Hebrews 12:18-29 - Outline of Hebrews (Book Notes menu page)
By "looking unto Jesus" (v.2,3), those who live by faith will endure through:
A. Opposition ("contradiction of sinners") (v.1-4).
B. Chastening (from the Father) (v.5-17).
C. Shaking (of the world system by God) (v.18-29).
12:18 For ye are not come
unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire,
nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,
the mount - is Mount Sinai, where the Law was given. Ex 19:12-20
12:19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words;
which [voice] they that heard intreated
that the word should not be spoken to them any more:
Ex 20:18-21; Deut 5:23-29
12:20 (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:
{Ex 19:12,13}
a beast - Even the lowest creatures within the camp (those without knowledge of right & wrong)
were unfit to approach the Holy God.
12:21 And so terrible was the sight, [that] Moses said,
I exceedingly fear and quake:)
Moses - Even the best man of the congregation (the one who was invited to approach God)
was terrified to do so.
they could not endure (v.20) -
What hope was there for the average man to approach God and live?
The manner in which the Law was given demonstrates man's condemnation before it.
The Law demands a standard of holiness which man cannot meet. Ex 20:1-18; Rom 3:19,20
"Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them." (Gal 3:10,11-14)
The writer of Hebrews is effectively asking his readers:
Would you return to the Old Covenant Law, where there is no approach to God, even though access into His presence has been opened to us by faith in Christ? Heb 10:16-23; Rom 8:15
12:22 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,
the city - (here, multiple names describe one city)
innumerable angels {spirit beings, who serve God continually. (see Notes at 1:4-6)}
The phrase 'innumerable company' is one GK word {GK= murias, myriads, ten thousands}.
The opening phrase of v.23 (also one GK word) properly belongs in v.22, to read:
     "...to a general assembly {GK=paneguris, lit., full gathering} of myriads of angels..."
     (cp. Dan 7:10; Rev 5:11,12)
The word 'church,' in v.23, identifies another group of worshippers.
12:23 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,
the church of the firstborn... written in heaven -
-- the firstborn {GK=prototokos, the 'first' or 'chief' begotten}
This refers to Christ's preeminence (see Note at Heb 1:6).
The church of Christ exists by Him and for Him. Col 1:15-22
-- the church {GK=ekklesia, called out assembly, called out ones} -
consists of individuals, who, through faith in Christ, have been...
to God the Judge of all - In v.22-24, everyone gathered around Him is at peace. (Contrast v.18-21)
There is no veil of separation, no cloud of darkness, no fear and trembling in His Presence.
For these assembled ones, the matter of sin has been fully disposed, by their Savior.
Having been made righteous, they stand justified before the Judge. Rom 5:1
to the spirits of just {righteous} men made perfect {finished, complete}.-
The men of faith, of prior ages (eg., ch.11), who did not receive the promised inheritance, during their earthly lifetimes, stand spiritually complete and satisfied in His Presence.
     The saints, who died waiting for God's Salvation, have already entered into the spiritual reality (eg., 2Cor 5:1-8; Php 1:21-23). However, the physical promises, to Israel, await Christ's return to earth, to establish His Millennial Kingdom (eg., Jer 23:5-8; Dan 12:13; Rev 20:4).
12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant,
See Note at Heb 8:6.
new {GK= neos, young, youthful, recently brought forth}
In all other NT occurrences of "New Covenant" or "New Testament" another word is used for 'new' {GK=kainos, a new kind, unprecedented, novel}. eg., Heb 8:6-13; 9:15
     Here, that 'new kind' of covenant which Christ secured historically by His blood, having been 'newly implemented,' has begun to blossom with blessing (and will increasingly continue to do so), for those to whom it applies.
and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than [that of] Abel.
the blood...
  • of Abel - cried out from the ground for vengeance (God's wrath) against sin. Gen 4:8-12
  • of Abel's lamb - could not take away sins,
    but it spoke of the (then future) coming of the Lamb of God. (see Note at Heb 11:4)
  • of Christ - cries out "It is finished" (Joh 19:30),
    secures God's mercy, puts away sin, and purifies the sinner. Heb 9:14; 10:22
12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh.
For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth,
much more [shall not] we [escape],
if we turn away from him that [speaketh] from heaven:
refuse not {GK=paraiteomai, lit., to ask aside, to decline, to beg off}
(Elsewhere translated: intreated, v.19; to make excuse, Luk 14:18,19.)
they escaped not - The Israelites, in shrinking from the voice of Him who gave the Law (v.19),
could avoid neither their obligation to obey, nor the consequences of disobedience.
much more... we - Our obligation is far greater, because
we have been privileged to receive much fuller revelation. God Himself has spoken to us, in the Person of His Son (Heb 1:1-3) and in the power of His blood (v.24).
we shall not escape, if we turn away - Heb 2:2-4; 10:26,27
12:26 Whose voice then shook the earth: {ie., at Mt. Sinai, v.18-21; Ex 19:18,19}
but now he hath promised, saying, {quoting from Hag 2:6,7}
Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. {cp. Mat 24:29,30}
12:27 And this [word], Yet once more {ie., once more only},
signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made,
that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.
The earth shook and men trembled when God gave the Law at Mt. Sinai. At that time, He declared His standard of righteousness, but in mercy, He did not fully enforce it.
     Today, His Law is ignored and violated by fallen men on earth and by fallen angels in high places (eg., Eph 6:12). But the day will come, when everything that offends His holiness will be shaken out of His entire realm.
things that are shaken... as of things... made -
Eventually, the whole creation will be so shaken that it will be created anew (2Pet 3:10-13). However, the passage before us is more concerned with the governance of God's creatures, than with the physical creation.
     The word "made" (GK=poieo, to do, to bring forth) does not mean "created," but rather, refers to things "done" in the earth, whether by God or by His creatures.
     God purposed for man to "do" His will, but men have chosen to do otherwise. God desires to "work" His will in the hearts of men, but He waits for them to yield to Him (cp. Heb 13:20,21).
     Everything done under the sun will be tested against His standard (v.29; Eccl 11:9,10).
shakeable things, which will be removed - include:
the ungodly world system (Isa 2:12-22; Rev 14:8; 16:17-19), corruption of every kind (Rev 21:8).
unshakeable things, which will remain - include:
God in three Persons (Heb 1:8-12; see the Tri-Unity in Heb 9:14), His Word (Mat 24:35), His Kingdom and His people (v.28; Isa 2:1-5; Rev 11:15; 21:1-7).
12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved,
let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
we receiving a kingdom - The King who reigns for ever is Jesus Christ (Isa 9:6,7; Rev 11:15).
Having been joined to Him by faith (v.22-24), we will reign with Him (Rev 1:4-6; 5:9,10).
We are those who have received (not refused) God's word (eg. v.25; Gal 2:16; Heb 11:1-4).
let us have {hold} grace...- cp. Heb 10:23
Here, 'grace' {GK=charis} can refer to 'thankfulness' for the privilege of serving Christ, and-or the spiritual 'enablement' to do so.
whereby we may serve God acceptably... with reverence and godly fear.-
Serving God is something to be taken seriously.
We are not to be 'playing church,' but rather, performing the priestly duties for which Christ has purified us. Heb 9:14; 10:22-25; 13:15
The Author of our Faith is our prime example: Heb 5:7-9
12:29 For our God [is] a consuming fire.
This verse quotes from Deut 4:23,24 and Deu 9:3. The contexts of these passages differ:
In the former, God's wrath is directed against the sin of His people;
in the latter, His wrath consumes His enemies. Both aspects apply, today, also:
For those who refuse His salvation, there remains only eternal fire.
2The 1:8; Heb 10:26-31
For those who belong to Him, the purifying fire of God will purge all that is not of Him.
1Cor 3:11-15; 2Cor 5:10; 1Pet 4:17-19

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