Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done.
You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken —that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
So far in the book of Hebrews, the absolute superiority of Christ has been demonstrated. The call for steadfast endurance has been repeated several times over. This section is the final appeal along these lines. With this section, the main argument of the book comes to a conclusion.
In this section, the earthly kingdom established at Mount Sinai is compared to the heavenly kingdom established by Christ. God’s severity in dealing with negligent subjects is compared in both kingdoms. The basic point is that a superior kingdom demands a superior response from the subjects of that kingdom.
In verses 14-17, the writer warns of the danger of falling short. We are instructed to pursue “peace” and “sanctification”. Just as discipline was a sure sign of being a child of God, so sanctification is a sure sign of a new life. The one who is not being sanctified by God is not His child. The writer also warns his readers to make sure that “no one misses the grace of God”. This literally is translated “falls back from”. We all have a responsibility to make sure that no one “falls back from” the grace of God. It is tempting to return to old religious formulas and rituals. We must hold each other accountable, so that, we don’t misrepresent the grace of God in its various forms.
Then the writer introduces an example of one who fell short. Esau thought lightly of the value of his birthright. He sold it to Jacob for a single meal. He did not take the time to think about the fact that the father’s blessing was attached to the right of the firstborn. This example relates directly to the warnings in Hebrews as to the fact that it is “impossible to renew to repentance” the apostate. The writer is saying; make sure none of you do what Esau did!
In verses 18-24, the writer compares the old system to the new system one last time. The point is to show the superiority of the new system. Because of the overall superiority of the new system, we have good reason not to refuse the God who is speaking to us.
In verses 25-29, the writer once again encourages his readers not to refuse the God who speaks to His children. In the end, God’s kingdom will endure while all other kingdoms will fade away. Therefore, we should show proper gratitude toward God as we recognize the nature of His kingdom which He has prepared for us. It is like an indescribable gift which, once opened and viewed, fills the heart of the recipient with thankfulness. The “acceptable service or worship” is our response to God’s voice. Specific steps of response will be given in chapter thirteen.
The magnitude and superiority of the present kingdom program must be securely grasped. This must sink into our minds if we are to fully appreciate and remain faithful to His kingdom. It is easy for us to lose our heavenly perspective. This section of scripture enlarges our vision greatly.
Questions to Ponder
How are you pursuing peace and holiness in your spiritual walk? How can you make sure that no one “misses the grace of God”? How might you show proper gratitude to God for what He has done in your life? The experience at Mount Sinai did not leave the people with a permanent, reverential fear of God. They quickly departed from His laws. How might we ensure that our experiences at “Mount Zion” will result in a permanent, life-changing respect for God?
- Praise the Lord Who has given us life everlasting! Eternity has been written upon our hearts and we are His now and forevermore.
- Praise Him for His power, might and glory. His kingdom knows no end. Our Father is the God of the universe, the firstborn from the dead and He is coming back for us.
- Tremble before His Holy Presence in awe of His majesty and brilliance. Allow your heart to confess any sins as You sit before our Holy God.
- Thank Him for His forgiveness, mercy and grace. Thank Him for life everlasting in Him and for richly blessing you with your relationship with Him and others.
- Pray for clean hands and a pure heart. Pray for His grace to flow in and through you and our church family. Pray for sincere and pure love of Christ to overflow from our lives.
- Listen to the Lord today and pray for help to yield to His Spirit and obey Him.
Father in Heaven,
I ask that You infill me and Your church with Your Holy Spirit. I ask for strength, perseverance, endurance and for eyes to remain on You. I ask for power to think on things that are good, lovely and pure and to cast down anything that sets itself up against the knowledge of You oh God. I pray that we will have thankful and grateful hearts overflowing with Your love and encouragement. Empower us to walk in a manner that is worthy of You Oh God. Bearing fruit, growing in the knowledge of You, pleasing You and sharing in the joy that is set before us. May Your will be done in our lives as it is in heaven. I ask in the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.