110. Three Mountains in Hebrews 12

I thought I would share with you my contemplation of three mountains in Hebrews 12:18-24.

In this passage, we note two mountains representing concepts of tremendous significance: Mount Sinai, and Mount Zion. Mount Sinai represents law and the old covenant. Mount Zion represents grace through a new and better covenant.

You will remember the experience of the children of Israel when they first received the law at the foot of Mount Sinai. Moses went up into the fiery mountain and received the law and the two tablets of stone from God. When he came back down from the mountain, the people were already breaking the very commandments they had just promised to keep, resulting in fearful judgment (Exodus 24; 32). With the intercession of Moses, the nation was spared (Ex. 32:11-14).

But where is Mount Zion, and what happened there? In the Old Testament, the term “Zion” is linked with Jerusalem, the city of David. Many times it is linked with victory, glory, and divine presence and favor. Hebrews 12:22, the term Mount Zion symbolizes the location of “the heavenly Jerusalem.” This is the place God has promised to bless. This is the place to which God’s Lamb will return, and this is the place where the King of kings will reign in all His glory in a future day. The Hebrew writer links it with the church’s position of grace, in contrast to Mt. Sinai’s law.

The contrast in Hebrews 12 is clear, and the physical contrast brings out some spiritual differences between law and grace. Let’s consider them briefly.

At Mount Sinai, we read “Moses exceedingly feared.” It was a place of dread, a fearful place. There was an all-consuming fire, the symbol of the awesome holiness of the God of the universe, a God who must judge sin. A whirlwind and violent earthquake shook the mountain, showing the tremendous power of the unapproachable, unseen God.  A holy God must have holy requirements: thus, at Sinai, duty was demanded. The law brought fear, because it displayed a holy God who required absolute holiness in His people, a holiness which they could not live up to. The character of God was in stark contrast to a sinful people. Lightning flashed, and thunder rolled as God spoke from the mount. The mountain was shrouded in darkness: God was hidden from human view, and death was declared with the blast of a trumpet for any man or beast that would even touch the mountain where God came to meet with one man, Moses. When God commenced to speak to the people, they could not bear to hear the words of such a holy God and cried to Moses for him to speak to God on their behalf.

Come now to Mount Zion, the mountain of grace. What a contrast! If at Mt. Sinai, there was fear and dread, at Mt. Zion we find peace, for Jerusalem means city/foundation/possession of peace. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 8:1). If Sinai brought darkness, exposing the sin of the people, and obscuring God from mankind, at Mount Zion we find light, and access to the very throne room of God (Rev. 21:23). “Now are ye light in the Lord” (Eph 5:8). “We have boldness and access with confidence” (Eph 3:12). If Sinai displayed the all-consuming fire of God’s holiness and the warning of certain death, Mount Zion displays the all-sufficient cleansing of the water of the Word and the blood of God’s Lamb. If Sinai shook with the power of an omnipotent God as if it could fall at any moment under the Almighty, Zion stands in an unshakable, eternal kingdom. If at Sinai the people were bound by duty to keep the whole law, or die, at Zion there is rest in the all-sufficiency of the work of Christ to cleanse from all sin, bringing eternal life to the thirsty soul (Rev. 21:4). Finally, if at Mount Sinai the people could not bear to hear the words of God, at Mount Zion, the very Word of God dwells with men (Rev 21:3). He spoke and said, “I will come again, and receive you unto Myself.” He speaks the words of eternal life. To receive His word is to receive life, and in place of a whirlwind of divine fury, we receive, within, the Spirit of God in all of His transforming power.

Two mountains. Two stark contrasts. “But,” you say, “you spoke of three mountains.” And that I did. For without the third mountain, we would have no way of getting from Mount Sinai to Mount Zion. The valley is too deep. The passage is impossible. We need Mount Calvary.

Was Calvary truly a mountain? Christ was crucified outside of Jerusalem, and we have already considered Jerusalem as being located on Mount Zion, so I think the term is appropriate. It is the mountain of divine provision and substitution, where Abraham gave up his only son to God and God provided a substitute for his Isaac (Genesis 22:2). It is the mountain of divine sacrifice, where David offered to God a sacrifice to put away the plague of sin (2 Chronicles 3:1). It is the mountain of the divine presence, where Solomon built a sanctuary in which the LORD dwelt (2 Chronicles 3:1).  (More on that here.)

Mount Calvary takes us from Mount Sinai to Mount Zion. It is the bridge between sinful mankind and a holy God. At Mount Calvary we find the answer to man’s problem that he has had ever since Adam’s fall: the problem of his sin.

Calvary’s dread purchased our peace (Luke 22:44). Calvary’s fire purchased our healing (Lam 1:13; John 19:28; Isaiah 53:5-6). Calvary’s dark separation purchased our union to God, bringing us into His marvelous light (Psalm 22:1-2; Mark 15:33-34; 1 Peter 2:9). At Christ’s death, the earth shook and the rocks were split (Matt 27:51) as the Author of Life went into death to take our place and offer us life. Calvary’s duty purchased our deliverance from the bondage of sin and provided eternal rest (John 19:30; Titus 3:5; Heb 4:10). We hear unforgettable words from Mount Calvary: words of distance–“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”– and words of grace, “Father, forgive them.” Yes, Mount Calvary transports us from Mount Sinai to Mount Zion. This Mediator had the power to deliver us from judgment (Heb 12:24). What grace! What love!

The character of our God has not changed. He is still a consuming fire (Heb 12:29). But thank God, by His infinite grace the veil separating us from God was rent at the cross. We can now enter into a relationship with Him in which we are enabled to serve Him acceptably, not now out of duty, but out of devotion as our hearts overflow in love to the Savior who did so much for us.

Have you arrived at Mount Zion? Have you been to Mount Calvary? Sinai’s terror is the lot of all those who reject the Savior and refuse to hear His voice. Mount Zion’s rest is the bliss of all those who bow to Him as Lord and accept Him as their own Savior. “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3).

All things to me

I was enjoying these thoughts again from June 24, 2012 and thought I would share.


The more we find out about ourselves and others, the more we will see how imperfect and flawed we are. The more we find out about Christ, the more we will appreciate His perfection and sufficiency.

Ps. 62:6 – He is all my SALVATION

He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.

Ps. 87:7 – He is all my SATISFACTION

Then those who sing as well as those who play the flutes shall say, “All my springs of joy are in you.”  (NASB)

Phil. 4:13 – He is all my STRENGTH

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Phil. 4:19 – He is all my SUPPLY

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

2Cor. 9:8 – He is all my SUFFICIENCY

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

105. My portion forever

Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You have taken hold of my right hand.

With Your counsel You will guide me,
And afterward receive me to glory.

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:23-26 NASB

I have been enjoying the words of Keil and Delitzsch’s commentary in regard to this precious section of God’s word (adapted for readability):

“Confidently does he yield up himself to the divine guidance, though he may not see through the mystery of the plan of this guidance. He knows that afterwards, i.e., after this dark way of faith, God will take him to Himself and take him from all suffering.

“The future is dark to him, but lighted up by the one hope that the end of his earthly existence will be a glorious solution of the riddle. Here, as elsewhere, it is faith which breaks through not only the darkness of this present life, but also the night of Hades. At that time there was as yet no divine utterance concerning any heavenly triumph of the church, embattled in the present world, but to faith the Jehovah-Name had already a transparent depth which penetrated beyond Hades into an eternal life. The heaven of blessedness and glory also is nothing without God; but he who can in love call God his, possesses heaven upon earth, and he who cannot in love call God his, would possess not heaven, but hell, in the midst of heaven. In this sense the poet says in Psalm 73:25 : whom have I in heaven? i.e., who there without Thee would be the object of my desire, the stilling of my longing? without Thee heaven with all its glory is a vast waste and void, which makes me indifferent to everything, and with Thee, i.e., possessing Thee, I have no delight in the earth, because to call Thee mine infinitely surpasses every possession and every desire of earth.

“Heaven and earth, together with angels and men, afford him no satisfaction – his only friend, his sole desire and love, is God. The love for God which David expresses in Psalm 16:2 in the brief utterance, “Thou art my Lord, Thou art my highest good,” is here expanded with incomparable mystical profoundness and beauty.

“Luther’s version shows his master-hand. The church follows it in its ‘Herzlich lieb hab’ ich dich’ when it sings-

‘The whole wide world delights me not,
For heaven and earth, Lord, care I not,
If I may but have Thee;’

“and following it, goes on in perfect harmony with the text of our Psalm-

‘Yea, though my heart be like to break,

Thou art my trust that naught can shake;’

“In the midst of the natural life of perishableness and of sin, a new, individual life which is resigned to God has begun within him, and in this he has the pledge that he cannot perish, so truly as God, with whom it is closely united, cannot perish.”

When faith we have, what hope, what joy, what love there is in His presence, and with an expectation of so much more to come! I am challenged today:  have I been in the sanctuary with God (Psalm 73:17) and come out saying these words?

“The whole wide world delights me not,
For heaven and earth, Lord, care I not,
If I may but have Thee.”

103. He must increase

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

What a ministry John the baptist had! What was his job? Why was he here? His purpose was to exult Christ as much as he possibly could. And his whole ministry was devoted to pointing others away from himself — to Christ. When others asked him who he was, he simply replied, “I am a voice….” He was to be unseen; he was to prepare the way for the Messiah, the Savior.  He was to ignite repentance and faith in the hearts of those who heard him, a longing for righteousness and God’s Lamb. John’s purpose was being fulfilled when his own disciples left following him to follow Jesus, and he rejoiced in it (3:29). He would say that he was unworthy to do the lowest servile work for the Lord Jesus– to untie His sandals. What humility, what lowliness is seen in God’s messenger!

I wonder how I would do if that were my job.

But wait… it is!


Note: The Lord said of John that “none greater” had been born before him. Perhaps the Lord was speaking of his character, for meekness is greatness with God. As well, this could mean that John’s privilege was greater than any other before him: his ministry was not only to foretell the coming of the Messiah, but actually to proclaim that the Messiah was here! However, the Lord said that the one who is least in the kingdom would be greater than he; to be included in the reign of Christ would be a greater position than to proclaim His coming. What a privilege is ours to be linked with the coming King of kings!

102. Grace

The wonder of God’s love and grace is that He takes an unworthy sinner and makes him/her a child of God (Rom 5:8)– that He would become a worm to save a worm from eternal death (Psalm 22:6, Job 25:6)! He takes a vessel that is marred and worthless and makes it into a vessel of honor and glory (1Pet 1:7, 2Tim 2:21). Truly, by the grace of God I am what I am (1Cor 15:10), and I can do all things through Christ who pours His strength into me (Phil 4:13). Without Him, I can do nothing that is worth doing (John 15:5). I cannot glory in self, but I am glorified in Christ (1Cor 3:21, John 17:22). Without Christ, and without love, I am nothing and have nothing (1Cor 13, 1Cor 4:7). But in Christ, I am a child of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth (1John 3:1, Gen 14:19) and the bride of the eternal King (Rev. 19:16, 21:9). “Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:11). It does not matter who I am, for God chooses the weak and lowly. All that matters is whose I am.

101 – The Place

There is no place in the Scriptures like the place called Calvary. It is the pivotal place of history. There the Son of God offered the ultimate sacrifice to God for the sin of mankind.

It would seem likely to me that there are at least three happenings in the Old Testament that took place in very close proximity to Calvary, if not at the very same place. What happened on these occasions gives us foreshadowings of Calvary.

In Genesis 22, we are told of Abraham and Isaac and the place where a SON was given.

In 1 Chronicles 21, we learn of the threshing-floor of Ornan where SIN was atoned for.

In 2 Chronicles 7, we learn of Solomon’s temple being constructed, likely on the place where the threshing-floor once stood (1Chron 22). The temple was to be a SANCTUARY for God to dwell in.

I leave you with my notes on the subject, to meditate upon for your own enjoyment.

Gen 22:9-14

  • A SON given – place of consecration (surrender)

1Chron 21:5, 8-14, 18-30;

  • SIN atoned for – place of cleansing

1Chron 22:1-5; 2Chron 7:1,11

  • SANCTUARY established – place of connection

Luke 23:33 – place of consummation

  • SON: “only begotten Son” John 3:16
  • SIN: “one sacrifice for sins” Heb 10:12
  • SANCTUARY: “a new and living way” Heb 10:20


Note similar ideas that are brought out in these events at this pivotal place:

  • Knife / sword (exception: temple, apart from implicitly in the sacrifices)
  • Fire (2x from heaven)
  • Blessing resulting
  • Plan beforehand
    • Pointed out before (Gen 22:9)
    • Purchase before atonement could be made (1Chron 2:25)
    • Promise (to David) of temple (1Chron 22:10); preparations made by David (1Chron 22:5)
    • Prophecy fulfilled (John 19:28)
  • All / Only
    • Only son Isaac (Gen 22:16)
    • “I give it all” (1Chron 21:23)
    • Solomon completed all that God put in his heart (2Chron 7:11)
    • “All things were accomplished… It is finished” (John 19:28-30)

100. Rapturous Moment

1Co 15:51-54 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Time limitations removed: this mortal must put on immortality. We presently have a body that is subject to death. In that day we will have an immortal body.

Space limitations removed: the dead shall be raised. We presently have a body that is subject to earth. In that day we will have a heavenly body.

Matter limitations removed: this corruptible must put on incorruption. We presently have a body that is subject to decay. In that day we will have an incorruptible body.

What a day the rapture will be!