5/02/17 Hebrews 12:22-29 “Our God is still a consuming fire! Part 2”
Hebrews 12:22 – But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
Sion – should be translated Zion (“a parched place”), generally taken to mean Jerusalem, or the hill upon which it was built, or the temple mount where God dwelt.
Psalm 48:1-2 – 1 A Song [and] Psalm for the sons of Korah. Great [is] the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, [in] the mountain of his holiness. 2 Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, [is] mount Zion, [on] the sides of the north, the city of the great King.
“But” – this is a contrast with the coming to the mountain of God (Mt Sinai). There is meant to be a difference between the approachability of each mountain. The Hebrews in the desert were so afraid to approach God that they even begged God to say no more, for fear that they might be struck down. That was the old covenant, but now we are under the new covenant, where we might enter because the preparation for approaching God has already been made by Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 10:20 – By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
Ephesians 2:14, 16 – 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us];
16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
They are come to Mount Zion; this is the place where God dwells, His Jerusalem in the heavens, with a vast seemingly innumerable number of angels.
Revelation 5:11-12 – 11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
Hebrew 12:23 – To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
general assembly – a festal (celebration as for a festival) gathering of the whole people to celebrate public games or other solemnities.
church – ekklesia (here it is the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth, or the assembly of faithful Christians already dead and received into heaven)
They have also come to the gathering of Christians (those of the first-born, Christ)
Romans 8:29 – For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. ….. throughout the earth to celebrate (as in a festival). Both general assembly and church of the firstborn could refer to Christians, yet it is possible that the general assembly actually refers to the angel component, who would be rejoicing because of the Christians who have been redeemed by the firstborn (that is, Christ).
Luke 15:10 – Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
They have also come to God the Judge of all, the One who will assess everything that all mankind has done, whether good or evil. All will die and all will be judged.
Hebrews 9:27 – And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.
Revelation 20:11-15 – 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
They have also come to the spirits of just men made perfect (righteous men made perfect, complete in Christ).
Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ:
Hebrews 7:25 – Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
These were made just (justified) and finally were perfected (completed) in Christ,
under both the old and new covenants. These would be that great cloud of witnesses watching those still running the race (fighting the battle) – Hebrews 12:1.
Hebrews 12:24 – And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than [that of] Abel.
mediator – one who intervenes between two, either in order to make or restore peace and friendship, or form a compact, or for ratifying a covenant; an arbitrator.
And they have also come to Jesus, the mediator (One who intervenes between enemies) of the new covenant (through which the old covenant was fulfilled).
Ephesians 2:16 – And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
Romans 5:10 – For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
And they had also come to the blood of the sprinkling – the better blood offering of Christ here.
Hebrews 9:14; 19-20 – 14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, 20 Saying, This [is] the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.
Hebrews 11:4 – By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
Abel spoke only for himself; Christ spoke for all mankind.
Genesis 4:10 – And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
Hebrews 12:25 – See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more [shall not] we [escape], if we turn away from him that [speaketh] from heaven:
refuse – to deprecate; to shun; to avoid; to excuse; of one excusing himself for not accepting a wedding invitation to a feast. Used of those invited to the wedding feast.
Luke 14:18 – And they all with one [consent] began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.
So, with these three previous verses in mind, do not refuse Him who speaks to you with such authority. Do not refuse His invitation! For how shall we escape if we neglect so great a witness of His salvation? How shall we escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven?
Hebrews 2:3 – How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him];
While this verse is often used to witness to the lost, its very context better supports not letting slip that which we already have in our grasp (Hebrews 2:1), that is, we should not neglect what we already have.
escape (Hebrews 2:3) – ekpheugo (escape from, out of) derived from pheugo (Hebrews 12:25).
escape Hebrews 12:25 – pheugo (escape; flee to safety)
Note the connection between “escape” in these two verses.
We shouldn’t find excuses to avoid the salvation that God desires for all mankind. (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4). Of course, calvinists then cry out that if God desires all be saved, and all are atoned for on the cross, then all would be saved, that is, universalism. However, that assumes the heresy of no free will choice for mankind, yet free will is taught consistently throughout the Bible. It is man’s free will that ultimately determines his destiny; it is what makes all mankind accountable at the judgment, and it is far from being universal because most will reject salvation!
Free will in salvation is not a work of salvation, either, for then it would add to the salvation offered by God which is already perfected and complete in Christ. Only that which can add to that full and free salvation may be counted as a work of salvation; free will can never do that!
Under the old covenant, the Hebrews pleaded with God to speak no more (Hebrews 12:19 – they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more), where “intreated” is that same word used negatively for “refuse” in Vs 25 above. Clearly a contrast is also intended between the “intreating” in the desert and telling the new covenant Christians not to refuse God (God’s invitation) this time. They that refused to hear God’s words in the desert didn’t escape; they didn’t put God’s words into action, and they eventually ended up falling in the desert; that is, they didn’t enter their Sabbath rest. The Hebrew Christians were now being told to not follow that same example which saw the Hebrews in the desert fail to enter their rest.
Hebrews 3:8-11 – 8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. 10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in [their] heart; and they have not known my ways. 11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
For they heard these words as on earth. Even though it was still God who spoke, it was Moses from whom they heard these words. Another way of looking at this is that in the desert it applied to their earthly rest (Canaan), yet now it applies to our heavenly rest, our Sabbath rest. The One who speaks (has spoken) this time is from heaven, the man from heaven (Christ) who overcame the fall of the first man who was of earth (Adam).
1 Corinthians 15:47 – The first man [is] of the earth, earthy: the second man [is] the Lord from heaven.
Also note Isaiah 55:11 – So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it.
if we turn away from him – apostrepho (to turn away; to turn back; to turn away from, to desert) Thus we get the word “apostrophe”. apostrepho could be used of the putting of the sword back into the scabbard signifying the battle was over. That is, they were turning away from the battle which they had already begun to fight. How may we escape if we turn away from the words spoken by the One in heaven whose word is law.
Hebrews 12:26 – Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
It was God’s voice that shook the earth in the desert, but now He has promised that He will shake the earth once more, yet not just the earth but also heaven itself.
Haggai 2:6-7 – 6 For thus saith the Lord of hosts; Yet once, it [is] a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry [land]; 7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts.
It is clear that this is an end-times prophecy.
Luke 21:25-27 – 25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
This will usher in the new heaven and the new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.
2 Peter 3:10-13 – 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 [Seeing] then [that] all these things shall be dissolved, what manner [of persons] ought ye to be in [all] holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
This appears to be a statement of the power of God, that He will not only shake the earth (the mountain near which they were encamped – a fairly localised event, it seems) but next time it will be the whole earth and the heavens as well, that is, the whole universe, all creation, appears to be involved this next time! It will apparently be a completely new creation; the old is dissolved in order to make way for the new, just as as the old covenant had be removed (annulled) to make room for the new covenant.
Hebrews 8:13 – In that he saith, A new [covenant], he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old [is] ready to vanish away.
Hebrews 12:27 – And this [word], Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
removing – metathesis (translate-Hebrews 11:5; transfer; change-Hebrews 7:12)
The idea is that the eternal kingdom of God, which already exists, cannot be shaken, and therefore will remain, while everything else which is not of that kingdom (the temporal world) will be shaken and thus removed (or translated; changed). In a way, this is like a sorting out of the eternal from the temporal.
2 Corinthians 4:18; 5:1-2 – 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal.
1 For we know that if our earthly house of [this] tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
The context seems to relate, not only to heaven and earth, but to the idea of Christians being purified, such that anything that is perishable in our lives will be burnt up (shaken and removed) but that which is born again of the incorruptible (cannot be shaken) will live for ever.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 – 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
1 Peter 1:18-19; 23 – 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
All things were created from things which do not appear, yet that same creation (corrupted by sin) will be destroyed as by fire to make way for the eternal and the incorruptible, which as yet is unseen except by faith.
Hebrews 11:3 – Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
What we see will be shaken and removed one day, but that which is eternal, that which we may see only by faith, will remain for ever.
2 Corinthians 5:7 – (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)
Therefore, we should strive to lay up for ourselves things which cannot be shaken nor removed.
Matthew 6:19-21 – 19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Hebrews 12:28 – Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
Wherefore we who are redeemed by the blood (born again of incorruption) are receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved (overthrown, possibly by force).
grace – charis (grace; here it would mean that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech)
reverence – a sense of shame or honour; modesty; bashfulness; reverence; regard for others; respect. Translated “shamefacedness” in 1 Timothy 2:9
godly fear – caution; circumspection; discretion. Translated “feared” in Hebrews 5:7.
Therefore let us act in such a way that we give that which affords joy, pleasure, delight and sweetness in serving God, and thus serve Him acceptably with reverence (a sense of shame; reverence; great respect) and godly fear (that is, fear of God for who He is). God is far beyond any authority on earth, and should be treated as such, yet rarely is given His rightful service in today’s world, even in churches that claim to be worshipping Him.
Psalm 2:11-12 – 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish [from] the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed [are] all they that put their trust in him.
Hebrews 12:29 – For our God [is] a consuming fire.
For you must keep in mind always, that God never changes: Malachi 3:6a – For I [am] the Lord, I change not. If God is a consuming fire on Mt Sinai, then He will still be a consuming fire now. The old covenant might be gone and the new covenant now come in with its apparently more user-friendly approach. But, however user-friendly God might appear to Christians now, He has not changed, has never changed, will never change! Note Hebrews 13:8 – Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. a verse we’re heading toward next week.
Why do churches seem to be saying all too often that God will accept all who come along? Maybe He will, but only under His conditions, on His terms! Those conditions relate to having godly sorrow at one’s sin, and then repenting of such, which then leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10). The steps cannot be circumvented. There is no short cut to salvation. Either you do as God says, or you go to hell for eternity!
But, it’s easier to become a Christian today! God loves everyone, haven’t you heard?
People like Rick Warren have such a user-friendly gospel; note the following:
In the video that accompanies the "40 Days of Purpose", Warren leads his listeners in prayer at the end of the first session. The prayer goes like this:
Dear God, I want to know your purpose for my life. I don't want to base the rest of my life on wrong things. I want to take the first step in preparing for eternity by getting to know you. Jesus Christ, I don't understand how but as much as I know how I want to open up my life to you. Make yourself real to me. And use this series in my life to help me know what you made me for.
Warren goes on to say:
Now if you've just prayed that prayer for the very first time I want to congratulate you. You've just become a part of the family of God.
But when the world is shaken and fire consumes everything burnable in our lives, it’s only what’s left, if any, that can worship God in heaven for all eternity!
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