What is Zion?
Hebrews Chapter 12. I’m going to kind of set the tone for where this is going to go as we get in this passage, but today we’re going on a journey and we’re going to say this is not literal, so no exercise needed here. This is a truly metaphorically as it relates to our lives. We’re going to go to a journey and here’s what I want us to do as I want us to take this journey together. I want us to recognize this journey affects all of us in the idea of life. In Hebrews Chapter 12, we’re going to compare two areas of life. We’re going to compare Mount Zion and Mount Sinai and both of those represent something to the Jewish people and both of those should represent something to us.
Sinai is where the Jews received the law, so this picture has a lot to do with religion, their way of thinking and Zion has a lot to do with where God’s presence was made to known in Israel’s history, but now it has come to emulate in the New Testament, God’s presence for us in Christ. For us in this word, we journey to one of these two mountains and I’m going to lay out why that’s true, but we journey into one of those two mountains and our hope and desire for all of us here at Alpine Bible Church is that our steps are towards the journey of experiencing the presence of God in Mount Zion. In fact, we don’t make any apology for what our pursuit is. It’s Jesus running this world. We said our Church exists for you to experience a transforming relationship in Jesus that transforms your relationships for Jesus.
We come to the door, we know that God desires your heart and we want to make the Lord known so that you can know him as He has created you to know Him in this world. Our desire is to live in Zion and in light of that to walk towards in this life and really to enjoy that journey together, but there are things that always pull us and tag us towards Mount Sinai and what it represents. In fact, if you think about this 1st Century Chapter 12, the author has called the believers in this chapter to run the race set before them, what Jesus has done. We’ve looked at this all in Hebrews that Jesus has accomplished all of the pictures of the Old Testament.
Hebrews is a beautiful book that ties all of the Scriptures together and showing the culmination and fulfillment of all of Scripture in Jesus Himself. Everything points to Christ. In fact, Luke 24 when Jesus thought people, he said “All of it points to me.” It’s all about Jesus and looking for Him. In the 1st Century, there was a hesitation to following those steps because in pursuing Jesus, there’s persecution, there’s hardship. You could be alienating yourself from your culture. In fact, for a Jewish person to walk towards Jesus and away from their culture, they’re alienating themselves from their own people. This is not an easy journey especially on your own. When we talk about Mount Sinai in Jewish culture 1st Century, their religion is wrapped up in their culture, so you can’t really separate the two.
We talk about Sinai very much in Scripture has a lot to do with religious way of thinking law in the Jewish context but also has to do with culture and we’re kind of foreign a lot of Jewish concept and Scripture way of living. We don’t particularly shape our society that way. I know that we live in a Judeo-Christian society that sort of has the culture implications of that, but we’re on the backside of that now. We’re post-Christian in our society, but I think Sinai for us if I just broaden its perspective it’s anything that you go to that shapes your worth, value and meaning and why you choose to live life the way that you do. You can get your identity and the culture things of this world and they could have religious identity.
That’s a choice, that’s that mountain, that’s what we can move toward or we can get our identity in the one who created us and the purpose and desire for Him to make Himself known to us, to the Way of the Cross and that becomes Zion to us. God made Himself known. His presence has become real. In John, when Jesus appears in Chapter 1, He said, “We have grace upon grace.” This journey for us this morning and looking at these passages of Scripture to recognize God calls us into a relationship with Him and we’re all in this journey together. We want to walk this journey.
We can have this tendency and look at this passage to juxtapose religion versus religion in this and saying, “You kind of belong to other religion and so here you are in our Church this morning and this our religion,” but I don’t want to look at it at that way. I don’t think that’s what this invitation is at all. I think for us, this is a calling into relationship with Jesus and saying, “Where are you in this journey?” Our heart is for you to know Christ. It may be that you are part of ABC and there’s a community here to encourage you in that and that’s healthy thing, but the thing that drives it all is Jesus. Where are you in Jesus? If you come in this morning and this is all you ever hear and you walk out and you choose not to be a part of our Church, God be with you on that, but I could tell you regardless of wherever you are, our desire is to know where you are in Jesus.
We want to walk this journey together toward Zion, toward what God communicates in this passage of Scripture, everything in this world, the culture religiously, whatever, anything can pull us away from view which Christ calls us to and the author in the very broad sense in pronouncing that his voice saying specifically to this Jewish culture in the 1st Century, he is now going back after calling him to run the race and he’s seeing a hesitation in him to take this journey and so he starts in Hebrews 12:18, “For you have not come to a mountain that can produce and to a blazing fire and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind and to the blast of trumpet and sound of words which with sound was such as those who heard beg that no further word be spoken to them.”
He’s talking about Mount Sinai and all that took place there and the representation to the Jews. I’ll explain that a little bit more here in the moment, but in Verse 20, “For they could not bear the command if even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned,” and so terrible was the sight that Moses said, “I am full of fear and trembling,” but now he compares that to Zion, and he says, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the City of the Living God, The Heavenly Jerusalem, to myriads of angels and to the general assembly and to the church of the firstborn, who enrolled in the Heaven and to God the Judge of all and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant and to the sprinkling blood which speaks better than the blood of Abel.”
A lot to be said there on those first verses, but let’s just position in the way it is said in these first couple of verses, Verse 18 to 21, Mount Sinai and everything it represents and the Mount Zion and everything that it represents and it’s talking about us now running this race. What is it you’re pursuing? What is it you’re running toward? How do you move forward? I think us people, we’re always looking for something to believe in, something to hope in. I think in the Gospel of Luke in Chapter 24, Strangers on the road to Emmaus, this is three days after the crucifixion of Jesus, they find themselves on the road and they had thought that Jesus was the Messiah or The Promised One, the one that would deliver people, the one that brought this hope, the hope that we look for.
On this road now, they’re trying to deal with what has rocked their lives. It was the crucifixion of their leader. How do you respond? It tells us in Luke 24:21, Jesus actually appears to them and resurrected. Only they don’t know it’s Jesus and they asked Him a question and wonders why they were so devastated and they said, “But we were hoping that it was He who is going to redeem Israel,” looking for hope. As you look at these two passages of Scripture, you’d see this idea of Sinai in the Hebrews Chapter 12 and to the Jewish people, that became what their identity was and this religious living that created the culture of which they are a part of and everything that were invested in the identity that was represented here, they saw it as an end in itself, but what God is communicating to us that this was simply a means to an importance of greater hope that was to come, so he positions Sinai and Zion, recognizing in life that our culture manifest hopes to us and can often sell a short in His promises or He does sell a short in His promises.
This comparison is being made to Sinai and the things that we hope in into what Zion represents. Sinai and Zion are way of contrasting in your Bible really the Old and New Testament. Sinai represents the law, old covenant, Old Testament, God coming to his people Israel after they were brought of the Egyptian captivity as slaves. He meets them on Sinai. He delivers the law. Zion represents God’s kingdom, new covenant, New Testament, relational, grace living in Christ. In fact, Zion translates the sunny mountain as the place where God shined on his people, as a place where the temple dwelled, where God’s presence was made known on Earth.
It came to be used in synonymous with Jerusalem. You have the earthly temple, Zion, where God dwelled with his people, but the City of Jerusalem was seen this way and now 1st Century Judaism, something is about take place here where God is going to bring or allow persecution to exist in the city. It’s going to devastate their identity. The temple is going to be destroyed. There’s going to be a temple no more. There hasn’t been a temple since this point, but Zion is where God’s presence dwell. You lose that identity as a culture when it’s destroyed. It’s a question in their lives and our hearts, where’s your hope? How can you move towards Zion and away from Sinai?
We think about in terms of temple, remember we’ve seen this together in Scripture that the Bible has told that, “God no longer dwells in temples,” and in Mark Chapter 15, Jesus said, “I’ll destroy these days. In three days, I’ll rebuild it,” and it tells us in Mark 15 where he says that the temple veil was torn from top to bottom symbolizing that God’s presence was no longer in that temple, but Jesus rather said that He was the temple in Mark 14:58 and then He goes further and He says that, “Now Christ dwells in you.” Galatians 2:20, First Corinthian 3:16 and 6:19, “And because Christ dwells in you, that His presence is no longer in the building and the temple in the Jerusalem and but now you have become that temple.” Zion now metaphorically is more than just this physical place.
It’s the presence of God and where it’s making its Self known in our lives and by comparison of this temple, remember Zion is this place where God’s presence is, but Sinai is also God’s presence but in a different way. It’s representing the holiness of God’s, Zion the grace of God and Sinai the holiness of God. In fact in Exodus Chapter 20 is where they get their statements and Hebrews Chapter 12 when they’re describing Sinai and look what it says, Chapter 20 Verse 18, “All the people perceive the thunder and the lightning and the flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking and when the people saw, they trembled and stood at distance. They said to Moses, ‘Speak to us, yourselves, and we will listen, but let not God speak to us or we will die.'” That’s holiness made known on Sinai. God’s grace made known in Zion.
You contrast these two positions in life. Sinai, they had to go up to be with God as Zion, God came down to be with us in flesh. Sinai was a mount of captivity. Zion is a place of Promised Land and freedom. Sinai is about fear and darkness and trembling. Zion is about hope and light and joy. Sinai is about law and judgment and Zion is about grace and forgiveness. Sinai is about religion and Zion is about The Gospel. Sinai is about “I obey and therefore I’m accepted” and Zion is about “I’m accepted and therefore I obey.” We stand between these mountains, recognizing the journey for which God calls us in the way in which culture might beckon us. Just like the strangers in the road to Emmaus wondering how to find hope, lost between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday or Easter and Jesus shows up in their lives.
You think about Sinai just a little deeper, I think it’s significant for us just to consider exactly what these words are saying because we will never walk toward Zion until we understand the magnitude of Sinai. In Verse 18, this is the way it was described, “For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, to the blast of the trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such as those who heard beg that no further word be spoken in them for they could not bear the command of even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned.” You heard in Exodus Chapter 20 what the people said, “Moses, you go but we’re going to stay right here.” You see that glorious presence of this holy God consuming this mountain.
Sometimes God just gives you good examples because you think in the way it is described there you say to yourself, “Where have I ever seen a blazing fire in darkness and gloom and whirlwind with smoke that encapsulates the mountains? My Lord, I don’t know how I can relate to this and you just look outside your window over the last few days.” Could you imagine? How about we go up this mountain together? How about this journey? Who wants to go to the top of that sucker with me? I’ll say a little tongue-in-cheek we certainly want to pray for those that are being affected in this valley by all the result of the fires, but the description of that, the description of Hebrews Chapter 12 looks a lot like this, doesn’t it? The mountain consumed.
I could see on the other end with Moses trying to explain these to people, “Look, guys. If you go up on the mountain, your face will glow,” or, “You can go on the mountain. Trust me. I’ve been near this God. He had this bush on fire, but he didn’t burn the bush. This is different kind of fire. Let’s go on this mountain together and like we’re not touching this sucker with a 10-foot pole.” “How about you go and you just come back and report to us.” It’s demonstrating the holiness of God. The law of God that was delivered to his people and the standard of God’s holiness representing this law. The writer is asking, is there where you want to find your worth, value and meaning? Is there were you want to find your identity? Do you want come from the backend of that? Judgment?
If you ask practical sense in our culture, our culture today, we ask people, where do you find your worth, value and meaning and a lot of people attribute it to the things that they do, to the possession that they have, the beauty they carry and the only problem of finding worth, value and meaning and things like that is, what happens when someone else has more than you or what happens when you can’t do or you lose those things that you consider so precious? How valuable are you or what happens if you go through something in life where you were just physically not able to do anymore? Does that diminish your worth, value and meaning? It’s a bankrupt system. If you think in terms of religious ways of thinking, we compare it like this at our Church.
When we consider laws of land, like religion has law, so you can relate to laws of your land, when you live in light of the laws of your land, if a cop ever pulls you over and God bless police officers, but if a cop ever pulls you over, it doesn’t happen like this. He pulls you over and he’s like, “You know, I saw you up the street and I just want to pull you over and just say, ‘Congratulations on the obedience of the law. You are at 100%.'” No, that doesn’t happen with police officers. That’s not their purpose. When the law exists, you break the law, the pull you over and tell you what the violation is. It’s not about freedom. It’s about captivity.
When God was giving the law on Sinai, he’s demonstrating His Holiness and the people are coming as like, “I’m not getting near this.” It’s to say to live your life to say that you can attain what God is calling you through this law. It’s not about freedom. Condemnation. I get the writer’s saying here, “Are you sure this is what you want to live for? Are you sure this is what you want to go to?” There is comfort in religion. I mean you know what the expectations are. You can hear the list. You don’t live up to the standards. It doesn’t necessitate that God has really changed your heart. I mean you can live for God on Sunday and live like hell on Monday. This passage what it said even in Verse 21 is it even relates to Moses.
Moses, when you think about his face glowed and look at why Moses responds on Verse 21, “And so terrible was the sight that Moses said, ‘I am full of fear and trembling.'” When you think about God in this context and religious setting and saying you can avail to him according to His holiness and standards, Moses is saying, “Even I am afraid,” and this word for fear is not like that you read on Proverb 1:7 which says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” and there’s a reverential, “All of who got is that we respond to,” that’s a healthy respect to his position over us, but this word for fear is not that word. This word for fear is more like phobia. It’s paralyzing. I am not moving an inch here.
When Moses was talking about this type of fear, it’s actually in Deuteronomy 9 when Moses comes down off the mountain with The Commandments and he sees the people having already turned away from his God-living life of debauchery and he was only gone for a few days and Moses now being in the presence of His Holy God is severely concerned for what God is about to do with these people. His holiness made known on this mountain and they don’t want to get near and you contrast that to the way that we talk about holiness today. I think in our culture today religion is a lot like karma. Honestly, the 1950s version of Hellfire in Brimstone is I think we’ve substituted with the word karma. In a karma society, usually when we talk about ourselves in karma we think that we do the certain religious law and God owes us something.
God doesn’t owe us anything by the way, that God owes us and so we live karma that way, but then when we typically talk about karma especially on social media, it’s usually not in a positive way. It’s like, “I hope you get your karma.” We’re just talking about karma like the Hellfire in Brimstone. Like, “God give me grace please and bring them karma!” We usually say it in that negative context, but when we think in terms of this Holy Mountain, this is what it’s representing in the identity of God, that God is a just God and perfection is his standard. Religion tends to leave out this law and avoids Zion altogether because it’s the insufficiency of Jesus, saying, “I don’t need Jesus. God just simply wants me to be good, just to live these rules, and you can live rules apart from Jesus. We don’t need Jesus in that context because you don’t understand the need for Jesus in life.”
But you compare religious law, sometimes we come to this type of thought, “What’s the point of law? If God gave the law as holiness in the law, what’s the point of the law?” I’ll tell you there’s a lot of beautiful passages of Scripture that helps us understand that. Romans Chapter 3, Romans 7 I think are good passages. One of my favorites is Galatians Chapter 3. Look at this, Verse 21, “Is the law contrary to the promises of God?” You cannot throw the law under the bus. It says it may never be. “For a law had been given though which could impart life, then righteousness would have been indeed based on the law.” It’s like saying, “Look, the law is good because it shows the holiness of God. We see the consuming fire that is our God.”
Though honestly, it becomes a very place where we find protection because God will judge sin and if you find yourself on the good side of righteousness, you’re under his protection from it all. The law is good thing and that it demonstrates for us the holiness of God, but it can impart life. Religious living doesn’t impart life. It’s only condemnation like the police officer don’t pull you and tell you, “Good job.” I hope he does a good job, but it’s not pulling you over for that purpose. It’s for condemnation. You owe. Same thing with Holy God. I think in the standards of Holy God, when it comes to Holy God and violating his law as his creature, we owe but in Verse 22, “But the Scriptures have shut up everyone under sin, so it’s as to say, “We can’t come to this religious way of thinking and say, “Look God, good enough?”
He’s going to say, “No,” so that the promises by faith in Christ might be given to those who believe. Therefore, the law has become for us a tutor to lead us to Christ. So we look at Sinai, we’re like, “No, I can’t live there.” It’s the exact response by people, “I can’t go up that mountain,” but Jesus offers peace and grace and reconciliation and forgiveness. The law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ so that we may be justified by faith, but now that faith has come we are no longer looked under a tutor under the law, so the author is contrasting this.
When you really see the magnitude of what Sinai is, some people look at God and they ask the question, “How can a good God send people to help? But I want us to know in light of looking at that mountain, the question isn’t, how can a good God send people to hell? The real question to ask when you think about Sinai is, how can a Holy God allow you into Heaven? The perfection of who he is is what drives us to the beauty of Zion and the middle of this God, His Holiness, he still pursues me and He gave His life for me. This isn’t religion versus religion. This is leaving Sinai behind and coming to Jesus in relationship. In Christianity today, we talk about having a relationship with God and that’s a good thing, but can I just add a little emphasis to that?
When we talk about having a relationship with God, I think it is important to understand that we want a reconciled relationship with God. To understand the law of Sinai, we are condemned, but on the freedom of Jesus, we are forgiven. That reconciled relationship with God is important because, listen, every person on Earth has a relationship with God, but it just so happens if you live in life of Zion apart from Jesus, you’re not going to want that relationship. All of us will see God face to face and when we see the significance of Sinai and what it represents, it leans the heart to the grace of God and what he brings forth for us in Zion, so when you think about Zion, this is what it says, Verse 22, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the City of the Living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem and to myriad of angels, to the general assembly and the church of the firstborn who are enrolled in the Heave and God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect and to Jesus, mediator of new covenant and the sprinkle of blood which speaks better blood than Abel.”
What is that talking about? For us Zion is defined in Verse 22, if you want to know a good picture of Zion, he uses different words to attribute here, Zion or the City of The Living God, The Heavenly Jerusalem where myriad of angels are, so it’s saying it’s no longer a physical place on Earth that’s about to be destroyed. Now it’s representing the heavenly picture which Jesus came to ultimately fulfill. All of it was simply a shadow of what Jesus would do for us, so we think of Zion, it’s heavenly. It’s where God’s presence is. In Verse 23, to the general assembly, the church of the firstborn. This is to God’s people who enrolled in Heaven to the Judge of All, to the spirits of the righteous made perfectly.
God would make us righteous. So what is he’s talking about when it says, there’s general assembly, there’s church of the firstborn? What is a firstborn? We’ve been in history now for a long time and no one here is going to claim I am the firstborn. What in the world is a firstborn it was talking about? Well, firstborn doesn’t have in Scripture, sometimes it can but it doesn’t always have to do with the priority of birth. Like, you can have a firstborn kid, but oftentimes when Scripture talks about the firstborn, it has to do with the birthright. In fact, if you want to example of it I would say in Psalm 89:27, King David is about to appoint his son, Solomon, as king.
Solomon is not the firstborn of David’s household, but he’s referred to as the firstborn because he’s going to take the birthright as king. It’s attributing to you what belongs to this king and his kingdom. It’s calling your family, your kingdom in which you belong. It’s saying in this verse that this Heavenly Jerusalem is where you have been called to and that God Christ has become the mediator now of this new covenant. It’s described as new covenant, it’s the Old Testament is another way of saying old covenant. It was all about all, showing us our need for Jesus and now Jesus has come in that need and he’s paid for the law that condemned us.
He’s paid the penalty, the speeding ticket, the much more worse than that you owe to God. The Bible tells us the wages of sin is death, meaning the payment that you owe is death and death doesn’t just mean go to grave. It means separated from God. Jesus has paid for that ticket. He took your place that you can live in light of that relationship now that he has reconciled you to through the cross, so he is the mediator of the go between now, this new covenant for you and the sprinkling of blood which speaks better than the blood Abel. It’s kind of weird to think that blood speaks. He talks about this as being the sprinkling of blood. This is a beautiful picture in Scripture because God in the Old Testament, he created these systems of worship that identify our need for Jesus, so that when Jesus came we would turn to him.
On September 19th which I think is Wednesday of this coming week is Yom Kippur for the Jews. Yom Kippur is an important religious holiday. They bring two goats to the temple. The first goat they would sacrifice. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin because life is in the blood. They would sacrifice an animal and the spilling of its blood is a foreshadowing of the sacrifice Jesus would ultimately play for us, a reminder of what sin, which is death, and our need for rescue in Jesus. On Yom Kippur, they would bring two goats. They would sacrifice the first one and Jesus became our sacrifice on the cross. He became the go between. It’s why he settled on the cross to tell us that he paid in full, it is finished.
The price for you has been paid, the ticket has been covered, but then they would also take the other goat and they would cast their sins on this goat, they would lay their hands upon his head and they would confess the sins of all the people and then they would cast this goat out into the wilderness away to show how God must cast our sin away from us in order to be able to come before his presence on that Holy Mountain. When John introduced Jesus in The Gospels, John the Baptist is on the Jordan River and he’s baptizing. In John 1:29, he sees Jesus coming and he gives this pronouncement. He says, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away or cast away the sins.” John’s pronouncement is Yom Kippur.
Jesus’s blood sprinkled for you, Jesus becoming the mediator of Sinai so that you can experience Zion, between the cross of Christ and the resurrection of hope, that’s where we stand. In Luke Chapter 24, the strangers on the road to Emmaus is trying to figure how to deal with this cross thing. They’re sending between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, Easter Sunday. What do we do with this? We’ve seen the system which we’ve been a part of or we’re hoping a bankrupt and we’re just trying to figure out how to adjust to what we found out and not knowing that they’re talking to Jesus and then it says at the end of this verse to explain us, what’s this blood sprinkling means.
It says, “It speaks better than the blood of Abel.” What in the world is that talking about? When in Scripture, when you read about the blood of Abel, it says in the Bible that Abel’s blood when Cain killed Abel, Abel’s blood cried out to God and what did it cry? It cried for justice. It cried for God’s wrath. To Cain, it cried out shame and guilt and death and rejection and despise and sinful and distant from God and defeated, words of the kingdom of darkness. What’s Jesus’s blood cried out? More specifically, what is Jesus’s blood cried out for you? Pain in full, ransom, redeemed, forgiven, loved, near to Him, made new, restored, covered, living as firstborn
Remember if you look at this passage what this section of Scripture is about, it’s contrasting these two ideas, Verse 18, For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind that is not where God calls you. You see the need for Jesus in that mountain of holiness of who God is, but here’s where he calls you, look at what he says, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the City of the Living God,” that blood of Jesus speaking over you, the heavenly Jerusalem to the myriad of angels.” This is where your identity is shaped and look at how it says, “This is where you come.” In Jesus, this is where you are. Maybe thinking these two worlds we can ask the question.
What do you choose to walk in or toured in the reality to those two kingdoms, Sinai of shame, guilt, rejection, despise or Zion of forgiven, loved, redeemed, made new? What separates us from Jesus? What do we take in his place? What is our substitute for Christ? What is our Sinai? How do you experience Zion? That’s what Verse 22 says. You come to Zion and you come in this morning. In relationship with God, you’ve come to experience Zion. I am telling you, this morning you can experience the Lord. I mean you think about, just how in the world do you experience His Presence? How did your morning started? You woke, you’ve got dressed.
If you’re a dad, you got kids dressed. If you’re a mom, you got kids dressed and you managed to match them and you didn’t forget to feed them and then you get in the car and you just start the car and you see that it’s low on fuel. You’re like, “How are we going to make it? Hey, kids. Pray we make it this morning. We’re already running late.” And you give yourself a little pat, already pointing your finger to God, but you’re kind of cruising this morning, two minutes late, [slipping 00:33:18] in your seat, and now this what we’re talking about experiencing God in Zion. That happened. Well, I think it starts like this. Do you know? I think in our hearts we pause and we look at what Sinai represents God.
We can get every reason to God as to why he shouldn’t care about us. I mean Sinai gives that condemnation, not good enough, can’t live up to the standard. You failed again. I mean you failed five minutes ago. Failed all your kids this morning and you failed your kids yesterday. You failed. You hold all that and then you look to Zion. Jesus says, “I love you. I love you and I’m pursuing you and I’ve given my life to you. I paid for it all. I hang on the cross and I said, ‘Father, forgive them.’ I understand you made new and it’s not about your strength doing this. It’s about me in you.” Do you know him? It’s about Jesus and in knowing him, do you seek to connect with him?
When you look at Zion, you see all that he has paid for you, the love that has been demonstrated and within us it should be this yearning to say, “Look, I don’t even want that old mountain blazing fire. I want this forgiveness and grace and experience which He has called me to Him, you move in them.” I find interesting in our culture, never in history we have the Bible so available as we do today and he asked the people what they think about God and it just chalked it up to some spiritual experience foreign to any Scripture communicates about them.
It’s like this, when people have opinions all over Planet Earth about God and whatever else, Jesus wrote one word and he wrote that word so that we didn’t mistake his identity. Do you know him? Do you connect with him? Do you discover him and His Word on the strangers on the road to Emmaus in Chapter 24 Verse 21 when they were like, “We don’t know what to do with this. We have hope in this Messiah. He failed us.” They’re saying this to Jesus and then it tells us right after that Jesus starts to teach them how through all of Scriptures, everything pointed to him and then after the fact, he revealed himself to them. When you think about God, I want to know you and Jesus thinks about, “They need to know me.”
He starts to connect him to his word that they can understand the truth of who He is, Jesus even using His word to do that. We think about connecting to God that it happens in that way as well and I then I think for us too it becomes very tangible. It has become tangible. When you surrender yourself to him, you respond in a way of worship. I think what we do as a group here is it allows us to experience God. I mean if you think of these two positions this morning, we’re talking religiously, Sinai, culture, whatever that brings and just leaving that in Jesus, and if you come today and you’re like, “Man, I’m trying to think that step, but I’m certain about that Jesus thing.” Can I tell you? For us, this is a journey together.
If you have any questions about Church, the way we do things as a community, how we worship, we’re intentional here and we’re open. We understand that we need people to come along side us and help us all to take those steps together. What we do here becomes important. I’ll tell you for me even for me personally, I’m approachable. There is no question that’s going to knock me off my socks. No question that is not welcome. You can ask me anything as personal as you want. Ask me how much I make. The most personal question that you can think of, whatever that might be and I’ll give you the answers as we’re driving around in my Porsche. I’m kidding. That Porsche is now a 2004 Suzuki. It’s not going to be that impressive.
Here’s why. We want you to know Jesus. Any encumbrance, any hesitation, any obstacle, we’ve all faced them and we all face them from Sinai to Zion. What we do here this morning is a reflection of experiencing that Zion. I realize this is all heavenly as we talk about this and ultimately it’s fulfilled heavenly, but the greatest miracle God ever worked in history is the crucifixion and resurrection. That’s the greatest event in all of his history, but here’s the cool thing about that as it relates to today, it ties to you. The greatest event in history is for you. It ties to you, and so if you think about the context of us as people, God made us in His image and the cross is saying now He remakes us because sin has separated us.
Not only did He make us in His image, but He’s also remaking you in His image and so when we serve and act in him, we’re walking miracles of this redeeming hand of God. It’s saying to us literally that your heart is the place where Heaven and Earth have collided. Scripture says Jesus is the head and guess who’s the body? The Church. You’re walking miracles in the grace of God. What Jesus has done in you should be a reflection out from you. Every interaction that you have this morning is so precious in the eyes of God because you’re a living miracle of the cross that still moves in history in your lives, the place where Heaven and Earth has now collided because you become a living temple and His presence dwells in you.
How do you experience Zion? That you live it. You live it in a way that you seek Jesus and giving your life holistically for him and loving the people around you as God has called you to love. I’ll close with the story. We’ve been ending with a little bit of church history for us to tie this in to a way God has written His story throughout history. We’ve talked about Church leaders and their effects, but one of the things I want to look at this morning is talk about a little bit about cultures is that of painting because painting reflects culture. If you want to know the direction of culture is really heading, look at its art. Its arts communicates what it values and that demonstrates the direction that it’s going.
If you look in the 1600, you see a lot of art that reflects the Lord and some of the paintings during the 1600s that were made was by a man named, Rembrandt, which by the way, if anyone here owns a Rembrandt, I would appreciate if you called me your best friend. I found the cheapest Rembrandt painting is $5 million. I will help you sell it. Just kidding! Rembrandt is a well-known artist, but when you see his work in 1600s and you see his life, his life was a mess. Rembrandt’s life was a mess and in the end of his life, he’s really in destitute. He saw some hardship in his life. He had some struggles in his life. His wife passed away. His kid passed away. He ends up really in poverty towards the end of his life and Rembrandt’s life was a struggle, but I feel like we reflect a lot of Rembrandt in our own lives.
When you look at all these people in Church history, a lot of them did a lot of credible things, but really if you want to find out what posse rolls is probably more Rembrandt than anybody because this guy, he struggled between Sinai and Zion. In fact, when he painted this picture of Jesus on the cross, he was the farthest to include himself at the bottom of Jesus’s feet raising the cross as if he held responsibility in his crucifixion. Rembrandt saw himself as condemned before our Holy God. The interesting thing about Rembrandt is the year he died he also painted his last painting, a very beautiful picture that I think illustrates where God is in all of our lives. He painted the picture of The Prodigal Son.
This is all of us. We will never go to Jesus and Zion until we see our need for Jesus sitting at the foot of Sinai. His Holiness screams our need for forgiveness and here is the beauty of The Prodigal Son, God’s ready to give at any moment. He and the story of The Prodigal Son, Luke 15, son takes his inheritance from his father before his father even died, he goes and squanders it and everything in the world that could give him worth, value and meaning and finds himself bankrupt and he says to himself, “I wonder how my father will receive me? Got nowhere else to go. I’m eating with pigs at this point,” and Jews do not get near pigs based on that low in life and he said, “I’m going to take the risk. I’m going to go to my father and see.”
The story tells us something is interesting about The Prodigal Son that when the son appears over the ridge on his journey home, the father sees him and his father does something that man of his age didn’t do at that time. He not only is happy to see his son, but he runs towards him. He embraces him and he throws an outlandish party in celebration that his son has returned. I think Rembrandt at the end of his life saw his life much like The Prodigal Son. God’s grace, new every morning. God wants this picture for us. There is a battle for our souls between Sinai and Zion and God has made his grace known to you that you may delight in him, not because of what you do, but because of what he has done. May we journey together to Zion.