Hebrews 12:20-29

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

KEEP GOING WHILE PURSUING

PEACE AND HOLINESS

INTRODUCTION:

 

In Hebrews 12:1-17 believers are commanded that they should follow the example of these Old Testament saints and run with patience the race that is set before them; whereas, in 12:18-24 it is seen that God can be approached through Jesus.

 

Therefore, according to Hebrews 12:25-29 , these Hebrews professing faith in Christ but contemplating abandoning Christ and Christianity should not refuse God; or they will not escape.

We see that –

    I.     YOU HAVE NOT COME TO THE LAW – 12:20-21

 

I remind you of Hebrews 12:18-19 which we have already considered –

Hebrews 12:18-1918 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, 19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:

 

Hebrews 12:20 For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart.

 

Verses 20 and 21 form a parenthesis between the teaching in verses 18 and 19, which indicate what professing believers had not come to, and verses 22-24, which indicate what they had come to.

 

For is used to explain.

 

It might instead be emphatic and understood in the sense of indeed or in fact.

 

They could not endure is they were not bearing patiently, they were not enduring, or they were not putting up with.

 

Its tense denotes continuing action in past time.

 

What they were not enduring is that which was commanded.

 

That which was commanded means what was being commanded or what was being ordered.

 

What they could not endure is indicated by and if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned or thrust through with a dart.

 

And if is even if.

 

So much as a beast is simply a wild animal or an animal.

 

Touch implies ever touch or touch even once.

 

The mountain in this context refers to Mt. Sinai.

 

No animal was permitted to touch the mountain, not even a wild animal.

 

It shall be stoned indicates the consequence of a wild animal touching the mountain.

 

The Israelites had no choice but to stone the animal to death or thrust it through with a dart, i.e. it shall be shot down with an arrow or it shall be thrust through with a javelin. They will have to kill the animal.

 

With a dart means with an arrow or with a javelin.

 

Hebrews 12:21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake.

 

Verse 21 continues the parenthetical statement begun in verse twenty.

 

And is emphatic meaning indeed, in fact, yea, verily, or certainly.

 

So terrible means that it was extremely frightful.

 

Was indicates continuing action in past time.

 

The sight is the thing which appeared or the spectacle.

 

As indicated by the italics, that has been supplied by the translators in order to aid the understanding of the English reader. It is understood in the sense of with the result that.

 

What Moses said is I exceedingly fear and quake. Where Moses said this is not clear. It may be referring to Deuteronomy 9:19 where Moses pleaded with the Lord not to destroy Israel after they had made and worshiped the molten or golden calf.

 

I exceedingly fear and quake is I am terrified and trembling.

We also see that –

  II.     YOU HAVE COME TO SALVATION BY GRACE – 12:22-24

 

Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels.

 

Verse 22 returns to the thought of what the believers had come to.

 

It is in contrast to what the believers had not come to in verses 18 and 19.

 

They have not come to the mount that might be touched, meaning the literal Mount Sinai, which was an actual mountain burning with fire.

 

Nor have they come to blackness and darkness and tempest where the sound of the trumpet and the voice of words were heard.

 

These verses mean that they have not come to the law and that they have not come to the things which accompanied the giving of the law.

 

But introduces a strong contrast.

 

Ye are come unto is you have come to or you have approached.

 

Its tense indicates an activity that has occurred in the past with its result continuing on.

 

It implies that they had come to mount Sion and that they remain at Mount Sion.

 

Its tense indicates that the author views his readers as genuinely saved people.

 

Mount Sion is used in contrast to Mount Sinai.

 

Whereas Mount Sinai represents the giving of the law, Mount Sion represents the provision of salvation by the death of Christ on the cross at Calvary.

 

Instead of law, they had received grace.

 

They have not come to the law, but they have come to salvation.

 

And may indicate a continuation of the thought, or it may be emphatic and used in the sense of even or in the more emphatic sense of indeed, certainly, in fact, verily, or yea.

 

Unto the city of the living God implies that these people had come to the place where God Himself was.

 

Living describes God. He is not some dead piece of wood or stone; instead, He is alive eternally. The living God is God the Father.

 

The heavenly Jerusalem is used in apposition to the city of the living God, which means that the city of the living God is the heavenly Jerusalem.

 

Whereas the earthly Jerusalem was characterized by the law, the heavenly Jerusalem is characterized by grace that has brought about salvation.

 

And may continue the idea; but it may instead be the emphatic even or the more emphatic indeed, yea, verily, certainly, or in fact.

 

To an innumerable company of angels is to myriads of angels, to ten thousands of angels, or to a very large number of angels.

 

Hebrews 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.

 

To the general assembly and church of the firstborn continues the thought of what the believers have come to.

 

To the general assembly is to the festal gathering, which is a group gathered together for the celebration of a feast.

 

And is emphatic, meaning even or the more emphatic indeed, in fact, certainly, verily, or yea.

 

(To the) church of the firstborn is (to the) assembly of the firstborn where firstborn is plural and means firstborn ones and refers to saved people.

 

Which are written in heaven is registered (or recorded) in heaven or having been registered (or recorded) in heaven.

 

The tense of written indicates that its action took place in past time with its result continuing on. Thus, these firstborn ones were registered or recorded in the past, and they remain recorded or registered in the present.

 

In heaven tells where the firstborn have been registered or recorded.

 

Hence, the phrase is understood in the sense of to assembly of firstborn ones registered in heaven or to a church of firstborn ones recorded in heaven.

 

To introduces Another to Whom the saved Hebrews are come. It is to God the Judge of all, which refers to God the Father.

 

Although He is the Judge of all, He has committed all judgment to the Son.

 

And to the spirits of just men made perfect is another group which is found where these believers have come.

 

To the spirits of just men implies that these are the spirits of righteous ones, the spirits of just ones, or the spirits of upright ones.

 

Made perfect is understood in the sense that they have been brought to an end, have been brought to the goal, have been brought to completion, or have been brought to accomplishment.

 

In other words, they have been saved and are now perfected.

 

It is interesting that the term spirits is used here. It suggests that these spirits were absent from the body and were now present with the Lord in heaven prior to their return to earth with the Lord Jesus at the rapture when they will receive their resurrection bodies.

 

Hebrews 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

 

And indicates Someone else to Whom these believers had come.

 

To Jesus the mediator of the new covenant is literally to the Mediator of the new covenant, Jesus.

 

Covenant points to the new testament in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ of which Jesus is the Mediator between God and men.

 

And to the blood of sprinkling or the blood that is sprinkled for atonement that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

 

It is the blood of sprinkling that speaketh, i.e. speaks, asserts, or proclaims.

 

Better things . . . than is things that are more prominent than, things that are higher in rank than, things that are preferable to, or things that are better than.

 

As indicated by the italics, that of has been supplied by the translators and indicates that a comparison is being made between the blood of Abel shed by Cain and the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that has been sprinkled in order to atone for the sins of humanity.

 

Thus, that of Abel refers to the blood of Abel which was shed when Cain murdered him.

 

According to Genesis 4:10 , God said, . . . The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.

 

Abel’s blood called for vengeance.

 

By contrast, Christ’s blood speaks of mercy, pardon, forgiveness of sin, and salvation.

Finally, we see readers warned –

 III.     DO NOT REJECT GOD, OR YOU WILL NOT ESCAPE – 12:25-29

 

Hebrews 12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.

 

These Hebrews professing faith in Christ but contemplating abandoning Christ and Christianity should not refuse God; or they will not escape. There will be no escape for anyone who does.

 

God is a consuming fire.

 

Believers must have grace by which they may serve or worship God in an acceptable manner with reverence and godly fear while standing in reverence and awe of Him.

 

See is a command meaning watch out, look out, beware, see to it, or take care.

 

What they are to see to is that ye refuse not him that speaketh.

 

Refuse means decline or reject.

 

Its tense combined with the negative implies these Hebrews professing faith in Christ but contemplating abandoning Christ and Christianity should not refuse God; or they will not escape. It means that they should never refuse or that they should never even begin to refuse.

 

Him that speaketh is the One Who speaks, the One Who proclaims, or the One Who asserts and refers to God the Father Who in these last days spoke to believers by His Son according to Hebrews 1:2 .

 

For introduces the reason these professing believers have been admonished never to refuse this One Who speaks and is understood in the sense of because.

 

If they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth is a simple condition which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true.

 

Inasmuch as it is true that they did not escape, if may be understood in the sense of since or inasmuch as.

 

They refers to the people living at the time Moses gave the law.

 

Escaped not is did not escape.

 

They is further defined as who refused him that spake on earth.

 

Who refused him means who rejected him.

 

Him that spake on earth is the one imparting a revelation, the one who imparts an injunction, or the one giving a warning.

 

On the earth tells where he gave this warning.

 

This is apparently a reference to Moses who spoke the law on the earth.

 

God the Father actually spoke through Moses.

 

Much more is by how much more and indicates a contrast.

 

It is understood in the sense of by how much rather or by how much instead.

 

As indicated by the italics, shall not we escape is for the most part supplied by the translators to aid the understanding of the English reader.

 

If we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven is we, the ones who turn away (or are turning away) from the One from heaven; we, the ones who reject (or are rejecting) the One from heaven; or we, the ones who repudiate (or are repudiating) the One from heaven.

 

Those who have been genuinely saved will never do this.

 

Him that speaketh from heaven may be the One Who is from heaven or the One Who speaks (or is speaking) from heaven.

 

Speaketh has been supplied from the context by the translators.

 

The translators viewed this as God the Father; so, they translated it as him that (speaketh) from heaven.

 

Hebrews 12:26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

 

Whose refers to him that speaketh from heaven in verse 25.

 

Whose voice then shook the earth indicates that God spoke and, as a result, it caused the earth to shake, i.e. to move to and fro, to waver, or to totter.

 

Then means at the time of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai.

 

But introduces a mild contrast.

 

Now means at the present time and speaks of the New Testament era.

 

He hath promised is He has announced, He has proclaimed, or He has promised. Its perfect tense indicates action taken in past time with its result continuing on. God promised something in the past, and this promise remains in effect in the present.

 

Saying may be understood in the sense of when He said or while He said, by saying, or and He said.

 

What He said is, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

 

This is a quotation from Haggai 2:6 .

 

Yet is still once more or, simply, once.

 

I is emphatic and refers to God.

 

Shake is cause to shake.

 

It is a prediction of a future event, and its mood indicates that it is something that will actually happen.

 

It is not merely something which has a potential for happening as if it were possible or even probable. It is definite.

 

Not the earth only but also heaven indicates that God is going to shake both the heaven and the earth.

 

Heaven refers to the atmospheric and stellar heavens rather than to the place where God dwells.

 

Hebrews 12:27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

 

In verse 27 the writer selects three words yet once more from the quotation which he has cited in verse 26.

 

And this word, Yet once more is literally and the once yet and denotes a reference to the quotation translated yet once more from the previous verse.

 

Word has been placed in italics by the King James translators, indicating that it does not actually appear in the Greek text. It was supplied because it is required by the context.

 

Signifieth means makes clear, shows, or indicates. Its present tense indicates continuing action.

 

What yet once more signifies is the removing of those things that are shaken.

 

The removing is the removal.

 

Of those things that are shaken is of the things that are shaken, of the things that are caused to move to and fro, of the things that are caused to waver, or of the things that are caused to totter. It is the same term used in verse 26 in the phrase whose voice then shook the earth.

 

As of things that are made is as of things that have been made.

 

The tense of are made indicates action completed in the past whose result continues on. It indicates a state of being.

 

That is understood in the sense of in order that, for the purpose that, so that, or with the result that.

 

Those things which cannot be shaken is simply the things not shaken, the things not caused to move to and fro, the things not caused to waver, or the things not caused to totter.

 

When He shakes the heaven and the earth, some things will not be shaken.

 

May remain completes this statement. It means might continue.

 

Hebrews 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

 

Wherefore is understood in the sense of therefore or for this reason.

 

We refers both to the writer and the readers.

 

Receiving is understood in the sense of because (i.e. since or inasmuch as) we receive.

 

What we receive is a kingdom which cannot be moved. It is a kingdom where God is reigning or ruling over believers.

 

Which cannot be moved modifies kingdom and means immovable or unshaken. It implies an immovable (or unshaken) kingdom.

 

Let us have is an encouraging way of saying we should have.

 

What we are to have is grace, i.e. unmerited (or undeserved) favor.

 

Whereby suggests by which or through which and refers to grace.

 

It is through grace that we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

 

We may serve God means we may worship God.

 

Acceptably means in an acceptable manner and tells how believers are enabled to serve or worship.

 

With reverence and godly fear indicates two things that should accompany believers’ service or worship of God.

 

Reverence is respect, and godly fear is a fear of God or an awe of God.

 

How can those who are sinners saved by grace do anything thing less than stand in awe of God with utmost respect for Who He is and for what He has done!

 

Hebrews 12:29 For our God is a consuming fire.

 

For our God is a consuming fire provides the reason believers should serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

 

For is the translation of two words which together are really emphatic and which are to be understood in the sense of for indeed, for in fact, or for certainly.

 

Our God makes God very personal.

 

Is has been supplied by the translators as is indicated by the italics.

 

A consuming fire is a fire which consumes.

 

Hence, what He can do to those who refuse to submit to Him is frightening, and it is also frightening what He could do to anyone who should stray from the paths of right conduct.

 

It is a reminder of Hebrews 10:31 where a similar statement has been made, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.