Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 21 2020 - Hebrews 12:14-29 – An unshakable kingdom

When God rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, he brought them to meet with himself at Mount Sinai. It was an uncomfortable meeting. The mountain was burning with fire and covered with smoke. No one was allowed to approach the mountain except Moses and a few others; anyone straying onto it – even an animal – was to be stoned to death.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews reminds us that God has saved us through the Lord Jesus Christ that we also might be brought to meet with him. But this is a very different meeting. We have not been brought to Mount Sinai but "to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel" (Hebrews 12:22-24).

The blood of Abel cried out for vengeance. God heard that cry and Cain became a marked man, living out his life under the lonely burden of God’s judgment. The blood of Jesus also cries out to God and its voice also is heard. Jesus' blood cries out “Father, forgive them!” – it pleads not for vengeance but for forgiveness, even the forgiveness of those who nailed him to the cross. Through this shed blood our sins are forgiven and we are can join the ranks of the "righteous made perfect." Because of Christ’s shed blood we are marked men and women – marked as children of the living God, called to live out our lives in the presence and under the blessing of God.

Through the death of Christ on our behalf and his risen intercession we are brought into the welcome embrace of God. We have been brought before the judge of all the earth, not to the accompaniment of earthquake and loud thunder, but to the songs of angels. We are able to stand before him without being consumed because of "the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel."

We have received a very different reception from that of the Israelites at Sinai; but we need to remember that God has not changed. He who once shook Mount Sinai will one day shake both heaven and earth. The whole of the created order will be shaken and transformed at the coming of its creator and judge. We can be confident and thankful that even in that day we shall stand secure, for in Jesus Christ "we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken" (12:28) – we stand on solid ground and unshakable promises. Yet we need also to remember that "our God is a consuming fire" (12:29 quoting Deuteronomy 4:24). We can stand confidently in God's presence as his much loved and dearly bought children, nevertheless, along with the angels we come before him in worship "with reverence and awe."

Father God, teach us to come before you with the excited joy of children and yet with reverence and awe, remembering that you indeed are God. We give you thanks that in the Lord Jesus we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. By your Spirit, help us so to live as members of your kingdom that we may draw others to trust in your unshakable promises. May we, together with them and with angels, archangels and all the company of heaven, rejoice in the blessing of living in your presence.

Peter Misselbrook