Which Mountain for You?

I read recently how a kindergarten teach told her class to draw a picture of what was important to them. Little Johnny at the back of the class began to labour over his drawing. Everybody else had finished but he had not. The teacher came to see, looking over Johnny’s shoulder she asked, “What are you drawing?” Without missing a beat Johnny replied, “God!” “But Johnny no one knows what God looks like,” the teacher said gently. The reply came, “They will when I’m through.”

It’s interesting what image people have of God... What image do you have?

The twelfth chapter of Hebrews gives insight into how the Jew saw God. Hebrews 12: 18-28 includes a reflection by the writer of Exodus 19:10-23. It’s a fearful image and one that strikes terror into the people. But that’s the image that every Jew had burned into their heart and mind. Mount Sinai was a place that burned with fire and smoke when God’s presence was there at the time of the giving of the Ten Commandments.

In many ways that picture represents the nature of the way God interacted with his people at that time and the function of the Law. God’s plan was still somewhat obscure, access was limited and the Law inspired terror.

Often people today see God in a similar light. Unable to see clearly his plan for their lives, many view God as remote and obscure. Nevertheless when people consider their mortality, fear and terror factor in when considering what happens after death.

But the writer of Hebrews offers a comparison between two mountains – Mount Zion. What a contrast! Mount Zion is a winsome place where God has made clear his plans and purposes for this world and our lives. Zion is shown to be a warm and hospitable home for a cosmopolitan citizenship that has full access to God.

How is this possible?

This setting sits within an explanation to a group of Jews wrestling with their understanding of God and his plan for their lives. The writer is demonstrating that Jesus Christ, God’s Son and fulfilment of his plan, offers them a better way, in fact a complete way, to come to God. He seeks to change their view of God by showing that through the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the old ways have been replaced by a new administration of God’s kingdom and invites them to set aside the old ways and embrace God through Christ.

Why were they struggling with their view of God?

The Book of Hebrews deals with five reasons why people struggle with this kind of thing.

  1. Neglect – most people just keep putting off thinking about God, faith and eternity.
  2. Unbelief – others simply don’t believe. They reject the idea of God and the Gospel.
  3. Tradition – many want to cling to superstitions and other religious tradition
  4. Impatience – some look around at the world never seeing all that Christianity promises come to pass.
  5. Fear - others are simply afraid of style of life that they understand Christianity to demand.

Which mountain for you?

This passage is a warning passage

“See that you don not refuse him who speaks...”

Hebrews 1:1 says :

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son... ”

Friend Jesus has spoken and shows us a better way. Don’t ignore Jesus and reject the invitation to come all the way to Christ. Don’t go away having heard the Gospel and in full knowledge and conscience refuse it and be shut out forever.

Why is it such an emphatic warning?

If the Israelites disobeyed God at Sinai and touched the mountain, death was the penalty. He gave them clear warning and the reason for it. They couldn’t be in his presence in their sin. Well friend the same applies to an unbeliever today. We, in our sinful state, have no way of approaching God on our own.

If you die today having never had your sin dealt with, having never had your relationship with God restored, and then you are effectively at your own personal Mount Sinai. God is remote and you unable to approach. Eternity for you means being removed from his presence and involves being subject to punishment for which Mount Sinai is but a symbol - terrible and terrifying punishment awaits those who reject the voice of God.

Yet for those who heed the warning, the outcome is vastly different. It is Mount Zion for you! Psalm 2:12 says:

“Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

C.S. Lewis wrote:

“He can’t be used as a road... If you’re approaching Him not as the goal but as a road... not as the end but as a means... you’re really not approaching Him at all...”

Mount Zion awaits the believer. It’s a place of rest and peace, a place of beauty, a place of welcome.

Friend, so which mountain for you?