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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

2020.02.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 12:18–25

Questions from the Scripture text: How does Hebrews 12:18–20 describe the mountain that we have not come to? When the people heard the sound of the trumpet and the voice of the words, for what did they beg (Hebrews 12:19)? What had been commanded to do to a beast if it touched the mountain (Hebrews 12:20)? Who else said that he was exceedingly afraid and trembling (Hebrews 12:21)? To what mountain have we come (Hebrews 12:22)? To whose city have we come? What else is that city called? Of whom are there an innumerable company there? What is the church there called (Hebrews 12:23)? Where are they registered? Who is the Judge of all? What verdict has He declared about the spirits in the church of the firstborn? What else has been done to these just men? To whom else does Hebrews 12:24 tell us we have come? Of what is Jesus the Mediator? What speaks better than the blood of Abel?
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration come from Hebrews 12:18–25 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

In these verses, we hear not only about the mountain to which we haven’t come (Sinai, apart from Christ), but also about the mountain to which we have come.

The flow of the chapter has been: “we’re surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses… and our Father is doing everything necessary to get us ready for glory… so we too should be making every effort toward holiness… since we have come not to Sinai but to Zion.” God uses the greatness of these glorious worship services on the Lord’s Day to stir us up in the pursuit of holiness.

“Immanuel”—God with us—is the same One who was present at Sinai, but He comes now not only in the great glory in which He announced the law, but in the greater glory in which He has triumphed in grace! “Heavenly Zion” is not a mountain with smoke and fire at the top. It is not a touchable mountain that we are to stay away from, but a spiritual mountain upon which the Lord Jesus is taking us all the way to the top. And what we find there is a city where we belong. It’s our Father’s city. And it’s full of angels, which this book already taught us are servants who minister to those who are inheriting salvation (Hebrews 1:14). And these angels are not assembled for war, but for a great celebration.

With whom else do we worship, when the Lord carries us by faith to heaven in the Lord’s Day Assemblies? The church of the firstborn. What we can’t see in English is that the word “firstborn” is plural. Here is something strange: everyone in Christ’s church has the status of a firstborn! This is a place of glory and honor for us!

Zion is also a place of security. The rights of the firstborn have been legally recorded in heaven. And God, the judge of all, has declared the members of this assembly to be just—officially “not guilty” in the court of God. In fact, the souls in glory have not just been forgiven, they have already been perfected. God’s salvation is sure, and it works, because it has been accomplished by the glorious One, the Lord Jesus Himself!

This is the main message that we hear in Christian worship. To be sure, it is not the only message. As we are reminded once again in Hebrews 12:25, we are not to refuse Him who speaks—and there is much that He speaks.

But, before we hear anything else, we are to hear His blood. Abel’s blood was terrible news. God observed it. God responded to it. His justice refused to ignore it. These all indicated that God is a God of wrath against sin.

Jesus’s blood, however, tells good news. And it does a better job of talking than Abel’s does. Whatever sin testifies against us, Jesus’s blood talks louder, testifying of our redemption. How much more ought we, who have been saved by that blood, to listen to everything else that He says!
What is the first thing to “hear” in Lord’s Day worship?
What else should we hear in Lord’s Day worship?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH293 “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”

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