Hebrews 12:18-24(selected) For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, . . . Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear." But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, . . . and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant,
There are some things which are universal. From the beginning of time, and from age to age, people of all tribes and nations have sought for a way to approach God, and to make peace with him. By nature, all these people have known the Law of God, and have also known that they have not kept it. In their hearts they know that they deserve only punishment. How then can anyone approach that which is feared, even that which is rightly feared.
The world has had an answer, and a way it offers, it is deceptively simple. It simply says – You are not guilty! Not guilty by reason of some excuse. Not guilty by reason of circumstances beyond your control. Not guilty because the law is not fair. It is deceptively simple, and thus many are deceived, and many meet God in terror, for they know their sins, they know their guilt and they know their shame, even though the world has kept telling them to stop feeling guilty. The world even uses some truth, for it says, all people are sinners, but then it adds, certainly God is not going to condemn everyone, is He? And so it is that through the word, you cannot find peace with God. You cannot even find a way to approach Him. He remains that which cannot be touched, whose presence fills us with fear and terror.
It is good for us to remember the awesome majesty of God, the God of power and might, the God who dwells in unapproachable light, the God who appeared as a pillar of fire. For as we remember these things, we remember why God is able to help us, for this is a God who can do anything and everything. This is God who is not at all like us, and certainly not made in our image, this is not the God about which we sing, what a friend we have… And yet this is God, and in his power, we see why is must be worshipped and praised, for all creation owes him such service, just as certainly as all creation is subject to His Lordship.
So if our knowledge of the nature of God comes only from the existence of the word, and from our conscience, we do not know how to approach this awesome God. But there is a third way in which we can learn of God and his nature and will, not from our conscience, and not from the world, but from the revelation of God through the prophets, apostles and evangelists – the revelation of God in His Word.
And in God’s Word of Revelation, and particularly in the good news of the mediator and Savior, Jesus Christ, we learn how we might approach God, not in the fire and terror on the mountain, where anyone who touches it must die, a sight which filled even Moses with foreboding. But rather we learn of the place prepared for us in Zion, at the great banquet. And we hear a call for us to turn from our sins, to turn to our savior, and in His blood shed for us, we hear the invitation to Come; come and eat the bread of life. Come, come drink the water of life. Come, and receive the forgiveness of sins. Come, and rise to a new and eternal life. Come, and live in peace with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
In Christ, we learn of the God who is not far off, and unapproachable, but rather we learn of the God whose dwelling is with his people. And his people are all those who believe the promise, and trust in God’s grace and mercy, who are saved, not by works, but by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
In the old covenant, the blood spilt for sin cried to the heavens for vengeance and retribution, but not so the blood of the new covenant which washes away our sins, makes us a new creation, and brings us into the presence of God, not in fear, but in joy and gladness, knowing now the great love of God, which we have seen in his gift of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.