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1754. Two Mountains

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
April 18, 2024 5:00 pm

1754. Two Mountains

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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April 18, 2024 5:00 pm

Dr. Steve Pettit continues the series entitled “Run the Race,” with a message from Hebrews 12:18-24.

The post 1754. Two Mountains appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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The Daily Platform
Bob Jones University

Welcome to The Daily Platform. Our program features sermons from chapel services at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Every day, students are blessed by the preaching and teaching of the Bible from the University Chapel Platform. Today on The Daily Platform, Dr. Steve Pettit is continuing a study series entitled, Run the Race, which is a study of the book of Hebrews Chapter 12. Let's now listen to today's message, where Steve will show us two mountains that are mentioned in Hebrews 12, 18 through 24.

Well, would you take your Bibles and turn with me, please, to the book of Hebrews Chapter 12. As we begin, it came to my attention over the last week that I'd made a statement and a message a few weeks back that I would like to correct and clarify. It was a message concerning God's chastening, and I dealt with how we can have a negative response to that chastening, which we can despise it and we can faint.

And the idea of faint is losing your heart. And in the statement, I said that fear was a cause for depression and anxiety. And I want to make it very clear that fear can be a cause of anxiety and depression, but obviously it's not the only cause for that.

There are many, many reasons why we can be depressed. And so I want that to be clear because I don't want to overburden you as an individual with a sense of guilt for something that you take upon yourself that is unnecessary. For most of us, we have to live our lives in such a way that we struggle, we go through all kinds of issues, and it's a part of our humanity, our fallenness, our proclivities. And so the Lord gives us in the word that the way that we overcome those things are really by understanding who He is and what He's doing in our life. And that God loves us and that whatever things we're having to endure, it is a part of His process of changing us and strengthening us. And so that we find strength and encouragement, especially within the framework of our mind and our emotions through God's love, His renewing power of love. So I just want to make that very clear in case there was some misunderstanding. So this morning we're going to read in Hebrews chapter 12 verses 18 to 24.

This is not in your book study, but it is really the conclusion of the idea of running the race. And so I wanted to set this before you and it can become a part of the life groups that we'll be meeting tomorrow. So I hope that you'll listen carefully as we look at this passage of scripture. Let me begin reading in verse 18. And the idea, if you want to see the outline of it, is actually in a statement where it says, for you are not come, but you have come to.

So we'll see that as we read. Verse 18, for you have not come into the mount that might be touched and that burned with fire nor into blackness and darkness and tempest and the sound of a trumpet in the voice of words, which voice that they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. For they could not endure that which was commanded. And if so much as a beast touched 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 you 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 the 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.

The writer of Hebrews here has just, the Lord bless you. And the writer of Hebrews here has just finished a warning to runners to not miss God's grace for the race. So what's the theme? The themes run the race.

We've been seeing it all semester. And there is grace that God gives for the race. We're going to go through endurance.

That's part of our training. And God says, get in the race, stay in the race. He warns us. And now he concludes with the ultimate focus of the race. And that's the finish line.

That is, what is the final destination of the race? And to enhance his explanation of this destination, the author uses what he has been emphasizing throughout the entire letter. And that is, he's made a contrast between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, between the law and the gospel, between Jesus and Moses, between one that is superior and the other that is inferior. And here we come to the final contrast. And that is the contrast between two mountains.

One is called Mount Sinai, where the law was given, and the other one, which is Mount Zion, where grace is manifested. And in his use of his logic, and I mention his logic, is called a fortiori, that is arguing from the lesser to the greater. He makes in this point this morning the extreme of that logic. And that is between an extreme negative and an extreme positive. And so here is the contrast. If the circumstances surrounding the giving of the law on Mount Sinai was so dreadful that it produced a terrifying fear of God in Moses, then how much more awesome is the gospel of grace that gives us access to Mount Zion, where we will live in the presence of God with joy forever.

We have the extreme negative with an extreme positive. And so we as believers, he is saying, are running this race and we're not running to Mount Sinai. We are running to Mount Zion. And he uses the phrase twice that you have come. And that word is in the perfect tense. It describes something that has already occurred in the past. We have come to Mount Zion. In other words, as a believer, it is our final destiny. We are running towards that city or to that mountain.

And this is what is impacting you now. As you run, you know where you're running to. You know what the destiny is. So this morning, let's take a few moments to look at the incredible description of these two mountains and what should be the ultimate motivation in running the race. So let's begin with the first mountain, Mount Sinai. That's found in verses 18 through 21. Mount Sinai was the place where the Israelites through Moses received the law of God.

The Israelites were guided to this location by God when they came out of Egypt. And I want you to note the atmosphere surrounding the Israelites encounter with God at Mount Sinai. I'd like to go back and reread the verses and this time I'll read out of the English standard version.

Notice what it says. For you have not come to what may be touched. A blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words may the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given. If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned. Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, I tremble with fear.

So let's try to get a sense of this. The Israelites have come to the base of Mount Sinai. They're commanded by God to consecrate themselves for the next three days.

That included things like washing their clothes and abstaining from sexual relations. On the morning of the third day, they come to the mountain, but they are forbidden to touch the mountain. And if they did touch it, they would die. You could call this Mount Doom. And on that morning as the Israelites see the mountain, they are accosted with a thick, dark, forbidding cloud that covers the entire top of the mountain. Suddenly, numerous lightning bolts streak down from the heaven, accompanied with thunderclaps so loud that it literally shakes their souls.

As the people approach the mountain, the ground underneath them shakes with seismic tremors. And from the top of Mount Sinai, a fire blazes so much that it's producing a thick, black, smoky cloud. In Deuteronomy 33, verse 2 tells us that there are hundreds of thousands of angels that are hovering invisibly around Mount Sinai.

Listen to what it says. The Lord came from Sinai. He shone forth from Mount Paran.

He came from the ten thousands of holy ones with flaming fire at his right hand. These celestial beings are blasting shofar trumpets so loud it is deafening. And when God begins to speak, the people beg for God to stop talking. And so as the Israelites stand before Mount Sinai, what is it that is confronting them? It is the awful holiness and great majesty of God.

And what is it that they intuitively learn and feel as they stand there? It is this, that God is unapproachable, that God is untouchable, that God is a consuming fire, that God is deadly. And the emotional result of standing at the foot of Sinai was fear in the extreme. Even Moses said, I am filled with fear and trembling.

So here's the point the writer of Hebrews is trying to make, and he's been making it throughout the entire book. Is this what you want to go back to? Do you really want to return to Sinai's law? Do you really want to go back to the place where there is no grace for sinners? Do you really want to return back to judgment and fear and condemnation?

That's the question. You want to return and leave the grace that is in Jesus Christ and go back to the law and put yourself under the law that can only bring the ultimate judgment of God? But here's what the writer says to all of us as Christians, and he says it's the reality of the New Covenant. For you are not come unto the mountain that cannot be touched, but you have come to a better mountain. And what is that mountain? It is Mount Zion. And that's the second mountain I want us to look at.

Because this is the motivation for all of us as we are running this race. And the writer of Hebrews opens up for us and shows us heaven. And he says we are marching to Zion, but you have come to Mount Zion. Do you remember the song, we're marching to Zion? Beautiful, beautiful Zion. We're marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God.

And so what does the writer do? He gives us seven descriptive features of what this mountain is like. And notice these features. Number one, it is called the city of the living God. But you have come to Mount Zion into the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.

There is a city. This is the city Abraham looked for, whose builder and maker is God. This is the city that John saw coming down out of heaven. He saw the new Jerusalem. Have you ever carefully done a study of the city, the new Jerusalem?

You can read about it in Revelation chapter 21 and 22. Let me first of all say it's a big city. It's big. It's 1,500 miles square. When we talk about square, we're talking about 1,500 miles this way, 1,500 miles this way, and 1,500 miles straight up. That's the distance, by the way, from Boston down to Miami. That's the distance from Greenville to Denver, Colorado.

Let me tell you something, folks, that's a big city. It's not only 1,500 miles square, but it's 1,500 miles cubed. It goes up 1,500 miles. Think about it, the space shuttle flies at 250 feet, excuse me, 250 miles above Earth's surface. 250 miles.

This is five times more than that. That's a big city. And do you know what? It's a city where we're going to live in. I've often wondered, what is it going to be like? I mean, is everybody going to live on the floor, or is there going to be some penthouse views?

What's it going to be like? How are we going to travel around? Are we going to drive cars? Are we going to fly in airplanes?

I don't think so. Because we're going to have a body like Jesus, and Jesus ascended and descended. Jesus appeared and disappeared. How many of you would like to be in a place where you'd like to disappear? Yeah, that'd be cool, wouldn't it? Boom, I'm gone, see you later. How many of you have ever wanted to fly like a bird? Raise your hand, come on now.

Everybody, yeah. As far as I'm concerned, we're going to fly. We're going to appear, appear, and disappear. We're going to move around.

Obviously, there's going to be plenty of room for all of us. It is a big city. It is a beautiful city. It has walls of jasper. The word jasper could not really be translated in a way that we can understand.

Some think that it's actually a cubed diamond. So not only is it a big city, but it is an absolutely beautiful city. And we are citizens of this city.

We have a required passport, and we have a visa that is stamped with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. This is the city where God dwells, and this is the city where we're going. And then notice number two, there is an innumerable company of angels there. One translation says it's a myriad of angels in festal array, or festal gathering. And the Bible gives us snapshots of the angels in heaven.

For example, in the Old Testament, Daniel 7, verse 10, it says, A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him. That's the Lord. Thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand. That's, by the way, a hundred million stood before him.

The judgment was set, and the books were opened. Psalm 68, 17, the chariots of God are twice ten thousand. Thousands upon thousands, the Lord is among them.

Sinai is now in the sanctuary. At least a hundred million angels. Now think about that. One angel was able to kill a hundred and eighty-five thousand soldiers, destroyed the army of Assyria in Sennacherib. If one angel can do that, what can a hundred million angels do?

Major damage. Can you imagine what it's going to be like? These are mighty, flaming spirits spoken of in Hebrews 1.

They are moving over us. And just like Jesus said when he spoke of Jacob in the ladder to heaven, where angels ascend and descend on the Son of God, why are you showing us how great Jesus the Son is? And these angels are gathered together in a huge festival.

Three times a year the Jews were required to go to Jerusalem for these festivals. What is heaven? It's a permanent festival, where we are worshiping God with the angels. Can you imagine what it's going to be like? I think of the opening year block party we have down on the fields where you join your society, you know, it's kind of pretty exciting. And all kinds of things are happening going on.

It's just, you know, it's just a handful of students. What is it going to be like when we get to heaven in glorified bodies and all of the saints of all the ages are there plus the angels? It's going to be a festive gathering. Listen to what it says in Revelation chapter 5. And I beheld and heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beast and the elders and the number of them was 10,000 times 10,000 and thousands of thousands saying with a loud voice, worthy is the lamb that was slain. The angels sing with us but they've never experienced redemption like you and I because we can sing from our heart knowing that God has redeemed us and made us like his own son.

And so this is going to be a festive gathering. And then notice number three, it's called the church of the firstborn to the general assembly and the church of the firstborn which are written in heaven. The firstborn refers to the firstborn son who received the rights of inheritance. By virtue of our union with Jesus, we are all firstborn in him.

That means we are all joint and co-heirs with Jesus Christ and we all participate in his inheritance. My father passed away in 1997. When he did, he left in his will an inheritance for his four children. It was enough money for each of us to put a down payment for a house. And so I bought a house many years ago up in the upper part of Wisconsin and every time I would drive into the home, I would think of the fact that I'm the benefactor of my father's generosity.

That I was able to purchase a home because of an inheritance that he left me. Every one of us are children of the living God and we all are heirs and joint heirs with Jesus Christ and a part of that is the blessing that we have of living with him forever in this great city. We are connected down here with those that are in glory and there we are joint heirs with them. And then notice number four, there is God the judge of all. The scene in heaven is joyful but it's not casual. The God of Zion is still the God of Sinai. His nature has not changed.

He is still the judge of all. Therefore all of us when we worship God, we worship him with reverent joy. Not shallow joy but what we could say respectful or fearful joy. Our worship should be in humility and respect and it should be in submission. Even down here as we come to worship God on Sundays in the local church, the worship atmosphere of a local church should be one of great reverence and respect. It shouldn't be light or flippant or shallow.

It shouldn't be in a sense if we could say casual. Why? Because we are coming to God the maker of all things. I love what Paul Q writes in his lyrics in his song, Oh God my joy you reign above in radiant splendor and beauty. Your word has drawn my heart to love the awesome sight of your glory. Your blazing light and gospel grace shine brightly from the Savior's face. No other wonder what I see than Christ enthroned in his glory.

There is God the judge of all. And then number five, there are spirits of just men made perfect. These are Old Testament saints who are now in glory. They were not perfected until Christ died. Old Testament saints waited centuries for that perfecting day that now has come. And for New Testament saints, the moment that we are saved, we are perfected in Christ, justified by his spirit and sanctified by his righteousness and sanctified by his spirit. Therefore, we share down here the same spiritual life of those who are up there. We are not inferior to them.

We are equal with them. These are the spirits of just men made perfect. And then notice number six, there is Jesus the mediator of the new covenant. It is significant that the human name of the Lord Jesus is used here.

Why? Because Jesus pre-existed as God, but he only became a man through his incarnation. And when he died and rose from the dead, he remained a man in his resurrection. Jesus is one of us.

He is our older and bigger brother. And he represents us and he is for us, is our mediator before God. Under the old covenant, Moses trembled before God. But under the new covenant, you and I have through our mediator, through our big brother Jesus, we have access to the presence of God with boldness and with confidence.

You have come to this city where there is Jesus, the mediator. And then finally, there is the sprinkled blood. To the blood of sprinkling that speak of better things than that of Abel. What does this mean?

Well, it could have two meanings. Number one, when it speaks of the blood of sprinkling from Abel, it could refer to the blood that cleanses. Abel was the first shepherd to offer sacrifices from his flock for his sin. However, his sacrifices, like all animal sacrifices, were not effective to watch away sin permanently. So, when Jesus died once for all, his blood cleanses us from all sin.

So it could be read this way. You have come to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. Abel's sacrifice could not fully cleanse. Jesus' sacrifice does fully cleanse.

That's one way to look at it. But there's a second way, and that is it refers to the blood that judges. That is this, in the case it refers to Abel's own blood as he was murdered by his older brother Cain. And when Abel's blood was poured out on the ground, we know this, we read it in the scripture, that his blood cried out for vengeance and justice and wrath against his murder. And here's what Hebrews says that Jesus' blood speaks better things. That is, Abel's blood cries out justice against the guilty. And Jesus' blood shouts out mercy for the guilty. Jesus satisfied Sinai's justice by keeping the law through his life and by paying the penalty through his death. And the point is this, that the law cries out judgment. But Christ on the cross cries out mercy.

And that's the whole point, and that's the position I take. That we do not turn back to the old covenant, the old way, but we remain where we are. And we stay focused, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. And we see this Mount Zion, for there we have the mercy of God that is found in the blood of sprinkling of Christ on the cross.

So, run the race. Be faithful. Stay focused on Christ. Father, we thank you for what you've given us in this new, eternal, heavenly city. Help us to be faithful as we run the race in Jesus' name. Amen.

You've been listening to a sermon preached by Dr. Steve Pettit. My name is Wyatt Smith. I'm a senior here at Bob Jones University studying multimedia journalism. And I want to tell you a little about my experience here at BJU. I've been here a little over three years and I truly cannot say enough about the community here at BJU. Whether it has been in the halls of the dorms, in my incredible society, or even in the classroom, I have always felt a very strong sense of community around me that has aided in my growth as a person and as a Christian. BJU's commitment to academic excellence has also pushed me to discover and refine the skills and talents needed to succeed in life after school, such as communication, critical thinking, and problem solving.

My time in the classroom has allowed me to gain hands-on experience in my field of study, all while giving me the freedom to think creatively and build my skills. One aspect of BJU that I have really appreciated is that I have been continuously challenged to develop and grow my faith in Christ through the preaching of God's word and chapel and the daily discipleship of those in community around me. I have truly loved my time here at BJU and I hope others will be able to share the experience I have had. If you or someone you know is interested in an experience such as mine, I would encourage you to check us out online at our website bju.edu and follow us on Facebook and Instagram at bju.edu. For any further information, please feel free to give us a call at 800-252-6363. Thank you for listening. Join us again tomorrow at this same time as we study God's word together on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-18 21:26:20 / 2024-04-18 21:36:14 / 10

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