Epistle to the Hebrews (12:18-21)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

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.For they heard an awesome trumpet blast and a voice so terrible that they begged God to stop speaking. They staggered back under God’s command: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.”Moses himself was so frightened at the sight that he said, “I am terrified and trembling.” Hebrews 12:18-21

In my opinion, this is the most fearful verse of the bible. God’s presence requires absolute holiness and perfection. When Moses saw the burning bush at mount Sinai and wanted to get closer, God told him:

Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground.” Ex 3:5

No mortal man can understand what it means to stand in God’s holy presence. Those who experienced a glimpse of God’s glory all felt face to ground and were like dead  (Rev 1:17, Daniel 8:18, Eze 1:28, Isaiah 6:5 ). Words cannot describe this feeling of being in God’s holy presence. The Israelites, Moses and our author tried to describe this situation as terrible, frightening, terrifying and trembling. Others fainted and thought they were doomed when found in God’s presence. When human ears heard the awesome trumpet blast and God’s voice, they were such in terror that they even begged God to stop speaking! They could no longer take it. This was God’s presence on mount Sinai. Now just imagine how heaven is! The seraphim and cherubim for instance were high profile angels who had exclusive closeness to God. They could not look at God’s glory either.

When Moses asked God to see His glory, God told Him “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh,before you… But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live. he Lord continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock.As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen” Ex 33:21-33

What Moses asked at this moment was probably the highest request God ever heard from a mortal man. God could not let Moses see the fulness of His glory, it would have been fatal otherwise. Moses had the audacity to make such a petition because God considered him his friend. My communion with God is not enough intimate and I’m so unworthy that I lack faith to make such a request. But when I look at the Son, I believe He wants me to approach with confidence to the throne of grace (Heb 4:16). God Himself arranged for Moses to see part of His glory. Moses faith was really built up after this encounter with God.

Moses’s face was even radiant when he left God’s presence. The Israelites were afraid to come near him.

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” Ex 34:29

We read in Psalm 97:

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;let the distant shores rejoice.Clouds and thick darkness surround him;righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side.His lightning lights up the world;the earth sees and trembles.The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,before the Lord of all the earth.”

This description overwhelms me. This is not science fiction dear readers, this is YAHWEH. Consider God’s holiness !

On judgement day, heaven and earth will flee from His presence. Every knee shall bow before the righteous Judge. Oh what a wonderful day that will be when we’ll see Jesus face to face! Seeing God’s glory is an indescribable experience. Human eyes were not designed to contemplate such beauty and glory. Let us dare like Moses say with a heart of faith “Show me your glory”.

John said: “Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure” 1 John 3:2

Moses had to hide in the cleft on the rock before God’s presence. But because of the Son, we’ll stand with confidence in God’s presence and even participate in His glory. This is amazing!

And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.” Col 3:4

The flesh cannot inherit God’s Kingdom. This is why the Son transforms our mortal body into immortal and glorious ones.

Paul tells us that “ What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.” 1 Cor 15:50

For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.” 1 Cor 15:53

Moses’s glory faded on his face(2 Cor 3:13) but look at what the Son and the Spirit do:

He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” Phil 3:21

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” 2 Cor 3:18

Do you understand dear readers that no one can stand in God’s presence with a mortal body? This means that our body needs to be transformed for us to be admitted in heaven. It is the Son who clothes us with this new robe.

But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Mat 22:11

You and I have no idea how glorious is this God to whom we pray. So when you go in your room to spend time with the God Moses saw on Mount Sinai, let your requests be few and your mouth full of praises.

As Ecclesiastes said : “As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few. ” Ecclesiastes 5:1

In the next post, we’ll see how the author wants to invite us to another Mount. It’s not the physical mount of Sinai where the law was given and God’s presence was not in its fulness. He wants to present us Mount Zion – the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.

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Posted August 18, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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