Thankfulness, Reverence and Awe

Uploaded by metrobiblefellowship on 29.10.2012

Well before we dive into Hebrews 12 today,
let's pray. Well, Lord, we're coming
close to the end of this letter, and we thank You in
advance for what the writer put down
as he was moved by the Spirit. Help us to take these words
to heart, and not to look at the familiarity of certain of these passages
and go, "oh yeah, I know that," But to stop, and let the Spirit
tell us what it really means. We know there's power in these
words, because they're Your words, it's Your Spirit, and we thank You in advance,
amen. Okay. We've been in Hebrews, this is the 13th
week. It only feels like... 13 weeks, doesn't it?
Bob will finish it next week, but I get a chance
to do Hebrews 12, and this is a great chapter.
As you know, this whole thing is about red flags and green lights, because Hebrews is a
collection of encouragement and warning and encouragement and warning,
and more encouragement, and more warning, because he was dealing with real people. People
just like you and me, alright? There are days when you are flying high,
and there are days when you get up, and you feel like you've stretched to your
maximum height, and you walk out of the house, under the door.
It's just a bad day. Well, all of us need encouragement, and all of us need warning,
and Hebrews 12 is beginning to summarize
this stuff. Okay? Hebrews 10, 11 and 12
go together, so there will be things here in chapter 12
that make reference to things in both 10 and 11.
So it's an entire picture that he's drawing for these people.
A picture about what it means to walk by faith in the New Covenant, led by Jesus Christ, okay?
The proposition that we've been following this whole series: The New Covenant is
superior to, and takes the place of, the Old Covenant.
It seems fairly obvious that he would have to make this argument to Jewish readers.
After all, they were people of the Mosaic covenant. The Old Covenant.
Why do we have to make this argument to ourselves all the time?
Because as we've been saying over and over again, we are natural born legalists.
At the drop of the hat, we go to Law.
At the drop of the hat, we take our eyes off of Jesus, we look at ourselves and say
"What ought I be doing?" or, 'Why am I not doing this? I know I should
"be," and every time we do that, Satan grabs
a long 2 x 4 and whacks us upside the head, laughing.
These people were suffering with that. Imagine-- and we've talked about this before, imagine
being a Jew of the first century. The Romans don't like you, and now you've
accepted Jesus, so none of your Jewish friends and family like you, either.
You feel like you're just hanging out on your own. This letter, and now
in chapter 12, we begin to focus down on
why don't we give up. What is it about Jesus that makes this so
powerful? So, title this, "Thankfulness, Reverence and Awe,"
We'll get to those three words at the end. But
they're very, very important words. But there's some things we need to cover first.
So, what I will do, is read a section at a time,
I may not necessarily read the section you think
I'm reading, cause of the way the thing is organized,
itself. So, and I'm reading out of the NASB, the New American Standard
and you'll see why, you know, in a little bit. So, the first three
verses. These won't be on the slides, so if you've got a Bible, please
use it, "Therefore," You always have to be aware,
there's a conclusion coming. "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses
"surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin
"which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
"Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set
"before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down on the right hand of
the "throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners
"against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
Those three verses are just packed full
of amazing, amazing thought, okay?
First of all, who is he referring to, this great cloud of witnesses?
Chapter 11.
All of those stories that he refers to, and he gives a little bit of background to some of the stories
and then refers to bunches and bunches of other people. If you look back at the end of
Hebrews 11, it says, "And all these, having gained approval through their faith,
"did not receive what was promised."
Is that meaningful for us? I mean, how does it go in Revelations
the spirits of the saints under the altar, crying out, "how long, oh Lord?"
It's always been that way.
There's a promise. We think the promise is going to happen by lunch.
It doesn't happen by lunch. We say, "okay, I'll wait for dinner." It doesn't happen
at dinner. Pretty soon, it's been a month, and now you're beginning to doubt.
Then it's been years, and then you get old, and then you die, and you never receive what you
thought was promised. This is hard stuff. Faith is not easy.
But faith is the only thing that matters. So, these
people, this cloud of witnesses; the reason they didn't receive it is in verse 40
of chapter 11: Because God had provided something better for us,
so that a part from us, they would not be made perfect.
What was the better thing for us? Jesus.
The New Covenant. Better sacrifices, better blood, better everything.
They were given this Old Covenant to give them something to look forward to
and even though it never gave them what was promised, still, those who
responded by faith and said, "I don't care if I die, and it's a million years,
I'm going to trust the living God," The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
And when Jesus died, and raised again, the New Covenant reached back and grabbed
all of them. Grabbed all of them.
That's the reward of faith. Well, here we are in the New Covenant.
We've got a lot more than they had. What's the most important thing we have
that they didn't have? The indwelling Holy Spirit. We are actually
alive spiritually. They could never be alive spiritually. They could respond by faith;
they could be rewarded for their faith, but they were never alive spiritually, in the sense that
they are alive and can never die again. You see
they never received it, because there was something better coming,
and that better thing has come and now all of us have gotten it.
That's the great cloud of witnesses.
There's some interesting words here: Let us lay aside every encumbrance.
That's actually a medical word in Greek. It means 'tumor'
or mass. Think about that
in the sense of your spiritual life, your walk with God.
It was generalized to mean, 'things that get in the way,"
and it's not just little things, what a friend of mine used to call duck bites.
You know, you go through life, and ducks are nibbling at you. They're annoying, but
but they don't do any damage, really. Well, these encumbrances
are big things in the road. If it was internal to your organs
you would have cancer, it's that big of an encumbrance. So he invites these
people to lay aside those encumbrances; stop
focusing on the problems, as we'll see in a minute
start focusing on the solution. So those encumbrances, and the sin which so
easily entangles, that--that entangling stuff.
It just... it's like standing too long in the --I never pronounce this right--
kudzo, or kudzu, kudza grass or vine. You stand there
for three days and it will grow around you, and now you're trapped.
Standing in some of the bamboo forest in Asia, where you can
watch them grow during the day, they grow that fast.
These sins will tie us up faster than we can blink.
It's time to lay them aside. It's time to walk by faith.
"Let us run with endurance,"
if you've got an NIV, it probably says perseverance. This is the
bearing up under circumstances
and that's not to be confused with the word that's quite often used
long-suffering; that which is bearing up under personal stuff.
I don't get--you know, I've been fighting with my wife, or I don't get along with my parents,
or somebody's told a lie about me.
That's people oriented, being long-suffering towards the circumstances of people.
Perseverance and endurance is long-suffering in face of these obstacles and sin.
These are things that are attacking us.
Fixing our eyes on Jesus.
This is not just
looking at Jesus. This is looking at Jesus the same way a sniper
surveys the land. They've already made sure the area
around them is clear of any obstacles, so they focus out
there, and by focusing out there, their peripheral vision takes
in a lot more of the landscape, and they can see...
you know, our eyes are not very good at seeing things;
they're very good at reacting to movement. So, if you develop
tunnel vision, and something is moving out here that could be a threat,
you're never going to see it. That's why--one time I was doing a lot of engineering drawing,
and things, and you know, I'm down here, like this. I was developing tunnel vision.
I mean, I couldn't see cars on the road. I went to the doctor to see what was going on,
and he says, 'Oh, what do you do every day?"
I told him, and he says, "Well, stop doing it." You know. Do it for a little bit, but then, get up,
and go outside and look. Right?
The reason we look to Jesus is because He's out there.
He's in heaven waiting for us. Who's prompting us to look at Jesus?
The indwelling Spirit. But I can't see the indwelling Spirit. All I can see is my
flesh, so as soon as I look down at my flesh,
the encumbrances of the sin trip me and tie me up.
The way to get through these kinds of problems is to stay focused on Jesus.
The minute I look at something I've done right, or wrong, I've taken my eyes off Jesus.
That's why anything that doesn't come from faith, is sin.
I mean, you could save a hundred people.
Take 'em to Jesus, they all accept Jesus. You, yourself, could be lost, because you've
accepted Him yourself.
So that's the kind of thing we're looking at. He is the author,
that means He's the originator. I mean there's a difference
between being the cause of something and being the originator of something.
To be the cause of something
you say, "I caused an accident. I wasn't paying attention, I drove into the back of
"of the car in front of me." I say I was the cause, but I didn't originate that.
That is the result of physics. The Laws of Physics demand that if
two bodies are in motion, they've got to watch out for each other, because if one stops, and
the other doesn't, momentum is going to cause an accident. Well, it was my not paying attention
that caused it, but I didn't originate physics.
So faith is not caused by Jesus, it is Jesus. He originated it.
He is the source of it. So we
got this guy who has authored something, and He's also the perfecter of it.
Think about Philippians 1:6: "He who began a good work in you
"will bring it to completion," So, with that in mind,
here's the reason I use the New American Standard. The author
and perfecter of faith. The NIV says,
"of our faith". It sounds like it's personal, like
this is what... you know... I... my thing. But he wants us to look outside
ourselves. Faith, in this case, and the way its organized in the text,
is the whole way of life that is spoken to us
by the Spirit. The Spirit initiates it, the Spirit completes it, we
have the privilege of participating in the Divine Nature. So, faith includes
THE faith includes what you believe, but it also includes
all the ramification of that. Jesus is the one who both is the originator of it, and
the finisher of it--the perfecter of it.
These words are so incredible powerful, and think again,
of the Hebrew audience. I mean, they couldn't help it.
Jesus is really that good? I mean, the Law's
pretty special. I mean, I have so accustomed
to the sacrifices, and I rely on them so implicit,
and you're telling me that Jesus fulfilled all of that?
He was that good? That powerful?
Jesus is that powerful. He is that
good. Why did we pick these songs today?
Because I'd been reading that. You know?
My hope is built on nothing less, nothing less.
Jesus' blood and righteousness.
Talk about weak made strong in the Savior's love. That's
what he's talking about here.
He endured the cross
and despised the shame and then sat down on the right hand of the throne of God.
When the writer says somebody sat down at the right hand, that means He is first
in prominence, He is preeminent. We know that Jesus is God, so in order
for us to picture how important Jesus is in heaven, we have to think
of Him sitting at the right hand of God, even though Revelation
gives us the picture of the lamb coming from within the throne.
Jesus is fully God, but for us, He made Himself human
right? Didn't count equality with God something to be held on to.
But He gave it up so He could show us what it meant, and He did that
and now He sits down on the right hand of God. He is everything.
Everything, and He endured all this stuff, none of which
touches us.
Consider Him who endured such hostilities by sinners
against himself. When was the last time
you knelt in the Garden, and nearly bled to death
because of the weight of sin being put on you?
Jesus could endure that, and walk by faith to the cross,
then who are we to complain about these light and momentary troubles that we have?
I say that... I'm one of the first people that start complaining...
"moan! My back hurts! I'm tired!"
Well, I AM tired, and my back DOES hurt, but big deal.
Jesus is everything!
Why do we consider Him so that we won't grow weary? That's all about
becoming exhausted from constant labor. Some of you have been there.
Some of you may be right there now. Your job, physically, is difficult, and because
of the economy, everybody's trying to do more with less.
So you're working more hours and not getting
paid more money, and sometimes you are on the edge of exhaustion. Sometimes you get there.
Well the same thing can happen, when we take our eyes off of Jesus.
All these battles that we face, if we face them looking at ourselves, we get
exhausted; and this "lose heart"? It means to
become despondent in your soul.
What is the thing we talk about with depression most often?
How do you get out of depression? You stop looking at yourself
and start looking at Jesus. Because if you're looking at yourself, especially
if you've been having some bad weeks, and we all get them.
When you're looking at yourself, you begin that spiral. You go from anger to self-pity, to...
to depression, and to despair. He's saying
consider Jesus. Keep your eyes on Jesus so you don't become exhausted
and depressed, and despairing.
I'm going to read from 4 to 11.
"You have not resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin."
Who shed blood in striving against sin? Jesus did.
None of us have been asked to do that. "You have forgotten the exhortation
"or the encouragement which is addressed to you as sons: My son! Do not regard lightly
"the discipline of the Lord, or faint when you are reproved by Him.
"For those whom the Lord loves, He disciplines
"them and He scourges every son He receives," We've talked about that word scourges
before. It really is scourges in Greek, talking about the Roman scourge.
All the ropes with all the pieces of metal and glass and stuff in it.
that they use to lay people open, beat them to death.
He got this quotation out of the Septuagint, which is the Hebrew Bible
translated into Greek, and they didn't quite understand how that Hebrew word worked.
The nearest Bible translated into Greek
and the nearest thing they could come up to was scourging, because it had to do with questioning
people. You know, "Have you stopped beating your wife? *WHACK!*" (moan)
Have you stopped beating your wife? Of course, that's a question you can't win, but
that's the way the Romans questioned people. Finally you would say, "Yes! I've stopped beating my wife"
because you can't take the pain anymore. Then they say, "See? You were beating your wife!"
That's how this stuff works. Well, we think God is doing that to us
because we have that picture. But what the Hebrew word means is that God
inquires of us. The Spirit's in us, if we're children of
God, and the Spirit gets into our minds, because His job is to renew them.
He says, "What are you thinking?"
"oh, nuthin' " "No, really, what are you thinking?"
Where is this train of thought going to take you? Let's follow it to its
conclusion without acting on it. So He begins to work with you, He shows you things in the Bible,
or sends along a Godly friend to ask you a question. A hundred different ways the Spirit
gets inside of us, and inquires. If we will
go with that inquiry, the discipline will reap incredible benefits.
God wouldn't let me
me, personally, leave the Seventh Day Adventist church, until I stopped being angry
at the Seventh Day Adventist Church. I wanted to leave, I wanted
to stomp out, I wanted to slam the door, I wanted to make a big show of it, and I couldn't do it.
Because the Spirit was inside, inquiring. "Why do you want to do that?"
"Will it do any good?" "It'd sure do me good" Will it do any good?
Why are you doing it? Well it came down, I was so
angry that despite my best efforts, me, personally, Richard Peifer,
could not change a denomination. They
would not respond to 'me', and when I couldn't control it,
I was angry. When I finally learned that,
I could let go of all that stuff. Then He said,
"It's time for you to leave," It had nothing to do with that church. Nothing! It was all my
problem. I had taken on things that I shouldn't have taken on, and I was holding on, and trying to control
and I couldn't control it, so I was angry all the time.
Each of us has examples like that. That's what he's talking about here.
That kind of inquiry. It is for discipline that you endure. God deals with you as
with sons. For what son is there whom the Father does not discipline?
"But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children,
"and not sons."
Let me try not to be too judgmental about this.
One of the problems with
the name it and claim it movement; the word of faith thing.
and I was talking to people...again...this week at the conference; is that
they demand that you have enough faith to do things like pray for
healing for your sick husband that he's healed. If he's
not, then it must be his fault
because you're afraid to blame God, but in your heart of hearts, you're saying
"God, what is the matter with You?" And God is disciplining you the whole time, because if
He's just beating you, and it's not discipline, right? The root idea of discipline
is learning; is being a student. It's not being punished
but we all confuse it with punishment.
God brings us along. If He wasn't doing that
we wouldn't be His children. So, if you're yelling and screaming at God,
because what you want hasn't come true, and you think He's picking on you,
then you want Him to really, treat you like an illegitimate child
rather than His son or daughter. Run to Jesus
and ask for the truth. That's hard.
"Furthermore, we had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them.
Shall we not much rather "be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
For they disciplined us for a short time, "as seen best to them. But He disciplines us for our good,"
The actual statement is
"they disciplined for a short time as seen best, but
He for good." What is the
kinda--the idea behind it? This is for good, it's continuous.
It's continuous. He's never done disciplining us.
To the very end, then He still disciplines us, because we got more to learn.
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful.
"Yet to those who have been trained by it afterwards, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
and it occurs to me I haven't been showing you any slides.
See all of this... remember all of that?
(chuckles) Yeah,
there we go (chuckles) You can tell I'm tired.
"Therefore," that's verse 12.
So we've dealt with the cloud of witnesses, fixing our eyes on
Jesus, because He is the originator and perfecter and finisher of faith.
We've dealt with discipline, now what's about this discipline?
and there's going to be a list of things here. All
of this is body of Christ stuff.
"Therefore," starting in verse 12. "Strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees
"that are feeble. Make straight paths for feet, so the limb
"which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather, healed." That reads very differently in
the NIV. I'll explain it in a little bit. "Pursue peace with all men, in the sanctification
"without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God
"and that no root of bitterness springing up, and causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.
"Let there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single
"meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected
"for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it with tears."
So this whole list of things,
therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. There's a double meaning here
In the NIV, it says "your feeble arms and weak knees," Notice in the NASB it says
"Strengthen the hands that are weak, and the knees that are feeble" There's both a personal
when you submit to the Lord's discipline, there's a strengthening that takes place,
and there's a body of Christ thing. Remember chapter 10? What's one of the main purposes of
the body of Christ? To build each other up in faith.
Because if you're going through some of this stuff, I guarantee you somebody else
is going through it, too. And the reason you get together is not to have a pity party,
not to say, "Well, what we should do is a class action suit here!" No, you take it to God,
you take each other to God, and you strengthen feeble arms and weak knees, so you do it for
yourself, and you do the same for others.
This is the kind of thing that causes church growth more than anything else
When you've got people who clearly care for each other,
in Christ, who walk by faith in the indwelling spirit, and have a word
of encouragement at just the right time, because they're listening to the prompting of the Spirit.
People respond to this stuff. You don't have to go
into your neighborhood and say, "Well, do you know Jesus?
If you don't, you're going to hell, you know"
and you know, most people would say, "okay, I'll go to hell. I don't want to
be associated with anything like that."
But, if somebody's having trouble with a lawn mower, and you take your mower
over there and let them borrow it, or cut the lawn yourself. Well guess what?
You've just connected. If they need some help with the kids because one of the parents
is sick and you're there at the right time. Notice you can't take care of somebody's kid
unless you're already in relationship with them? They won't trust you. So you have
to be in relationship. Then, at the opportune time, somebody will do
something like, "Do you go to church?"
you can say, "yes". They say,
"Well, you know, I've been thinking about that.
The kids are getting older, and I remember going to church with my grandmother
way back. Maybe that's for us." You don't have to give them a Bible study
at that point; you just bring them with you. Then if they're
encouraged in the Lord here, as well as being encouraged in the Lord by you,
and they're hearing truth, that is, Grace, instead of Law. Things happen.
Lives change, and they go out and find more people. This
strengthening your feeble arms and weak knees and doing so for others is
critically important in the body of Christ. Live in peace.
"Pursue peace with all men." Do we really want to
do that? Is that something that's fun? Sometimes no.
I'd rather hold a grudge.
and I do it in passive-aggressive ways.
What I really want to do is take a shotgun next door, and just bloody the house.
But what I do, instead, because that's not socially acceptable, and the police don't like it.
So, what I do instead, you know when I'm using the leaf blower..?
I don't know how that happened. Isn't our lawn beautiful, hon?
Well, where are all the leaves? I don't know.
Haven't you seen people do that?
I'm sure none of you have done that yourselves, you've found other ways.
Live in peace. This isn't the absence of war, this isn't...doesn't
mean that you're not fighting, because sometimes you may
have a really terrible neighbor, that needs
to be dealt with, in Christian love, but assertively.
Proper kind of confrontation, but still, even in the midst of that kind of confrontation,
there can be an underlying peace that passes understanding. They'll get it. They may not like it,
but they'll see that you're different. Be holy. Oh my.

"Pursue the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord,"
This is one of those little warnings. You know if you're sitting
here with us and play acting, and not really serious about what God has asked of you
and what He's done for you, you're not going to see it.
So, be holy. How holy? As holy as God Himself. Okay. I'll try. No. Fix your eyes
on Jesus. Don't fix your eyes on yourself. Let Him transform you, let Him set you apart.
Let Him fix this. Why? Remember what we talked about way back,
When this high priest meets our needs, one who is holy, and that word holy is not
this word holy. That word holy that Jesus is
holiness personified. It's not something He became, it's something He brought
to the table. Here, it's saying because Jesus
brings holiness to the table, let Him make you holy.
Notice you have to believe both things. If you don't believe that Jesus is truly holy,
I mean, from the core-out-holy; then you're never going to be certain that He can make you holy.
But when Jesus is everything, and He brings
all of this to me, because I'm a fellow heir. There's hope in that kind of
world. Don't miss God's grace.
That's one of those things that bugs me, because I
you know, I'll get to looking at myself and my circumstances, and all around me
things are happening, and I'm missing them.
God's grace is being poured out, even through me. When I notice it the most,
these days, is when things aren't going so well with the band..?
I tend to be an absolute perfectionist. If I ever make a mistake up there,
I don't hear another bit of the song. I'm 85 measures back, "I knew that should have been an F there"
I've just missed all of the grace that's coming off the
the stage, and coming back to the stage from you folks, because we're singing songs of truth.
Don't do that! Let it go! Let the performance
orientation GO, so that you can just be lavished
by what God is doing in your life. Only children of God can do this.
Only children of God can exhort one another. "Don't let
"bitterness take root," Aaahh, boy, there's one.
Please be aware of this next Tuesday.
(chuckles from the audience) I don't care who you're for,
one of those guys is going to lose the election. Do not let
bitterness take root. God is in control, or He is
not. Are we called to change
the United States? No we are not. We're called to be changed by
the Holy Spirit, and offer that kind of life to other people so He can change them. And it's one by one
by one, by one, by one. The last thing I would want
is for somebody to come up to me and say, "Well, Richard, you've taught a couple of good
"sermons, and you do music well enough, and I like some of the things you say on radio, I'm going to make you president
because you're going to change this country!" Nooooo!
No! That's not how this works. The church doesn't take over the world.
In fact, the Bible tells us that the world takes over the church.
You're only safety is
to stay away from the bitterness. Don't let your desire for whatever's supposed to be happening
out there. What's another word for bitterness? Depression.
It ought not have happened that way, and it should have happened that way to me! I don't care about
so-and-so down the street, but it shouldn't have happened to me, but it did, and now I'm angry at God.
We start talking funny, we start acting funny, we start acting like
we don't know Jesus at all. How do you fix that? Take your eyes off of yourself, and
put them on Jesus. Don't be immoral.
The NIV talks about sexual immorality, and it's included
in that, but the word is pornos. That should ring a bell with you. What it really has to do with is
more than sexual immorality. It's an immorality that comes from the very core that allows
people to sell themselves for profit. Not just sexually.
What about who has sold his soul to a company?
in order to make more money? Who has sacrificed his family, or her family
or his kids. We used to talk about this at Hewlett Packard when we're talking about
improving the way we manage projects because we heard stories at other
locations, or other companies, where you know, some consultant is talking with a
project manager, and the project manager is talking about the project, and all he can say is,
"well we have... let's see... Jim got divorced; Lori--Lori's got a kid
"on drugs..." and they're kinda proud about it. Because all these
people were working for this project, and this project was so important that they sold out their family for it.
It's almost as if they would say, "You know, another kid on drugs, and perhaps a suicide,
and this would have been "the perfect project." That stuff happened
out there. It's not just sexual. It's taking our
selves, our identities and selling it for profit.
That's why he refers to Esau.
Don't be godless. This form of godlessness is that it lacks all
relationship at all, or affinity to God. It's complete rejection of God.
Well, that's exactly what Esau did. He sold his entire birthright
for some food.
Don't do that. Avoid that!

Well, why?
The next several verses. "For you have not come to
"a mountain that can be touched into a blazing fire and into darkness and gloom and whirlwind.
"and the blast of a trumpet, and the sounds of words,
which sound was such that those who heard
"begged that no further word be spoken to them. For they could not bear the command
"if even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned. So terrible was the command,
"was the sight that Moses said, 'I am full of fear and trembling,
What mount is he talking about?
Sinai. This is how the law was given, remember? We've looked
at that. Bring the people up to this fence, don't even touch the fence. Anybody
touches the fence, they will die. If any animal crosses the fence, they will be killed.
Stand there and listen, I'm going to speak to you.
I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD! Immediately they fall.
No, no, no, Moses! don't let Him speak to us, we'll die! So God called Moses
up into the mountain, so that the people wouldn't have to be
overwhelmed by the power and majesty of the almighty God.
He wanted them to be overwhelmed.
He wanted them to get it, that He was God, and there was no other.
How much did they get it? Within a month,
eehh, Moses, he's probably dead. We need a god, let's build a god.
The first high priest, built them that god.
This is serious stuff,
we haven't come to that mountain, and some of us,
whether they're Jews or those of us sitting here today, listening,
some of us think we've come to that mountain. We're scared to death, we're waiting for the
Law and we know we're going to get pounded. No, you're not!
Continue. 22. "But you have come to Mount Zion,
"into the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and myriad of angels, to the
"general assembly, and church of the first born, who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all
"and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
and to Jesus, the mediator of a New Covenant, which the sprinkled
"blood which speaks better than the blood of Abel." What's Mount Zion
represent? The holiest of holy
places. Heaven itself. When the temple was here,
when the tabernacle was here, the Most Holy Place represented Mount Zion. That's where God
was. Nobody could go there.
If you walked through the curtain, it was instant death,
just as if you had walked past the fence when the Law was given in the first place.
Aaron's sons learned
that the hard way. The Bible says they offered strange
fire before the Lord. He killed them. He told Aaron
not one tear.
Not one. Because I am holy.
This isn't a tragedy. This was an affront to very God. Well, something has changed, huh? Because Jesus
came, and He fulfilled all that stuff, and He tore the curtain. So the way to
to the Holy place, through the Holy place,
into the most holy place, the way to Mount Zion is now open to us.
We have come to that. We've come to the heavenly Jerusalem.
We've come to the thousands upon thousands of angels.
We've come to the church of the firstborn. That's us, folks.
The firstborn is Jesus. He's over everything. We are the church, we are the
temple, now. We are Mount Zion! Not because of anything
we've done, but because of who Jesus is and the Spirit lives in us.
You get the impression that those who are
for us, are far more than those who are against us?
You get what it means, when Paul says we're not wrestling against flesh and blood,
but against principalities and spiritual wickedness, only
Jesus can save us. He has saved us. It's about time we acted
like it. We've come to God, Himself.
Right? I mean, that's what he's been telling them. Again, put yourself in the place
of the Jews. Come boldly to the throne of God! What!?!
Find mercy and grace. WHAT?!? Because the Law says if you come
boldly into the Most Holy Place, you come boldly to God,
He's going to kill you, we don't have to kill you,
He's going to do it! No, no, no. Jesus took care of that sin problem.
So now we've come to God. We've come to the cloud of witnesses.
See how he brings this back to the spirits
of the righteous made perfect.
Since he's talking about spirits, clearly these beings, these people have died.
All of their ancestors, that great cloud of witnesses, because of the New Covenant,
they've been made perfect.
Come to Jesus.
So, we've got a contrast.
You can go to Mount Sinai, or you can go
come to Mount Zion. If you come to Mount Zion, you will be made
part of Mount Zion. You could never be made part of Mount Sinai,
you're always on the outside.
So therefore. Here's another pile of things. Starting in
25. "See to it, that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not
"escape when they refused him who warned them on earth,
much less will we escape who turn away from
"Him who warns from heaven. His voice shook the earth then, but now,
"He has promised saying, "yet, once more, I will shake not only the earth,
"but also the heaven.' This expression,
"yet once more, denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken,
as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
"Therefore, since we received a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude by
"which we may offer to God, with acceptable service with reverence and awe. "
What's he talking about here? Do not refuse him who speaks.
In this case, refuse means, 'to beg off,'
or cop out. No, not today. No, I gave at the office.
We're eating dinner, don't talk to me.
That's that kind of refusal. It's a real put down for the person who initiating
to you. To do so to God, is not a good thing. Don't refuse Him.
Be thankful. This is
is amazing word. You know what this word is?
Charis. What does Charis mean? Grace
Well, we can't give grace to God, because we're
less than God. He gives life changing grace to us. So what do we have
hand Him back? Thankfulness.
The best thing, the most powerful thing you can do
yourself, to God, is to say, "Thank You"
It is reflecting His grace to you, back on Him.
He doesn't ask for anything else.
Just our thanks. Well you have to have been focusing on Jesus,
to understand why we have so much to be thankful for. If you're focusing on
or on yourself and your own failings and struggles. You can't say
Thank You to Jesus. That doesn't mean you ignore your troubles. If you need to go to the doctor,
go to the doctor! But you don't let those define you, and live your life
for you. What you're doing is saying "thank you" to God in spite of them.
because His grace is sufficient.
Worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.
Reverence is a word of submission.
You realize that every bit of this requires us to submit to God.
He never forces us, He just asks. He presents us with alternatives.
It's not like, "You're neutral, Richard, so I'm offering you a choice of burning
"in hell, or being with me" That's not the choice He offers.
He says, "Richard are you tired of burning in hell? "If you are, come to Me for life,"
Come unto me, all you who are burdened, I will give you rest for your souls.
He'll never stop asking.
Because it's not in His nature to stop asking. Awe is another fascinating word.
It has to do with modesty. This is the proper form of looking
at yourself. Here you've got this incredibly powerful
yet, gracious and loving God who has given you the Holy Spirit.
and when the Holy Spirit is disciplining you, or me,
and we look at that discipline and it exposes who we are,
we say, "Oh Lord, God, how is it, that You
"could have done this for me?" That's the kind of awe He's talking about. We never come
to God and say, "Yeah, man! I've got it now. You can go away and help somebody
"else. I'm in charge now." No! The more you know God, the closer you get to Him,
the more you realize the miracle He's done in your life.
One of those verses that
people are afraid of. Why do we do all this stuff?
Because our God is a consuming fire. Most people look at this as the ultimate
warning. You know, "Straighten up and fly right! Or burn, baby burn!"
Do you realize... remember this. We've talked about
this in a hundred ways. What does I Corinthians 15 tell us? That flesh and blood will
not inherit the kingdom.
Our God is a consuming fire.
It's not just the wicked who are consumed. It's His children
who are consumed and recreated, finally, the ultimate salvation.
Our God does that. He had
invites us, even in the state that we're in now, to come boldly to Him
and call Him Daddy. To, in effect, sit on His lap.
This consuming fire, sit on His lap, and receive
mercy and grace. Knowing full well, one of these days, either when you die,
or if you're here when Jesus comes back, He's going to go, Whoooosh!
and it's gone. He is going to consume
the old flesh, and give you a new spiritual
body innocent in every respect, just like Adam and Eve were created.
That's something worth waiting for.
You see how the writer has
put all this stuff together? How he's taking
the real life issues that all of these people face, and comparing them in every
case, to Jesus and what He's accomplished, and what He is accomplishing,
in each of us. And in every case, Jesus is superior.
The New Covenant is superior to, and takes the place of, the Old Covenant.
We naturally, even when we know better,
we naturally, because of the battle with the flesh, indwelling sin, go to the Old Covenant.
Recognize it. Admit it for what it is,
You don't have to say 'I'm sorry'. All you have to say is, "Lord,
"change my mind again. Renew it again, continually."
Don't leave me wallowing here in this self-pity, because
all of this stuff is mine, right now.
and in not too long, even more will be mine.
because You've guaranteed it. Let's pray.
Lord, God, we are
amazed, and we don't even scratch the surface of this stuff,
we see how weak we are, and how we tend to wander
off into the weeds so easily. We are constantly
amazed at your grace and mercy and patience.
the way You teach us, the way Your discipline us. We're constantly
expecting the back of Your hand, and all You do is help us up out of the muck.
Help us to internalize what it means
to fix our eyes on Jesus. Help us to be
patient with ourselves, even as You are patient. Help us to forgive ourselves
even as You have forgiven us. Help us to reach out
to fellow brothers and sisters in Christ with love and compassion
and build each other up in the faith, just as You build us up.
We know it's possible, because You're the one who makes it possible,
and we thank You for all of it. in Jesus name, Amen.