, and acceptance may be realized. But ultimately, He will be revealed in "fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries" (Heb 10:27). Salvation prepares us for that day, making us, so to speak, non-combustible. By conforming us to "the image of His Son," God is preparing us to gloriously survive that day.

On Sinai, in consideration of the people, God forbade them to come close. He descended "like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel" (Ex 24:17). In that case, their distance preserved them, for, He said, "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live" (Ex 33:20). However, when the Lord comes again, "every eye shall see Him" (Rev 1:7). Then, the unsaved will seek to be at a distance from the Lord, but will not be able to hide (Rev 6:16). You see, we are now being prepared for that day. For those availing themselves of this "great salvation," that will be a time of blessing, glory, and exceeding joy. Then, their service for the Lord will be honored, and they will be rewarded. There, they will "dwell in the house of the Lord" forever, to "behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple" (Psa 27:4). For those who know their God, the future is bright with hope. We even now enjoy "everlasting consolation and good hope through grace."


We have dealt with a very glorious passage. The absolute superiority of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant has been declared. The First Covenant began with a regional shaking. The New Covenant will conclude with the shaking of al things. The Old Covenant produced and withdrawal from the presence of the Lord. The New Covenant brings perfect love which casts out fear, and ushers us into the most holy place. At the inauguration of the Old Covenant, 3,000 died (Ex 32:28). The commencement of the New Covenant was attended by 3,000 being brought to life in Christ (Acts 2:41). When the Old Covenant was given, the people asked that God speak to them no longer. The New Covenant brings a desire for God to speak: "Lord, evermore give us this bread" (John 6:34), "Then they that gladly received his word . . . " (Acts 2:41). WHEN THE Old Covenant was given, a consuming fire came upon Sinai (Ex 19:18). The announcement of the New Covenant was attended by fire that sanctified, and did not harm (Acts 2:3). At Sinai there was a frightening "tempest" (Heb 12:18). At Pentecost there was a "rushing mighty wind" that filled the house, but did not destroy it (Acts 2:2).

We now have a "better" Savior (Heb 1:4), a "better hope" (Heb 7:19), and a "better covenant" (Heb 7:22; 8:6). The sacrifice of purification is "better," having cleansed defiled humanity and readied heaven for us (Heb 9:23). Even now, those who embrace the New Covenant "have in heaven a better and an enduring substance" (Heb 10:34). We have a "better country" (Heb 11:16), look forward to a "better resurrection" (Heb 11:35), and have a "better thing" provided for us by God Himself (Heb 11:40). The "blood of sprinkling" to which we have come by grace, "speaketh better things than that of Abel" (Heb 12:24). How glorious is the New Covenant!

The intent of our text, however, is to persuade us that all of this means nothing if we do not appropriate what God has provided. If we choose to ignore these things, placing them in the back of our minds and hearts, they will soon "slip from us" (Heb 2:1). Now, see to it that you do not come short of this grace. Flee to Christ for refuge, and come to the throne of all grace. Everything has been provided for your safe arrival in heaven. A Mediator is at God's right hand to ensure you can obtain these provisions. The Holy Spirit has been given to strengthen, encourage, and illuminate you. A great cloud of witnesses surrounds you, attesting to the effectiveness of faith and the surety of Divine commitment. You have "come to" an amalgamation of spiritual benefits so great it staggers your imagination, yet so near they can have them for the asking. Run the race! Run it with endurance! Do not come short of the Grace of God. It will not be long, and we will be home!

Now, bring the text to your mind again. It is a glorious one, conducive to productive spiritual contemplation. Here it is from Darby's translation. "For ye have not come to {the mount} that might be touched and was all on fire, and to obscurity, and darkness, and tempest, 19 and trumpet's sound, and voice of words; which they that heard, excusing themselves, declined {the} word being addressed to them any more: 20 (for they were not able to bear what was enjoined: And if a beast should touch the mountain, it shall be stoned; 21 and, so fearful was the sight, Moses said, I am exceedingly afraid and full of trembling;) 22 but ye have come to mount Zion; and to {the} city of {the} living God, heavenly Jerusalem; and to myriads of angels, 23 the universal gathering; and to {the} assembly of the firstborn {who are} registered in heaven; and to God, judge of all; and to {the} spirits of just {men} made perfect; 24 and to Jesus, mediator of a new covenant; and to {the} blood of sprinkling, speaking better than Abel. 25 See that ye refuse not him that speaks. For if those did not escape who had refused him who uttered the oracles on earth, much more we who turn away from him {who does so} from heaven: 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now he has promised, saying, Yet once will *I* shake not only the earth, but also the heaven. 27 But this Yet once, signifies the removing of what is shaken, as being made, that what is not shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore let us, receiving a kingdom not to be shaken, have grace, by which let us serve God acceptably with reverence and fear. 29 For also our God {is} a consuming fire."

And now, may the Lord give you grace to apprehend the blessings on and benefits of Mount Zion, the city of the Living God!