Summary: 4th in series on Hebrews (Section 4). This message emphasizes the power of God by comparing two mountains... Sinai and Zion
4/27/08 – Great Hope: Our God is an Awesome God
Two Mighty Mountains
Mount Sinai and Mount Zion
One is a mountain of law. The other is a mountain of grace. The first leaves us trembling and terrified. The second leaves us falling to our knees in amazement and wonder. What took place at these two mountains serves as a summary statement of the way law and grace operate in our lives every day.
The Book of Hebrews was written to show God’s riches that we now enjoy through grace instead of the struggle to live under the harsh reality of the law. As our study of the book of Hebrews is being concluded, we are strongly reminded in this great chapter our need to be thankful and to worship our Lord. This Sunday I invite you to leave the mountain of law behind forever as you stand on Mount Zion and worship King Jesus.
Mount Sinai – A Mountain of Terror
18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”
These are the verses which describes the terror of this mountain. This mountain was pretty intimidating place.
The phrase, “that can be touched” speaks of this mountain as being a real place. Here is the actual site for the delivery of the law of God to His people. Though, it was a mountain that could be touched as its realness is being described, it could not be touched as the law required. To touch it by human or beast would mean certain death. It was physical mountain of rocky outcroppings and craggy ledges but it was a place of holiness that was way beyond where man would dare to set foot.
Let us consider the sights and sounds of this place on the day the law was given. We turn to the book of Exodus to get an idea of what it was like.
The Sights and Sounds of a Terrible Mountain
16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, 19 and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.
This was the same mountain where Moses had first seen the burning bush. Now he came to this same mountain to receive the covenant through the giving by God of the 10 Commandments.
The text tells of darkness, gloom, billowing smoke and terrible lighting. There were enough things going on that it must have been more terrifying than the scariest of horror films. Josephus speaks not only of very terrible thunderings and lightnings, but of violent storms of wind, which produced exceeding great rains.
There was fire and smoke and the sound of a trumpet as the winds blew through the rocky mountain and the people heard the voice of God. Can you imagine hearing God speak from a mountain filled with such violence and unbridled power that the boulders vibrated with the fury of the storms. It must have looked like the people were standing at the edge of Hell itself.
I remember a time when I visited a friend’s house to stay overnight when I was about 10 years old. His family allowed us to stay up and watch the Twilight Zone. Now, by today’s standards the show is pretty tame – but I was 10 years old and had never been allowed to see a horror movie – for good reason. I still remember the shadows created by the trees outside my friend’s window and the terror I felt as I got up and rode home on my bike at 150 miles an hour pursued by unknown demons, hobgoblins, and gargoyles of every description.
The terror of the people at the foot of this mountain must have been incredible. But the terror is not unnecessary. The terror of this mountain is not an evil terror, but a necessary terror that describes the strength of the law and the power of God.