“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.”
Hebrews 12:18-24 NKJV
A tale of two mountains
For so many, God is this distant and frightful figure noone has a desire to encounter. He is viewed as a far off, disconnected, and more likely to bring judgement rather than love. Frequently when people think of the Old Testament, there is a sense that God is just waiting to hit people with lightening bolts when they sin.
As I read again in the twelfth chapter of Hebrews, I was reminded of how those who were separated from God at the foot of Mount Sinai, looked up in great fear. It was not a reverential fear, but a fear that drives one to hate, to seek to avoid, keeping the Lord at a distance. Then there was Mount Zion, the kingdom God, accessible.
It was like seeing a comparison of two mountains: Mount Sinai, unapproachable, except by Moses, and Mount Zion approachable by all who have called upon the name of the Lord.
At the bottom of the first, death awaits for anyone who dares to climb, but eternal life for those who accept the invitation to salvation.
The first mountain engenders fear in people, and no desire to accept any invitation. When I have approached people with a Gospel message, I can see the expression change, as fear enters, followed frequently by anger and rage. They have come to perceive God as evil, a destroyer of souls rather than a Savior.
All too often it is the behavior of believers that have helped foster the perceptions that have lead to the rejection of the Gospel.
In light of that perception of God, the ministry of Jesus is made all the more glorious. Instead of fear, we who have accepted the invitation, approach the Lord with favor, approaching Mount Zion and worshipping the living God, having had our way made clear by the shed blood of Jesus, who came and died for our sins, making full payment of our debt.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
John 1:1-5 NKJV
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
John 1:14 NKJV
God came down from the mountain, to tabernacle with humanity, living humbly, enduring every temptation and slight, yet living sinlessly. Those that followed Him were given the ministry of reconciliation as God sought man, to be with him, like God sought Adam in the cool of the day, even after he had fallen into sin.
That is the true nature of God. He is not distant and uncaring, not a cosmic killjoy looking to zap you for your sin, but One who seeks you, desires to save, to forgive you.
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:6-8 NKJV
Once we are saved, we are commissioned to be ambassadors, people dedicated to sharing the true nature of God. Where God is loving we are called to love, where He is just we are called to warn of His justice, and His necessity to judge sin. We must bring the message of the Gospel with balance, sharing the full extant of God’s love and justice, that people find the grace of God irresistible.
“As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;”
Romans 3:10 NKJV
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
Romans 3:23 NKJV
We go forth and tell the story of what Jesus has done in our lives, and show the transformation brought by the Holy Spirit. We, as His representatives, demonstrate approachability of the Lord, as people who have been to Mount Zion, and been embraced by the living God.
Unlike Moses, on whom the glory of God shown, and later faded away, we walk daily with the etrnal weight of glory, building daily as we pray, read the Scriptures and fellowship.
“For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious. Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away.”
II Corinthians 3:10-13 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, let us go out with the glory of God showing, let us demonstrate His love, attracting others to God. We know that He is full of love, and it is on us to represent Him as people made just, being made perfect, or mature, having been saved from sin and a destiny in hell, having ascended Mount Zion and fellowshipped with God.
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Exodus 34:6-7 (ESV) 6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Psalms 86:15 (ESV) But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.