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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

YE ARE COME UNTO MOUNT ZION

Hebrews 12:18-24 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (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: and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) but ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 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, and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

In the lesson text, the author of the letter to the Hebrew Christians describes and compares, two mountains, in verses 18 through 21, Mount Sinai, and in the verses that follow, Mount Zion. Sinai was a mountain located in the south central portion of the peninsular known by the same name - Sinai. The mountain rises over 8,000 feet above sea level. After their exodus from Egypt, the Hebrew nation camped at its base, while their leader, Moses, climbed the mountain and there was given the Jewish Law, under which they were to live as God's chosen people.

In the lesson text, this mountain is described as the mount that might be touched. It was an impressive, physical mountain that could be seen from a great distance. Although its heights could be scaled, the Israelites were forbidden to touch it (Exod. 19:12-13). It is also described as a mountain that burned with fire. At the time the law was given, Moses and the children of Israel came to the base of the mountain, and this is what they saw and experienced: ...mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly (Exod. 19:18).

Exodus 19:16 describes the blackness, and darkness, and tempest, as it waswitnessed from the base of Mount Sinai by the children of Israel. Its awesome nature caused the people in the camp to tremble. From the mountain, the Israelites heard trumpets sounding that announced the presence of God. They heard Moses speak to God, and they heard God answer him by a voice. (A)nd the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up (See Exod. 19:19-20). To witness such an awesome sight, no doubt the nation of Israel was filled with terrifying fear. The account of this incident in Exodus does not specifically say so, but the author of this letter, by inspiration, tells us that so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake.

The lesson text continues by describing Mount Zion, that is Jerusalem - not the physical city of Jerusalem but the heavenly Jerusalem - the church of Christ - the kingdom created by God from the beginning of time. And, since His ascension, it has been ruled by His Son Jesus Christ from His throne in heaven. This is the Mount Zion, of which the psalmist, by inspiration, gave this prophecy: Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee (Psalm 2:6:7).

This confirms that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Ruler of this kingdom - the church that had its beginning on Mount Zion - the city of Jerusalem. The prophet, Joel, also confirmed the same, when, by inspiration, he wrote, And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call (Joel 2:32). Quoting the prophecy from Isaiah 28:16, Peter wrote this about the importance of Jesus to His church: Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded (1 Pet. 2:6b).

By revelation the apostle John was privileged to "see into" this new kingdom of God. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (Rev. 21:1-2). This new kingdom, of which Jesus Christ was, not only its Ruler, but also its Chief Cornerstone, was two-dimensional. Part was in heaven. From there Jesus rules as King, while seated at the right hand of God. And in their heavenly company is found an innumerable company of angels. The other portion of the new kingdom is found here on earth. It is the body of Christ; His church; the church of Christ. Here, in the lesson text, it is described as the general assembly and church of the first-born.

The firstborn in human families has always held a special place in God's plan for mankind. Firstborn sons were to be dedicated to the Lord under Old Testament law (Exod. 22:29), and were given a double portion for their family inheritance (Deut. 21:17). Miraculously, Mary conceived and brought forth her firstborn son (and named Him) Jesus (Matt. 1:25). Reading Romans, chapter 8, we find those that obey the will of God are referred to as those which are in Christ Jesus (Vs. 1), those in whom the Spirit of God dwell (Vs. 9), the first fruits of the Spirit (Vs. 23), the firstborn among many brethren (Vs. 29), and God's elect (Vs. 33). In New Testament Christianity, all members of the body of Christ are special to God. Like the children of Israel were under the Jewish Dispensation, Christians, under the New Covenent, are also God's firstborn. All are firstborn in that they all receive equal recognition and reward from God. There are no barriers that separate Christians by race, sex, education, wealth, age, heritage, etc. - all are equal.

In heaven, these "firstborn" children of God can be recognized because their names are written there in the book of life. The apostle Paul refers to his fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life. In the Revelation letter, John tells us that the names of the children of God are written in the Lamb's book of life (Rev. 21:27). However this warning is given to all Christians that err from God's will: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book (Rev. 22:19).

From the beginning of time, the church of Christ was to be God's creation. And, within the assembly, the church of the Firstborn, God is present at all times. He is in the midst of the congregation as the Judge of all. Through Jesus Christ, God established His plan of eternal salvation. To all that hear His calling, believe Jesus to be His Son and our Savior, make this confession before men, repent of their past sins, and are baptized for the remission of sins, God will add them to the church that had its beginning on Mount Zion. As our Creator and our Heavenly Father, God is keeper of the Lamb's book of life. He enters the names of the obedient, and He also purges the names of those that do not remain faithful - those that are unworthy of eternal life, which is prepared for only those that are faithful to Him - the firstborn children of God.

Heaven is reserved for the spirits of just men made perfect.It is reservedfor all saints that have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ - children of God that remain faithful to His will. Those that are made perfect, both faithful men and women, that went before us. They serve as an inspiration for all Christians today, to continue to faithfully serve the cause of Christ and the physical and spiritual needs of fellow human beings. It should be the goal of every Christian to conduct themselves, here on earth, so that one day they will be reunited in heaven with faithful family, friends, neighbors, and other children of God.

Within the new Jerusalem, the church Christ died to establish, we will find Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant. During the Old Testament era, the coming of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, was known only by prophecy. He was to come in some future period. Moses served God as the mediator of the Old Covenant - the law of God for the children of Israel. With the coming of Jesus Christ, His life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension back into heaven, the Christian Dispensation was established, and confirmed, by God through Jesus. He became the Mediator of the New Covenant, and in doing so, the Old Covenant, which was known as the Law of Moses, was superceded (Heb. 8:13).

Jesus Christ is the reconciling agent, that stands between mankind and God, and intercedes for them. Sinful mankind is reconciled to righteous God only through Jesus our Savior. This is initially accomplished by baptism in to the body of Christ for the remission of sins, and continues as the Christian lives a godly life in His presence, constantly seeking forgiveness when going astray from the will of God. It is the blood of Jesus - the blood of sprinkling - the greatest of all sacrifices, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. Although the sacrifice of Abel was right in the sight of God, it pales in comparison to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross of Calvary.

Only in the blood of Jesus can sins be forgiven, reconciliation be made between God and mankind, and heavenly Jerusalem become attainable by all obedient children of God.