Hebrews 12:18-29 - Outline of Hebrews (MENU page)
C. Those who look unto Jesus will endure the Shaking of the world by God (see note at v.4).
12:18 For ye are not come
unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire,
nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,
the mount- is Mt. Sinai, at the time when the Law was given. Ex 19:12-20
12:19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words;
which [voice] they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
Ex 20:18-21; Deut 5:23-29
12:20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded,
And if so much as a beast touch the mountain,
it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:
{Ex 19:12,13}
a beast- Even the lowest creatures within the camp (those without knowledge of right & wrong)
were unfit to approach the Holy God.
12:21 And so terrible was the sight, [that] Moses said,
I exceedingly fear and quake:)
Moses- Even the best man of the congregation (the one who was invited to approach God)
was terrified to do so.
they could not endure (v.20)-
What hope was there for the average man to approach God and live?
The manner in which the Law was given demonstrates man's inability to keep it.
The Old Covenant law demands a standard of holiness which man cannot meet.
(cp. Ex 20:1-17; Rom 3:19-20)
"Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." (Gal 3:10)
The writer of Hebrews is effectively asking his readers:
Would you return to the Law, where there is no approach to God, even though access into His presence has been opened to us by Christ? (v.22) Rom 8:15
12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God,
the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
the city- (here, multiple names describe one city)
-- for which Abraham looked (cp. 11:10,13-16)
-- where the living God dwells among His people.
-- which one day will come down to earth, when Christ returns.
The passages below ring with the joy of His presence, whether in earth or heaven.
Psa 2:6; 48:2; Isa 28:16; 51:11; Joel 2:32; Psa 42:2; 84:2; Rev 21:1-5
innumerable angels- spirit beings who serve God continually (see notes at 1:4-6)
The phrase 'innumerable company' is translated from one word {GK= murias, myriads, ten thousands}.
The first few words (one Greek word), of v.23, properly belong in v.22, to read:
"...to a general assembly {lit., full gathering} of myriads of angels..." cp. Dan 7:10; Rev 5:11,12
(The word 'church,' in v.23, identifies another assembly of worshipers.)
12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven,
and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
the church of the firstborn ...written in heaven-
-- the firstborn- GK=prototokos, the first or chief begotten.
This refers to Christ's pre-eminence (see note at 1:6).
The church of Christ exists by Him & for Him.
-- the church...- GK=ekklesia, called out ones
Individual believers are called out & joined to the body over which He is Head.
     Rom 8:29,30; Col 1:15-18; Heb 1:6; Psa 89:27
...which are written in heaven- Their names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
     Luk 10:20; Rev 21:10,27
to God the Judge of all- Notice that all who are gathered here around Him are at peace.
There is no veil of separation, no cloud of darkness, no fear & trembling in His presence.
For them, the matter of sin has been fully dealt with.
Having been made righteous, they stand justified before the Judge.
to the spirits of just men made perfect- ie., the men of faith (eg., ch 11),
who did not in their lifetimes receive earthly fulfillment of God's promises,
have now been made spiritually complete in His presence.
The OT believers, who once waited for God's Salvation, have entered into the spiritual reality (though the physical promises, to Israel, await the Millennial Kingdom, eg., Dan 12:13). cp. 2Cor 5:1-8; Php 1:21-23
12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant,
See note at 8:6.
new- GK= neos, young, youthful, recently brought forth.
In every other occurrence of "new covenant," the word for 'new' is GK=kainos, a new kind, unprecedented, novel. Here, that 'new kind' of covenant which Christ secured historically by His blood, having been 'newly implemented,' has begun to blossom with blessing (and will increasingly continue to do so), for those to whom it applies. Heb 8:6-13; 9:15
and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than [that of] Abel.
the blood -
  • of Abel- cried out from the ground for vengeance (God's wrath) against sin. Gen 4:8-10
  • of Abel's lamb- could not take away sins,
    but it spoke of the (then future) coming of the Lamb of God. (see 11:4 note)
  • of Christ- cries out "It is finished,"
    secures God's mercy, puts away sin, and purifies the sinner. Heb 9:14; 10:22
12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh.
For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth,
much more [shall not] we [escape], if we turn away from him that [speaketh] from heaven:
refuse not- GK=paraiteomai, lit., to ask aside, to decline, to beg off.
(Elsewhere translated: entreated, v.19; to make excuse Luk 14:18,19.)
they escaped not- The Israelites, in shrinking from the voice of Him who
gave the Law (v.19), could avoid neither their obligation to obey nor the consequences of disobedience.
much more... we- Our obligation is far greater because
we have been privileged to receive much fuller revelation. God Himself has spoken to us in the person of His Son (1:1-3) and in the power of His blood (12:24).
we shall not escape, if we turn away- Heb 2:2-4; 10:26,27
12:26 Whose voice then shook the earth: {ie., at Mt. Sinai, v.18-21; Ex 19:18,19}
but now he hath promised, saying, {quoting from Hag 2:6,7}
Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. {cp. Mat 24:29,30}
12:27 And this [word], Yet once more, {ie., once more only}
signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made,
that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
cp. Psa 102:25-27; Isa 65:17; Mat 24:35; 2Pet 3:10,11; Rev 11:15; 21:1-8
things to be removed- include the world, the flesh, the devil,
the unbelieving, the impure...
as of things...made- This goes beyond the shaking of "creation."
The word "made" (GK=poieo, to do, to bring forth) does not mean "create," but rather refers to things "done" in the earth by man or by God.
Man is meant to "do" God's will, but he is free to do otherwise. God desires to "work" His will in man's heart, but man must yield (cp. 13:21).
When all is said & done, everything done under the sun will be tested (v.29).
things which will remain- God in three persons, His Word, His Kingdom,
His children (those who are born of Him), and all that He has done in and through them...
12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved,
let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
we receiving a kingdom- The eternal kingdom belongs to those who believe,
who have received God's word (eg. 11:2), who have not refused it (eg. 12:25).
Dan 7:18; Mat 25:34
serve God acceptably- We are not to be 'playing church,' but rather
performing the priestly duties for which Christ has purified us.
Eg.: Heb 9:14; 10:22-25; 13:15
-- with reverence & godly fear- Serving God is a matter to be taken seriously.
cp. the example of the Author of our faith: Heb 5:7-9
12:29 For our God [is] a consuming fire.
This verse quotes from Deut 4:23,24 and 9:3. The contexts of these passages differ:
In the former, God's wrath is directed against the sin of His people,
in the latter, against His enemies. Both aspects apply here also:
For those who refuse His salvation, there remains only eternal fire.
2The 1:8; Heb 10:26-31
For those who are His, God will burn away all that is not of Him.
1Cor 3:11-15; 2Cor 5:10; 1Pet 4:17-19

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