Sunday, 28 April 2019
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, Hebrews 12:22
The author now says, “But.” This is to contrast what has been said. He has been speaking of God’s revelation of Himself to the people while upon Mount Sinai. The people were told to not come near the mountain lest they die. They were told that whoever who did come near was not to even be touched, but was to be stoned or shot with arrows, signifying being completely rejected by the congregation. There was fire, tempest, the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words which terrified the people, and which brought fear and trembling to Moses. All of that is now contrasted with the word, “But.”
Instead of this revelation of Himself at Mount Sinai, the author says, “you have come to Mount Zion.” In this, the mountain represents the government. At Sinai, the government of the Law of Moses was given. At Mount Zion, the government of the New Covenant was given. The contrast is law verses grace. In one, there was fear. In the other, there is fellowship. In one, there is the burning leading to death. In the other, there is a burning for purification (see 1 Corinthians 3:11-15). These, and all other things, are set in contrast to one another. It demonstrates the infinite superiority of the New Covenant over the Old.
The author continues with, “and to the city of the living God.” Not only is Mount Sinai representative of government, but it is a government which issues from a city. Mount Sinai was a type of government – meaning the law – that issued from the Lord, through Moses, and which the people were kept separate from. There was the Sovereign ruling from afar, in blackness and tempest, and which sent forth fear and death. Mount Zion is also a city, a place where people dwell, and in which the people participate – even in “the living God.” As He has sealed His people and given them life, so life issues forth from Him eternally.
Though He is and always has been “the living God,” to the people under the law, He was the God of death, because through the law comes the knowledge of sin, and through sin comes death. Therefore, He was completely separate from the people in this regard. However, for those who come to Mount Zion, they are not under law, but are under grace (Romans 6:14, 15). Therefore, they are not having sin imputed to them (2 Corinthians 5:19). The contrast is set between what was in Moses, and what is now in Christ.
Next, the author says, “the heavenly Jerusalem.” This is an important addition because in Galatians 4 the earthly Jerusalem is equated directly to Mount Sinai.
“Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, 24 which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar— 25 for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children— 26 but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.” Galatians 4:22-26
The earthly is but a mere shadow of the heavenly. Whereas the earthly was under the law and in bondage, the heavenly is founded upon GRACE and it is where there is freedom.
From there, the author finishes the verse with, “to an innumerable company of angels.” The Hebrew reads murias. It specifically means “ten thousand,” but it is given to represent an indefinite number which is too large to count.
The Greek is highly debated, but due to the structure of the verses, it is likely that the comma should go after the word “company.” Thus, it would read, “to an innumerable company, of angels…” (connected to the next verse). To get a full view of this would take reading many commentaries of great commentators of the past. Suffice it to says that unlike Mount Sinai where the Lord sat alone upon the Mountain issuing forth directives through Moses, here, there are innumerable “messengers,” as the Greek word translated as “angels” means. There is nothing dark and shadowy, but only the light of the radiance of God which illuminates the city, and in which the word of God goes forth like water to a dry and barren land to quench the eternal thirst of God’s people.
Life application: Paul says in Romans –
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2
The law – even from the day it was given – was a reminder of death and the impossibility of pleasing God by observing it, simply because no one can fully live by it. And so death reigned from the time that the law was introduced. Again, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:6, “…who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
The “letter” is the law and it brought forth death, but the Spirit – given by Christ – gives life. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The glory of what is found in Christ, and which lies ahead for His redeemed, is truly a surpassing glory. It is a glory that we simply cannot even imagine at this time. How wonderful it will be!
Lord, what a wonderful and precious assurance You have given us through the Person of Jesus. Now, because of Him, we can have everlasting fellowship with You without fear. Instead, only eternal joy awaits us as we join the heavenly choir in singing praises to You! Help us to keep our eyes on this wonderful promise that we might not falter in the present. Amen!