Summary: Once again in this text, we find the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant. The writer makes a distinction between two great mountains in the Bible, Mt. Sinai and Mt. Zion.
THE TWO MOUNTAINS
The key thought of the book of Hebrews is seen in the word “better.” Throughout this book, we have sought to emphasize the superiority of Jesus Christ over the Old Covenant. Jesus is better than the prophets, than the angels, than Moses and Aaron. The New Covenant is better than the Old. Grace is superior to law.
Once again in this text, we find the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old Covenant. The writer makes a distinction between two great mountains in the Bible, Mt. Sinai and Mt. Zion.
I. MT SINAI (18-21)
This of course is a reference to the giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai. Prior to the giving of the Law, the people had to prepare themselves. This is found in Exodus 19. Let’s read a little of this chapter. The writer of Hebrews emphasizes several things about this experience on Mt. Sinai.
A. Mt. Sinai was a physical place: It was a literal, tangible mountain that could be touched. On the other hand, Mt. Zion, though an actual place in South East Jerusalem, was symbolic of a spiritual place as we shall see. God revealed His awesome glory and His Moral Law on Mt Sinai. At Mt Zion he revealed his grace.
B. Mt. Sinai was a terrifying place. Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.” There was tire, thunder and lightening, blackness and darkness. The people around Sinai said to Moses, “Speak thou with us and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (Ex. 20:19).
“Fire” symbolized the holiness, righteousness, and purity of God. Man had to be careful in his approach to God, lest he be consumed.
“Blackness and darkness“, symbolized the fact that God was hidden from man’s sight. Under the Old Covenant we could never have a clear picture of God.
“The Temptest or raging storm” symbolized the judgment, the wrath, and the power of God. He was to be feared and reverenced as the Great and Almighty Judge who could exact judgment upon anyone who refused to obey His covenant of Law.
C. Mt. Sinai was an unapproachable place: This signifies that people could not come flippantly into the awesome presence of God. “Don’t come near the mountain.” “Don’t touch it.” “If even an animal touches the mountain, he shall be stoned.”
The Law was given from Mt. Sinai, but the Law can only condemn. It can never save us. The purpose of the law is to show us how badly we need to be Saved. Only the Grace of God in Jesus Christ can save us. The Law drives us to Jesus who is the remedy for sin.
II. MT ZION
How does Mt. Zion differ from Mt. Sinai? The writer is not speaking of the literal Mt. Zion located in Southeast Jerusalem. Rather he is speaking in a spiritual mountain or the heavenly Jerusalem. Our approach to God therefore is a spiritual approach. Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). As those who believe in Jesus we are invited to:
A. SHARE IN HEAVENLY PLACES: Abraham looked for a city whose builder and maker is God. Paul tells us that God raised Christ “from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:20). Moreover God has “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6).