Summary: The two mountains mentioned in these verses direct us to examine the basis of our relationship with God. Do we attempt to interact with him at Mt. Sinai or Mt. Zion?
“Ararat, Moriah, Sinai, Nebo, Gerizim, Ebal, Carmel, Zion. Those are just a few of the many mountains mentioned in the Bible. What happened at Mt. Ararat? Noah’s ark came to rest there. You may remember that on Mt. Moriah the Lord provided a substitute sacrifice to take the place of the one he asked Abraham to make. There Abraham found a ram caught in a thicket and he sacrificed it to God instead of his son Isaac. What happened at Mt. Sinai? That is where God gave the Ten Commandments and forged a covenant with his people. From the top of Mt. Nebo Moses was allowed to see the Promised Land before he died. After the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land the mountains Gerizim and Ebal served as a sort of amphitheater where the people spoke antiphonally the blessings and curses of the covenant God had made with them. Later in the history of God’s people Elijah had a showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Remember how the LORD sent fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifice, the altar, and the water that had been poured over them both. Mt. Zion was the mountain on which much of the city of Jerusalem was built.
Again and again mountains played an important part in God’s interaction with his people. In the verses that we will consider in our sermon this morning we hear about two mountains. These two mountains will allow us to focus on the relationship that God has formed with us through his Son Jesus. We will be encouraged in our worship and praise. We will be motivated in the life of faith we live for God. To lead us to that goal I want you to consider one question:
WHERE DO YOU MEET WITH GOD?
I. At a mountain of fear like Mt. Sinai?
II. Or at a mountain of faith like Mt. Zion?
Since this Letter to the Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians they would have been very familiar with the two mountains that I just mentioned. Did you notice that the inspired writer didn’t even name the first mountain? All the Hebrews needed to hear was the description of the mountain and they knew which one it was.
It was Mt. Sinai that was “burning with fire” and covered in “darkness, gloom and storm” when God met with his people there. At Mt. Sinai the ancestors of these Hebrew Christians heard “a trumpet blast” and “a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them.” Even Moses was “trembling with fear” when God showed his glory at Mt. Sinai.
The writer then went on to describe another mountain with which the Hebrews were equally familiar. Mt. Zion was in Jerusalem. Since these Jewish Christians had faith in Jesus as their Savior they also understood that Mt. Zion represented the new covenant relationship that God had made with them. It was a symbol of their eternal home in heaven.
So what point was the writer to the Hebrews trying to make with this comparison between Mt. Sinai and Mt. Zion? Was this just a review of Biblical geography and Bible history? No. These Jewish Christians were under extreme pressure to give up their faith in Jesus and return to Judaism. If they did that they would be going back to the false belief that their relationship with God depended on their keeping his Commandments. That approach would lead them to a mountain of fear like Mt. Sinai. These verses encouraged them to remain at the mountain of faith were God had led them. Faith in God’s promises is here represented by Mt. Zion.