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From Sinai to Zion

Have you ever stood at the bottom of a mountain and looked up? The giant mass of rock and ice towers above you, blocking the sky from your view and making you feel as if you were the least important creature on earth. The mountain peak is not even visible as a massive cliff soars above your head, its sheer side polished and shining as if it were on fire. You wish to reach the top, but your own insignificance overwhelms you, dwarfed by a seemingly unattainable goal.


Why start like this? Well, I was studying in Hebrews chapter 12, where the writer pauses from his admonitions to the Hebrews in order to reflect on a bit of history.


The Israelites stood beneath such a mountain as the one I’ve described above. Mount Sinai: the place where God descended in holiness and power to be with His people, to establish the covenant, to give them the Law. His voice was terrible in its awesomeness, and the people begged not to hear it. The mountain itself shook, and smoked, and whomever touched the mountain, be it man or beast, was put to death. [1]

This is our God: righteous and holy beyond our imaginations.


Have you ever stood at the peak of a mountain top and looked out? The ground drops away below you and the world spreads out at your feet. The wind whips your hair and you can almost reach up and touch the sky. You’ve reached the top of the mountain, but you don’t stand there and boast your pride to the rest of the lower world. Remember, they can’t even see you, for you’re as small as you were at the base of the mountain. Looking around you can feel your insignificance, yes. But more than that, there’s a sense of freedom, and at the same time, a sense of overwhelming praise and awe you experience toward the Creator, whether you realize it or not.


But now, the writer of Hebrews reminds us, we have a new covenant, a new mountain to look to: “Mount Zion, and the city of the Living God.”  We are welcomed to this mountain freely, and we can come to it without fear.[2] What changed?

God came down to us on the first mountain to establish the law, the holy standards that make Him God and the standards that separate us from Him in our inability to live up to them.

Jesus the Christ, this same God, stands on the second mountain, lifting us up to Him, having fulfilled the law. Having perfected us and allowed us to put on Himself and His holiness and enter in. Here is a place of everlasting joy and freedom. Here is our home.

This is our God: merciful and love itself.


Long ago, our author remembers, when Abel was murdered, his blood cried out from the ground for “Justice!” The whole world is stained in innocent blood that joins in this cry. And every one of us is guilty of adding to the sin that pollutes human history. God deserves the justice of taking us as payment for our rebellion and destruction.

But we don’t go to the old mountain any longer. There is another blood crying out – but with a different message. The blood of Jesus cries for “Mercy! I have payed the debt they owe! Fulfilled the cost! Justice is complete. Have mercy on this person, my child.”[3]

The cries against us die away as the Father recognizes the form of His Son covering us, and He welcomes us as His child into Mount Zion and life eternal.


This story is true, for it is told by God Himself, in His book, the Bible. But the story isn’t over yet.

Jesus, the mediator, stands by every person, in every life and situation, offering His gift of Salvation. He is seeking to know you.

Here then is a warning: Do not refuse Jesus now. Don’t put Him off.

Back at Mount Sinai, the people had no way to escape God as He stood before them and spoke on earth. How then will you be able to escape God when He speaks from Heaven?

At Mount Sinai, His voice shook the earth, but He has told us, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but the heavens as well.” He will then remove the things that are shaken, and only the Kingdom that cannot be moved will remain.[4]

This has not happened yet. Right now is still the time of grace as God seeks those who do not know Him. During this time we are to serve God with reverence and godly fear, “for our God is a consuming fire.”[5] Nonetheless the time is coming when justice will fall on those un-covered by Christ. When Heaven and earth will shake and Jesus establishes forever His eternal Kingdom, reigning from Mount Zion.


Are you ready for Him?

[1] Hebrews 12:18-21

[2] Hebrews 12:22-23

[3] Hebrews 12:24

[4] Hebrews 12:25-27

[5] Hebrews 12:28

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