Those first-century Jews, to whom the inspired NT letter to the Hebrews was written in the first instance, had two choices. They could hold fast to Jesus Christ, suffer for His sake and be crowned with glory; or they could rejoin most of their fellow countrymen by returning to OT law and worship and perishing everlastingly!
Hebrews 12, by the use of two mountains, Mount Sinai (18-21) and Mount Sion or Zion (22-24), vividly presents the two options. On the one hand, as we saw in the last two issues of the News, there is Mount Sinai with all its terrifying phenomena. Do you see it burn with fire? There it is, enveloped with blackness and darkness, and illumined by streaking lightning! Do you hear the deafening sounds? Thunder, trumpet and the voice of God! The poor people asked never to hear that voice again; the poor beasts would be killed if they so much as touched the mountain; poor Moses exceedingly feared and quaked (19-21). On the other hand, there is Mount Sion. It is a place of peace and security and blessing (22-24).
You don’t want to go back from the Word and gospel of Jesus Christ, do you? Whether to Jewish legalism (the temptation for those first-century Jewish converts) or a false church or any pagan religion or the world? For once you leave the Lord Jesus, all you have is the thunder and lightning, the darkness and fire, of Mount Sinai! The curses and judgments of the law! The soul that sins shall die (Eze. 18:4)! Cursed is everyone who continues not to do everything that is written in the law (Gal. 3:10)!
So hold fast to Mount Sion, the true church and kingdom of Christ! For you and your children, and for all your days! You are a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem; you have communion with an innumerable company of angels and fellowship with Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant (Heb. 12:22-24). What more could you want?
First, we must consider the time of our coming to Sion. Hebrews 12:22-24 is not referring to the future. The text does not speak of coming to Sion when we die, in our souls. It does not refer to coming to Sion in the eternal state of bliss, in our resurrected bodies. Though these things will happen, they are not the idea here, for the text does not say, "But you will come unto Mount Sion."
Rather, we come to Sion in the present. "But ye are come unto mount Sion" (22). The perfect tense is used here. You came to Sion in the past, when you were regenerated and so believed in Jesus Christ, and you are still there, at Mount Sion, by faith. This is true for every NT believer, including you, child of God. When, by God’s grace, you came to Christ, you also came to Mount Sion (Christ’s church and kingdom). You came in the past and you are still there—with Christ and His church.
This includes Jewish NT believers. "But ye [first-century Jewish converts to Christ] are come unto mount Sion" (22). Jewish converts come to Mount Sion not by migrating to Palestine in the Middle East, nor by heading to Jerusalem as religious tourists, nor in some Jewish millennium in the future. Jewish believers come to Mount Sion the same way as do all the saints: by faith alone in the Lord Jesus, the only Saviour. "But ye [believing Jews and Gentiles] are come [in the past and now in the present] unto mount Sion" (22).
This is not the only blessed reality to which we are now come. The gospel privileges in Hebrews 12:22-24 can be classified under six heads: Sion and Jerusalem, angels, the church, God, the saints in heaven, and, the climax, Jesus Himself. "But ye are come  unto mount Sion, 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" (22-24).
Second, moving from the time of our coming to Sion, we need to consider its nature. What is it to come to Sion? As we have seen, it is not a physical coming. It is not immigrating to the land of Canaan as a number of Jews have done, especially in the last century. It is not flying to Tel Aviv and driving to the earthly city of Jerusalem.
It is a coming by faith. Remember the definition of faith in the previous chapter: "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (11:1). By faith, biblical truths are grasped and held fast, so that we have the substance or realization of them and the evidence or conviction of them in our hearts. Gospel realities are brought near and tasted by faith. Cling to the truth as it is in Jesus; don’t turn back!
Especially in the letter to Hebrews, coming to God is approaching Him as a worshipper in prayer and praise. The believer draws near to God in faith and hope and love. He comes into His court and approaches His throne bringing adoration and thanksgiving. Coming to the Triune God as a worshipper by faith is coming through Jesus Christ, the only mediator, and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Since God is enthroned in the heavenly Jerusalem and since Christ is inseparably joined to His church, coming to God in Christ as a worshipper necessarily also means coming to Sion, the city and kingdom of the Triune God. Since Mount Sion is a heavenly gospel reality, coming to it is a spiritual activity for all believers who are members of the church militant on earth. Don’t give up! Persevere, beloved!
In the next issue of the News, we shall consider, in turn, the six gospel privileges in Hebrews 12:22-24 to which we come through saving faith in Jesus Christ.
- Volume: 13
- Issue: 5
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851