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:


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.


Listen again to the first half of these verses. “You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 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, because they could not bear what was commanded: ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.’ The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear.’” The question that these verses set before the Hebrews was simple. Where were they going to meet with God? Would they meet him at a mountain of fear or a mountain of faith?

If a person wants to meet with God at Mt. Sinai he or she can expect certain things. There the holiness of God will make anyone tremble in fear. If you are not completely holy in all that you say, and do, and think you will die as soon as you take one step toward the LORD at Mt. Sinai. His perfection, his purity, his righteousness can tolerate nothing less than equal perfection, purity, and righteousness in those who come to him. A person would have to be blind to his or her true nature to try to meet with God on those terms. For these Hebrew Christians Mt. Sinai could only be a mountain of fear. There was no hope for a relationship with God there.

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Michael Trask

commented on Aug 21, 2007

Great exegesis...very helpful approach. Thanks

Dawn Mooring

commented on Nov 25, 2014

Great message!!!

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