All right, let’s go ahead and get ready for our lesson this morning. It’s good to see everyone. Happy Father’s Day. I’m very thankful to be a dad today. Grateful I can share these pictures with you. I didn’t even check with my kids. Usually I always check with them before I include them on a slide, but I think I’m going to just take the right of Father’s Day and put these pictures up there. But that’s me and my son Nate. Very thankful for him. Grateful to be his dad. I love him a ton. And of course, these are my girls, my beautiful women, in addition to my wife, of course. But these are my daughters from a recent picture from last week of some time we were able to spend together at the beach. Love, Ella. Love, Charlotte. Such a privilege to be a father and looking back, extremely grateful for my own dad for 28 years before he passed away. And if my mom’s watching this online, I love you, mom. Love you and dad. So thankful that you have been my parents. Feel very blessed and grateful for you. Happy Father’s Day to everyone. I know it elicits different feelings for different people, but it’s just good to be together as the family of God.
Today, we’re going to dive into the word. Ladies and gentlemen. It’s hard to believe, but we’ve reached the final four in Hebrews. What I mean is we’re down to the final four sermons in our series. You know the theme, Jesus is better and the preacher of Hebrews is unknown. He or she definitely an old Testament gunslinger. We see that in every single lesson, every text we look at. The original audience, we have Christians that are drifting away from Jesus, and it’s a very real danger for us today, for us this year, for several reasons. The scattering of the church because of the pandemic, the worries and busyness that can chip away at our faith, and really our culture just constantly telling us that life is better if we live our own truth. And that’s what we face. So with this in mind, today we continue in Hebrews, chapter twelve. Eddie Francis will cover the topic of discipline next week in verses five through 17. We’re going to skip ahead today. By the way, Eddie and Lapadik are in Oviedo today at their Park Service. That’s where they’re at. So we’re missing them, but we’re happy that they’re in fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Oviedo.
Eddie will be back next week preaching on verses five through 17 of Hebrews, chapter twelve. But this morning again, we skip down to verse 18, and our sermon title is this: Two Mountains. Let’s look at Hebrews twelve, verse 18. This is the crescendo of the original sermon. Verse 18. For you have not come to what may be touched. A blazing fire, and darkness and gloom, and a tempest, the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. Verse 20. For they could not endure the order that was given. If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned. Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, I tremble with fear. So again, the writer takes us back to the old days, the old covenant, and these words would have just clicked immediately with the original audience. And I think for us, maybe not so much. What the Hebrew writer has just described was the holiest event in Jewish history. It’s when Moses received the Ten Commandments as they camped at the foot of Mount Sinai. The author sets the scene here at Mount Sinai and it’s terrifying.
This is a picture of what historians believe is modern day Mount Sinai, very imposing mountain. In verses 18 through 21, this is a flashback to the Jews in their first encounter with the Almighty God. And from the beginning of this relationship, God establishes a holy distance between himself and his people for their own safety. Let’s read the backstory of this scary event. Exodus 19:10. The Lord said to Moses, you go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Let them wash their garments. In other words, make sure that people clean and purify themselves for their first meeting with God. Verse eleven. And be ready for the third day. For the third day, the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the site of all the people, and you shall set limits or build this fence for the people all around saying, take care not to go up into the mountain or even touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch that person, but he shall be stoned or shot with an arrow. Whether beast or man, he shall not live. When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.
So, soon after these instructions, that third day comes. Moses goes up to Mount Sinai while all the people watch from a safe distance. God then comes down and fire and smoke and lightning, and even then through angels, okay, God meets with Moses and he gives him the Ten Commandments. Is this a casual, fun day in the park for God’s people? Do you envision just God’s people singing Elevation worship and hill song and getting their praise and Sunday worship on here? No, this is frightening, horrifying. And if you disobeyed in the presence of God, you died. That’s it. Let’s read some more. Exodus 20, verse 18. Now, when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off. And get this, they said to Moses, you speak to us, Moses, and we will listen. But please do not let God speak to us lest we die. Moses said to the people, do not fear. Easier said than done, right? Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of God may be before you, that you may not sin.
The people stood far off while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. So this is a scene on Mount Sinai that the writer describes in Hebrews Twelve, verses 18 through 21. He’s telling his audience, he’s telling us today, if you follow Jesus, mount Sinai is not your mountain anymore. Now, let’s be clear. God has not changed. But because of Jesus, your relationship with God has now changed. So if you were able to get the handout here, we’ll take a look at that. And for those watching online, AV crew, if you can go full screen on this one for those watching at home, you see it on the left side of your handout and you see it on the slide. Mount Sinai is an earthly mountain. There’s fire, there’s smoke, there’s darkness, gloom and doom when you encounter God. And when God speaks through the angels, even Moses trembles with fear. And if you touch Mount Sinai, you die. No excuses, no sentimentality. That’s it. You can only approach God’s mountain if you’re completely clean physically. Why? Because God is holy and you’re not. We’re far, far from it. In fact, we’re stained by evil.
So again, this is a vital part of who God is. Notice the present tense I’m using. This is who God is. And this is very cringe for us. I mean, most of the new Christian songs we sing don’t really emphasize God’s fierce holiness. If you were raised in recent American Christianity, which I think most of us were, or the Church of Christ, most of the time we only view God as our friend and as our Father, rather than fearing God as this all consuming fire of holy judgment. Now, of course, God is all three: friend, father, and consuming fire. Check out the picture here. To this day, many Orthodox Jews, they won’t even write out the full name of God. Many won’t even say the name Yahweh out loud. They simply refer to him as the Name. That’s because they were raised with this holy fear of the Almighty God. It’s the song that we sang at the very beginning. Stand in awe with trembling and fear. As a culture, we don’t like this part of God, right? We don’t get it. God’s holiness, God’s wrath. It’s not fun to talk about. Many times we’re unwilling to see Him this way, and you start to think, we put God on the hot seat.
Why is God so intolerant and God seems so judgemental? And why the distance? Why can’t God just get over it and be with me with all my flaws? We think this, we go there, these are good questions. And then we, well, what about God’s love and God’s grace? How do we reconcile these things? God is holy. And the word holy has very negative connotations in English, unfortunately, lost in the translation. Who wants to be known as holy? Look at him, he thinks he’s so holy. I think also we often define holy strictly as the moral behavior of religious people. But you see, with God and biblical holiness, it’s so much more than that. When we say God is holy, some of that, or some of what that means is God is unique. God is one of a kind. God is completely and utterly pure. God is set apart. God is other. God is just different. Holy means he’s the source, he’s the creator. God is the reality of all things. God has no beginning and God has no end. No one created God. Now, if you think about that for more than 30 seconds, mind blown. His power is holy. His power is completely other.
So when you come in contact with God’s holiness, let’s say you read a command in God’s word, you instantly realize how small, weak and broken you are. And it’s terrifying. When you encounter God’s holiness, you have no idea if you’ll even survive. When confronted by God’s holiness in Isaiah six, the prophet said, what? Whoa to me. I am undone. In other words, woe to me, I am so lost. Isaiah thought he was going to die. Over the years, my go to illustration on this is the sun. In our solar system, in a sense, the sun is holy. Here’s what I mean. For us, the sun is the source of all life. Without the sun, we all die. The sun sustains us. We completely depend on it. We take it for granted, right? It’s there. And there’s nothing that compares to the raw power and the energy of the sun. Nothing. And think on this we’re 93 million miles away from the sun. But what happens if you stare at it too long? It will blind you. Again, we take this for granted. It’s 93 million miles away and you can’t even stare at it. That’s the raw, unadulterated power of the sun.
That’s why we invented sunglasses. What if you just sit outside in the sun too long? You get burned. We need sunscreen for protection. What if you had a crazy idea to build a rocket and you wanted to fly too close to the sun? Maybe you have this great idea that I’m going to have a picnic on the sun. No, you’re toast. Literally. So is the sun an intolerant jerk when it hurts us? Is the sun judgemental? And is the sun mean because we can’t get too close to it? Is the sun your buddy? Is the sun a bad thing? No, the sun is completely good. But you must humbly, fear and respect the sun, right? Again. In the presence of this holy other power of the sun, our weaknesses are exposed. So I’d say in the same way, the message of God’s holiness is often scandalous and offensive because it exposes us. It exposes our weaknesses, our sin and all of that idolatry that’s hidden away in our hearts. Write this down, take a picture of this, wrestle with this statement. I believe this is the truth for all of us. Maybe the problem isn’t God’s intolerance after all.
The problem is us. When God’s holiness begins to press in on us and God has found something unclean in our lives, when God’s found a rebellious stronghold in our lives, often our gut instinct is to fight and scratch and claw, to hold onto that very thing. I know because I’ve done it. As a younger man, when God’s holy standard of absolute purity pressed in on me, I rebelled against it. God’s holy command of one man, one woman only in marriage exposed my idolatry. For years I fought God on this. I pursued sensual pleasure and happiness my own way and it nearly destroyed me and the people in my path. God’s holiness can offend us because it exposes us. And sex is just one example of this. There are many, many more, but to the point of sex, when confronted by God’s word, to deny immoral sexual attractions, sexual desires, impulses, what do we do? In our arrogance, humanity pushes back. We’re offended. We think we deserve sexual happiness whenever, however and with whomever we want. Love is love. As broken humans, that’s where we go. That’s our anything goes definition of love. Now think about it.
Love is love. We’re now defining a word by the same word. That’s the best we can do as broken humanity. Meanwhile, the timeless truth and the Bible is this: God is love. God created love. God defines the sexual boundaries of love. Then we just come along, we plagiarize what God created, and then we have the audacity to say, no, that’s real love. Our version is weak and powerless compared to the standard of God’s holy love. Love and sex. And that’s just one example of how God’s holiness could rub us the wrong way. Bottom line, I don’t know what it is for you today. Wrestle with this, will you humble yourself when God’s holiness triggers something in you. Because even the best of us here, we cannot get to the mountain of grace without first stopping at Mount Sinai to have our sin exposed by God’s fierce holiness. Speaking of, who would like to move to the second mountain? Let’s go to the second mountain in verse 22. This is where you want to live. Verse 22. But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels and festal gathering, and to the assembly or the 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, verse 24. And to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Now, this mountain is very different than the first. If you follow Jesus, this is your mountain. This is where you want to live, Mount Zion. This is the mountain you and I must choose. And it is a choice. You don’t automatically just find yourself on this mountain, okay? It’s a choice. Choose Mount Zion. And on this mountain, get this, you encountered the same holy God as the first mountain, but this time there’s a party going on. This is a picture here of modern day mountain Zion in Jerusalem. It’s a real place. It’s the hill on which Jerusalem is built, and it’s a place of safety, God’s presence, celebration. But it always pointed to something more than just the earthly location. It’s the city of the living God. It’s our future home in heaven. And there are so many hymns about Mount Zion, and hopefully now it’ll start to make sense a little more why the writers would write so many songs about Mount Zion.
That’s because Zion symbolizes victory. So go back to this handout again. You see on the right hand side. You see on the right hand side Mount Zion. And if and when you follow Jesus, this is the mountain of the New Covenant. Instead of covering your ears and trembling as the angel spoke for God on this mountain, now you have angels, thousands upon thousands of angels actually throwing the party. On this mountain, you, the Church, becomes the firstborn, which means you have first born rights, which means the eternal inheritance of Jesus is now yours. As we said before, what’s true of Jesus is now true of you. This is the mountain, as Tyler taught us three weeks ago, where you are being made perfect. This is the mountain where the holy and awesome God is now completely approachable. And one incredible day, dare I say, the holy God will even be touchable and huggable. So how is this even possible? How can the same God who was so distant on Mount Sinai now becomes so welcoming and so close on Mount Zion? Jesus. Jesus is on Mount Zion. We see in verse 24, it tells us we’ve come to Mount Zion, where Jesus is now the mediator of the New Covenant into the sprinkled blood that Jesus speaks is a better word than the blood of Abel.
This here is the climax of all we’ve learned in Hebrews up to this point. Jesus is better and Jesus awaits you on the better mountain. Jesus is the mediator on Mount Zion. Jesus is our go between, our peacemaker, our indestructible high priest, the resurrected Jesus reigns victorious on Mount Zion. We can now approach the throne of the Almighty God because of Jesus with confidence. What is true of Jesus is now true of you on Mount Zion. Again, God has not changed. But because of Jesus, the dynamic of your relationship with God has changed. John Newton put it this way and John Newton wrote a small song called Amazing Grace. You may have heard that one. John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, one of his other songs, he articulates this concept this way, the blood of Jesus has hushed the laws loud thunder let that sink in. The blood of Jesus has hushed the laws loud thunder. Today is Juneteenth. It’s a new national holiday in the United States. And on June 19 every year, we now commemorate the freedom of enslaved African Americans. And there’s no sugarcoating this in our country. The institution of slavery vividly represents the injustice, the evil and the brokenness of our humanity as a people that were created originally in the image of God.
The blood of millions of African Americans cries out from the ground for generations of injustice. Slavery, it’s just one example of our broken humanity that’s exposed at the foot of Mount Sinai. It’s terrifying. But here’s the good news. We see the very best of humanity on Mount Zion. We see Jesus. Here’s the contrast: on Mount Zion, the blood of Jesus speaks a better word to us than the blood of Abel. Abel’s blood screams brokenness, injustice and murder. As we sang earlier, Abel’s blood for vengeance. But the blood of Jesus speaks to us the good news of redemption, of justice and freedom. So I ask you, with such a great salvation spoken by the blood of Jesus, how will you respond? The preacher of Hebrews shows us how in verse 25. Let’s read it. Verse 25. See to it that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven? At that time, referring to Mount Sinai, at that time, God’s voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, yet once more, I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens. This phrase yet once more indicates the removal of things that are shaken, that is, things that have been made in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, let us be grateful, grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken and thus less offered to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe. For our God is a consuming fire. When God shook the earth and shook the Mount at Sinai, you think that was scary? You ain’t seen nothing yet. He quotes the prophet Haggai. He warns us that this cosmic earthquake is coming. Judgment Day is on the way, and this time God’s going to shake up both the heavens and the earth. And for some, this is going to be the greatest day of celebration. For those on Mount Zion, this is going to be an amazing time. Because when God shakes things up and burns away all the idols, burns away all the sin, burns away all the conflicts and the hurts and the pains and the tears, and all that remains is what is pure and what is of God. It’s going to be this incredible celebration. It’s what we want. But for others, this will be a time of terror, regret and condemnation. It is what it is, and that’s what it is. On Judgment Day, God will shake away all of our idols in this world.
All that has been exposed is unholy, will burn in the holiness of God’s consuming fire. Yeah, I admit that’s a scary message, but at the same time, it’s inspiring because this is how God works. This is how God gives us true life. He’s blowing that chaff away. He’s burning the chaff. He’s getting rid of all the wickedness. He shakes away and he burns away all that’s been exposed that has been hurting us. On the day of this cosmic earthquake, only the things that cannot be shaken will remain. So what is that? What is it that can never be shaken? What’s the only thing that will survive Judgment Day? Verse 28. The kingdom of Jesus can never, ever be shaken. And this should give us motivation. Do not pursue happiness in all the wrong things. Don’t chase after the wind. It’s going to burn. It’s going to die. It’s not going to last. Those things will burn on Judgment Day. Never give up your life for something that death can take away. Do not refuse the voice of Jesus. On Judgment Day, only the kingdom of Jesus will survive and thrive. And I encourage our fathers it’s Father’s Day. A word for the fathers. Let’s lead the way as leaders of our families. Let’s lead the way in building our family on the solid rock of the kingdom. Let’s build our families on true strength. The kingdom of God. Therefore, the author now makes it very clear how to respond to Jesus in verse 28. Therefore, number one, let us be grateful. Gratitude is the true mark of a disciple of Jesus. It’s not one of those things you kind of add in, like, oh, I’d be a better person if I was more grateful and I stopped complaining. No, check out the scriptures here. Write these scriptures down. Look at them. Gratitude is expected and commanded. If you claim to follow Jesus, it’s a decision. Check out every conversion we see in the Book of Acts. Everyone is grateful, every single baptism. Gratitude is the mark of someone who has been truly converted for the long haul in Jesus. Good news always remains really good news. So give some thought of this. A lot of times we hear this, I need to be more grateful, or you need to be more grateful, or Where’s my gratitude? Got to dig deeper on this.
When you’re grateful, what does it look like? What does it look like for you at work, at school, with your family? If you’re really grateful, what does it sound like in your speech? Your speech of gratitude should mark you as different and other wherever you go. How do you take care of something that you’re really grateful for? How much time and attention and energy do you give something that you’re really, truly grateful for? I think two of our greatest examples of gratitude in this church are our elders. I think Eddie and Lepatic Francis. I think of Barry and Debbie Mattox, been disciples for decades and leadership in front of us for many, many years. Yes, they have tremendous skills. They can solve problems. But if you think about it, they’re incredibly grateful people, and that’s why they’re built to last, and that’s why they’re out in front of us, leading the way. They’re solid because they’re grateful. And the good news remains good news to them. Not a coincidence that these men and women lead us. Gratitude, on the other hand, to be ungrateful is a sin against God. It’s not just a take it or leave it thing.
Second Timothy three teaches that religious people who are ungrateful have a form of Godliness, but deny its power. If you complain on the regular, if you complain about your life, if you complain about other people, if you’re complaining about the church I don’t know how to say it, but you are drifting, and gratitude is a sign of the unbeliever. Let’s be grateful. I’m trying to work on it. I’m not there yet, but I’m pressing forward because I know this is vital for me to be on Mount Zion, I must be grateful. Number two, worship God with reverence and awe for our gods and consuming fire. That’s the other response we’re called to here to Jesus. Worship God with reverence and awe. And this goes hand in hand with gratitude, right? It’s hard to worship if you’re constantly thinking about, well, I’m getting the short end of the stick here, right? It’s hard to worship when you feel sorry for yourself or you play the victim. It’s hard to worship God when there’s self worship going on. I do want to say this worship is so much more than singing in music here or at home.
It’s more than just singing in these church services. This is just an hour and a half. That’s why I hesitate to call our singers and musicians the worship team. I think that’s fine, but I just don’t always go there. The Hebrew word for worship is to prostrate oneself before God. Do you know what this is? This is literally laying face down on the ground, in the dirt, on the floor, getting down and dirty and talking to God and bowing before God. I did it this morning for the first time in a long time. I tell you what, it’s very humbling. It’s humiliating. It’s exactly what I needed. When was the last time you got on your knees at least? We get so casual in our relationship with God because Jesus has given us that freedom to approach the throne of grace with confidence. We must approach God and remember to do that with reverence in awe. Worship is 24/7. It’s living in the presence of God all the time. Paul defines worship this way in Romans twelve, verse one, present your body, present your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual act of worship.
Worship is countercultural. Worship means self denial. Worship means you put yourself on the cross every day and you choose Jesus over personal pleasure. Worship means you live in the holy fear of God. And you look back with sobriety to what it was like on Mount Sinai. When it comes to worship, these Sunday mornings are great. This is a weekly gourmet meal. But we all need a daily diet of private worship. So here it is. To summarize our response to Jesus, the living water challenges, I put these in the form of questions so we can wrestle with these. Wrestle yourself, get with other people. Let’s talk about these three questions. How will this passage change the way you worship? Number two how will you express gratitude this week for Mount Zion? How will you repent and become a grateful person? And we’ll end with number three. And this circles us back to the beginning. The question at number three is when God’s holiness exposes your sin, when God’s holiness exposes your brokenness and the idols that are down deep in your heart, which mountain will you choose? Today we’re a sunrise closer to the return of King Jesus.
You realize that? All of us have a choice. All of us can live on one of two mountains. If you’re stuck on Mount Sinai, God’s going to feel very distant. You see God’s holiness, you may be around some holy people you know God’s commands. You do know God’s expectations for your life, but for some reason, you just keep pushing back. Maybe you’re blaming God or you’re holding on to what God has exposed in you and you don’t like it. And because of that, your actions begin to demonstrate what you’re really saying is, no, I’m doing it my way. This is how I’ll find happiness and true life. I’m doing it my way. Deep down, I bet Judgment Day terrifies you because you’re camped at Mount Sinai. Old Christians, new Christians, not sure if you’re a Christian. Today I appeal to all of us. Let’s choose Mount Zion. When you feel God’s holiness pressing in on you, when God’s holiness and God’s word exposes your sin and your brokenness, when friends confront you on your sin, or family members confront you on your sin, don’t get offended. Don’t push back. Don’t go to Mount Sinai. Instead, humble yourself today.
Get with someone. Get with someone today. Get with someone this week. Open the Bible. Have a heart to heart talk. Admit who you are before it’s too late. And who are you? Who am I? A broken person with broken idols who desperately needs the saving blood of Jesus and the leadership of Jesus in my life. We’ll close with this. Therefore, in light of all that Jesus has done for you, therefore, let us be grateful. Let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. And thus let us offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Let’s now pray together as we celebrate the saving blood of Jesus.
Father in Heaven, thank you that we can take communion together at this time. Thank you, Father, that you’ve always given us a choice. And through Jesus, it’s always been your plan to make yourself completely approachable, lovable. Thank you, God, for your mercy, your grace, and your forgiveness. Thank you so much for the unshakeable kingdom that all of us have access to. I pray that you help us to share this with others. God, I also ask you this time that you increase our faith.
The world is all around us. It attacks us and it sounds so good and we get caught up in it. Father, increase our faith in Mount Zion. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for his blood. That speaks a better word than anything in this world. Thank you for his blood. Thank you for his body. We celebrate our relationship with him at this time. Draw us near to you. We pray all these things in Jesus name. Amen.