All the book of Hebrews is so packed with insight and revelation, that it would take months of posts to unpack it all. This chapter is not an exception. But for today, the last half of the chapter forms an interesting chiastic structure:
1a) Heb 12:18, The mountain which was shaken, which can be seen + touched/ burned with fire;
1b) Heb 12:19-20, The voice of God which could not be endured;
1c) Heb 12:21, Moses the mediator of the old covenant who feared God with trembling;
central axis) Heb 12:22-23, Mount Zion is the city of the living God + heavenly Jerusalem where abides an innumerable company of angels + general assembly + church of the firstborn registered in heaven + God the Judge of all + spirits of just men made perfect;
2c) Heb 12:24, Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant /blood that speaks better things than that of Abel;
2b) Heb 12:25, See that you do not refuse Him who speaks, for we shall not escape;
2a) Heb 12:26-29, The Kingdom which cannot be shaken, seen, or touched / God a consuming fire:
–> 1a) Heb 12:26a, Whose voice then shook the earth;
–> 1b) Heb 12:26b, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven;”
–> central axis) Heb 12:27 “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those made things that are being shaken, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain;
–> 2b) Heb 12:28a, Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken;
–> 2a) Heb 12:28b-29, Grace by which we serve God acceptably w/ reverence + godly fear/ God a consuming fire.
The history of God descending onto Mt Sinai, which shook and burned with fire as a result, and the people’s terror at hearing the glorious voice of God with their own ears is recorded in Exo 19-20. This is the only place in Scripture where I am aware, where the whole assembly of believers heard the audible voice of God with their physical ears. The word that God spoke, was the list of the Ten Commandments, which Moses called The Covenant. God had more to speak – the explanation of the Ten Commandments, and what it means to keep them – but the people could not endure the audible voice of God any longer. So the people asked Moses to hear the voice of God for them, and to relate to them all that He said. Moses was 40 days and nights on the mountain alone, hearing the voice of God and writing down all that He said, so that His words could be relayed to the people. The result of his dictation is the five books of Moses, the Torah.
The words of God have not passed away, for today, in the new covenant, we must see that we do not refuse Him who speaks. Today, in the new covenant, when we hear His voice, we must see that we do not harden our hearts. For if they did not escape who heard the voice of God, yet refused it, in the covenant which was merely the shadow cast, we will likewise not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven (vs. 25).
The difference between old and new is not vast, for the old is the shadow cast by the new. The new is the substance, so those pillars of the old are of necessity likewise found in the new. There is the unchangeable word of God (Psa 89:34), which abides forever, even beyond the heavens and the earth (Psa 119:89, Mat 5:18). There is the expectation of the obedience of God’s people in return. There is the mediator of the covenant; the love of God for His people; the husband and wife, the Bridegroom and bride. There is the priesthood, the High Priest, and the blood sacrifice. But in the new, the spirits of just men are made perfect, something the old could never do, as the author of Hebrews has been expounding.
The relationship we have with God is a relationship of reciprocal love. But fear has its place, even in a relationship of reciprocal love. For I loved my parents and my parents loved me, and sacrificed for me from that love, in ways I only began to understand when I became a parent myself. Yet there were many times when I refrained from doing something foolish, because I feared my Dad’s displeasure. Yes, my Dad who loved me gave me commandments to obey for my good always. And so it with us and our good heavenly Father who loves us, who has given us commandments to obey for our good always. Therefore we do not refuse Him who speaks, or reject His commandments simply because He is good and has forgiven us our trespasses against Him. But how much more we obey Him, now that our spirits have been made perfect to serve the living God. ♥