The following blog post is authored by D. Jay Martin, PFC Pastor
Our Current Sermon Series: Further Up & Further In
Further Up & Further In: Up the Mountain
1 Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. 3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.
7 So Moses returned from the mountain and called together the elders of the people and told them everything the Lord had commanded him.
8 And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” So, Moses brought the people’s answer back to the Lord.
9 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud, Moses, so the people themselves can hear me when I speak with you. Then they will always trust you.” Moses told the Lord what the people had said.
10 Then the Lord told Moses, “Go down and prepare the people for my arrival. Consecrate them today and tomorrow and have them wash their clothing.
11 Be sure they are ready on the third day, for on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai as all the people watch.
12 Mark off a boundary all around the mountain. Warn the people, ‘Be careful! Do not go up on the mountain or even touch its boundaries. Anyone who touches the mountain will certainly be put to death.
13 No hand may touch the person or animal that crosses the boundary; instead, stone them or shoot them with arrows. They must be put to death.’ However, when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, then the people may go up on the mountain.”
14 So Moses went down to the people. He consecrated them for worship, and they washed their clothes.
15 He told them, “Get ready for the third day, and until then abstain from having sexual intercourse.”
16 On the morning of the third day, thunder roared, and lightning flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled.
17 Moses led them out from the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.
18 All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently.
19 As the blast of the ram’s horn grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God thundered his reply.
20 The Lord came down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So, Moses climbed the mountain.
21 Then the Lord told Moses, “Go back down and warn the people not to break through the boundaries to see the Lord, or they will die.
22 Even the priests who regularly come near to the Lord must purify themselves so that the Lord does not break out and destroy them.”
18 When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.
19 And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!”
20 “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!”
21 As the people stood in the distance, Moses approached the dark cloud where God was.
23 “But when you heard the voice from the heart of the darkness, while the mountain was blazing with fire, all your tribal leaders and elders came to me.
24 They said, ‘Look, the Lord our God has shown us his glory and greatness, and we have heard his voice from the heart of the fire. Today we have seen that God can speak to us humans, and yet we live!
25 But now, why should we risk death again? If the Lord our God speaks to us again, we will certainly die and be consumed by this awesome fire.
26 Can any living thing hear the voice of the living God from the heart of the fire as we did and yet survive?
27 Go yourself and listen to what the Lord our God says. Then come and tell us everything he tells you, and we will listen and obey.’
18 You have not come to a physical mountain, to a place of flaming fire, darkness, gloom, and whirlwind, as the Israelites did at Mount Sinai.
19 For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking.
20 They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”
21 Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.”
22 No, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering.
23 You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect.
24 You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel.
25 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! 26 When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” 27 This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain. 28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire.
George Guthrie from The NIV Application Commentary on Hebrews:
“The sense of terror at Sinai, a place of noise and macabre images, flashes like lightning against a black storm cloud…Note further that the images in verses 12-21 are highly impersonal. Here we have fire, storm, gloom, warning, and a ‘disembodied’ voice. Everything about this picture of Sinai says, ‘Stay away! Don’t come any closer!’…By contrast, Mount Zion depicts utter joy and excitement. The gathering of the angels, the assembly of the firstborn, and the spirits of those who have gone on to be with the Lord resemble the revelry of a national holiday…Moreover, mark how utterly personal and relational the images of verses 22-24 are! We have come to God our vindicator, angels, other believers, and our Lord Jesus. In contrast to the Sinai portrait, everything about Zion says, ‘Come! Belong here! Be part of this community! There is no better place to be.'”
Further Up! Further In!