V2222But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,. The word “but” indicates that what now follows, is in contrast with what is said previously. To the Hebrews it is demonstrated that they haven’t come to the mountain of Sinai with its accompanying horrors. Now it is demonstrated to them what they actually have come to. This ‘have come to’ indicates the sphere of the relation we are entering. As the sphere at Sinai was characterized by fear and trembling, the sphere at the “Mount Zion” is one of grace and peace, of inviting love and the absence of every fear (1Jn 4:1818There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.). He who has once entered this sphere and experienced its significance can never ever be tempted anymore to return to Judaism, the old system of the threatening Sinai.
In the millennial kingdom of peace the literal Mount Zion is the place of God’s rest and the seat of the royal power of the Messiah. But the Hebrews have now already come to that mountain. That means that here it is not about the earthly mountain, but it is about the subject of which this mountain is the symbol, namely of grace and heaven. The Mount Zion represents the new covenant with all its aspects: the new kingdom, the new priesthood, the new worship service, the new dwelling place, the new resting place.
The new priesthood is related to Zadok (2Sam 8:1717Zadok the son of Ahitub and Ahimelech the son of Abiathar [were] priests, and Seraiah [was] secretary.; Eze 40:4646but the chamber which faces toward the north is for the priests who keep charge of the altar. These are the sons of Zadok, who from the sons of Levi come near to the LORD to minister to Him.”), a priest from the line of Eleazar, the third son of Aaron. This indicates the priesthood of the resurrected Christ. The number three refers to the third day as the day of the resurrection. The new kingship is also related to Christ, the great Son of David, who was the king after God’s heart (Psa 132:11-1411The LORD has sworn to David
A truth from which He will not turn back:
“Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne.
12“If your sons will keep My covenant
And My testimony which I will teach them,
Their sons also shall sit upon your throne forever.”
13For the LORD has chosen Zion;
He has desired it for His habitation.
14“This is My resting place forever;
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
). Christ is the true King-Priest (Zec 6:1313Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the LORD, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.”‘). He is the true center of all blessing both in the millennial kingdom of peace in future and now already in spirit for everyone who is on the way to that wonderful situation.
After Mount Zion the writer presents more impressive matters that have come within reach of the believing Hebrews. But faith is necessary to see those. When faith sees them, they will be of great encouragement for the road they still had to go. The writer explains to the Hebrews what they had also come to, so were brought within the sphere of, “the city of the living God”, that is “the heavenly Jerusalem”. They had turned their back on the earthly Jerusalem, but they entered the heavenly Jerusalem by faith.
Abraham and other Old Testament believers had seen the city from afar and that encouraged them (Heb 11:10,1610for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.16But as it is, they desire a better [country], that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.). The privilege that the Hebrews had was beyond that: they had already come that far. They knew its sphere and enjoyed the privilege of being in the presence of the living God. That city is the center of the government over the earth that is not openly being exercised yet, but will definitely become reality. In that city death has no entrance, what actually will be the case in the earthly Jerusalem and also in the millennial kingdom of peace.
The Hebrews are physically still on earth. But when they approach the city in spirit, they discover that there are inhabitants in the heavenly Jerusalem. There, first of all, are “myriads of angels”. When you imagine yourself entering the heavenly Jerusalem from outside, you see the angels first. They form the external circle of the inhabitants of the city, in order to protect them as it were. That is also appropriate for the task they have towards the believers on earth to whom they have been given to serve (Heb 1:1414Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?).
V2323to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of [the] righteous made perfect,. The further description, “the general assembly”, has the meaning of a joyful assembly. When the law was given at Mount Sinai, the angels also played a role (Acts 7:5353you who received the law as ordained by angels, and [yet] did not keep it.”). Through their mediation the law was given. As you have seen, there was not directly anything joyful about that, but the angels are rejoicing in the sphere of grace (cf. Lk 2:13-1413And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
After the external circle our attention is drawn to the internal circle. In the midst of the multitude of angels we see the people of God, here called “the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven”. Those who had no place on earth, are at home there. On earth their names meant nothing. They were erased from the worldly and religious registers, but that didn’t matter to them. It was much more important that their names were enrolled in heaven. That means that they are indelible and that they are familiar to God; that they are known by Him (Lk 10:2020Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”; Phil 4:33Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in [the cause of] the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.; Rev 3:55He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.; 21:2727and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.).
The word ‘assembly’ is found in this letter only here. It has the sense of the family of God. The further description ‘firstborn’ indicates the fact of sonship and heirship. This is in connection with the fact that they are called brethren of Christ (Heb 2:1111For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one [Father]; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,). As firstborn the Hebrews were entitled to the eternal inheritance; they were fellow heirs of Christ, the Firstborn (Heb 1:66And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.”).
Then we see there “God, the Judge of all”. All heavenly citizens are there on the ground of God’s justice. They have suffered much injustice, but they have trusted that the Judge of the whole earth will do justice (Gen 18:2525Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are [treated] alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”). Also the Lord Jesus has entrusted “[Himself] to Him Who judges righteously” (1Pet 2:2323and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting [Himself] to Him who judges righteously;). Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be satisfied, because God is the Judge (Mt 5:66“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.).
The “spirits of [the] righteous made perfect” are the first ones who experience that. These are the Old Testament believers who are asleep and who are now having a spiritual existence and who will, at the resurrection, be made perfect. They have finished the walk of faith and are only waiting for the glory. But they now already have their resting place and part in heaven.
V2424and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than [the blood] of Abel.. Then we see “Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant”. This new covenant will be established with Israel, but the spiritual blessings of the new covenant are now already enjoyed by all who belong to God’s people. What would the future world be worth, both in heaven and on earth, without Him? He is the Mediator between the holy God and the sinful man.
He has made the way for the implementation of the new covenant and certainly through His blood. In that way forgiveness became a part of each who belongs to the new covenant and to whom the blessing of the millennial kingdom of peace is surely guaranteed. The first blood that was shed, was the blood of the righteous Abel (Mt 23:3535so that upon you may fall [the guilt of] all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.). However, that blood could not serve as a restoration for the blessings that were lost. On the contrary, a cry for vengeance came out of it (Gen 4:1010He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.).
The blood of Christ, however, is blood that speaks a better language, which is the language of forgiveness, because it is the sacrifice blood. It is wonderful that the description of all wonderful things to which the believers have come under the new covenant concludes with what forms the basis: the blood of Christ. In that way also the everlasting duration of the new covenant is established.
V2525See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned [them] on earth, much less [will] we [escape] who turn away from Him who [warns] from heaven.. After he has presented these glories, which are in connection with the new order, the writer now again continues with some concluding exhortations. God had spoken (Heb 1:11God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,) and is still speaking, just like the blood does. What a foolishness would that be to reject this God. It was already a foolish thing to do to reject God when He spoke on earth. He had given His instructions in the law and had presented them the way to live and to be blessed. But man did not want to listen.
Ever since the Holy Spirit has come, God speaks from heaven. To reject Him means to reject grace. This is what Stephen accused the unbelieving people of and therefore the people became furious and stoned him (Acts 7:51-5951“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.52Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become;53you who received the law as ordained by angels, and [yet] did not keep it.”54Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they [began] gnashing their teeth at him.55But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;56and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”57But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse.58When they had driven him out of the city, they [began] stoning [him]; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.59They went on stoning Stephen as he called on [the Lord] and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”). In this way they rejected God’s last offer of grace and sealed their own rejection.
V2626And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.”. God’s speaking by giving the law with which the old covenant was initiated, was accompanied by a quaking earth (Exo 19:1818Now Mount Sinai [was] all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently.). Also the establishment of the new covenant will be accompanied by a shaking earth, but the shaking of heaven will be added to that. God had announced it like that at the end of the Old Testament (Hag 2:77I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts.). The introduction of the millennial kingdom of peace will be preceded by terrible earthquakes during the great tribulation (Rev 6:1212I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth [made] of hair, and the whole moon became like blood;) and at the return of Christ there will be signs in heaven (Mt 24:2929“But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.).
V2727This [expression], “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.. That will result in “the removing of those things which can be shaken”, “things” that are made and that are temporal. The old is being removed and something new, which cannot be shaken, will replace it. Judaism belongs to the old order and shall therefore disappear. The church belongs to the new order and will remain. This is how everything shall remain that God has said (1Pet 1:2525But the word of the Lord endures forever.” And this is the word which was preached to you.), just like everyone, who has accepted His Word, will remain (1Jn 2:1717The world is passing away, and [also] its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.).
V2828Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;. The unshakable kingdom that the Son will establish, will be received by Him from God’s hands (Dan 7:1313“I kept looking in the night visions,
And behold, with the clouds of heaven
One like a Son of Man was coming,
And He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
; Psa 2:88‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the [very] ends of the earth as Your possession.
) and we will receive it from Him and with Him (Lk 12:3232Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.; 22:2929and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you. This kingdom remains to eternity (Rev 22:55And there will no longer be [any] night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.) and it is based on pure grace that we may receive it.
We must hold on to that grace, for otherwise we will slide away. At the same time grace provides us with a clear motive to serve God. Grace is the right mind therefore. Therein He finds His pleasure. The believer will serve Him “with reverence and awe”, for He is an awesome and holy God. This is not an intention to terrify you, but to fill you with the right reverence.
V2929for our God is a consuming fire.. People who miss this reverence are to be aware that God is “a consuming fire”. The fire consumes everything that is not in accordance with God. This is a serious word to everyone who is in danger to drop out and return to a formality service.
Now read Hebrews12:22-29 again.
Reflection: Explore once again what you are come to, which is where you belong to and thank the Lord for that company and those unchangeable truths.