You Have Come To Mount ZionSeries: Eschatology
YOU HAVE COME TO MOUNT ZION
Sermon By Terry Siverd /November 27, 2022 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
Most of us have noticed that much of the teaching within Christianity in general
appears to be fixated on a pilgrim theology or a sojourning mentality.
This pilgrim mentality stems primarily from a mistaken view of eschatology.
The Scriptures reveal that a specific span of forty-years was foreordained by God
to transition from the Old Covenant world into the New Covenant realm.
This unique time period came to be the fulfillment of many types and shadows provided in the Old Testament.
Jesus spoke of this in Lk.22:20 &22 when He told His first-century disciples - -
When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand...
These are the days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
This period from 30 to AD 70, which was known as “the last days” addressed a very special time in redemptive history.
This time frame is the premier focus of all of the New Testament documents and dominates the eschatology of
the four gospels, the book of Acts and all of the apostolic epistles written by Paul & Peter and James, Jude & John.
The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews also accentuates this period of time.
Please open your Bibles to the book of Hebrews for what I hope will prove to be an eye-opening study.
Let's begin this morning's sermon by fast-forwarding to the end of the epistle for a reading from Heb.12:18-24 - -
For you have not come to a mountain that may be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom
and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that the who
heard begged that no further word should be spoken to them. For they could not bear the command, 'If even
a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned.' And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, 'I am full of fear
and trembling.' But YOU HAVE COME TO MOUNT ZION and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,
and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly of the church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven,
and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator
of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
Our hymnals contain several dozen songs that perpetuate this pilgrim mentality. While many of us have
become emotionally attached to these songs, they have worked to misinform or mis-shape our view of eschatolog.
It is true, In a generic sense that we are sojourners - - engaged in a lifelong pilgrimage.
However when we were examine the Scriptures more carefully we come to see that this
sojourning lingo was specifically applied to this extraordinary time span between AD 30-70.
These forty years brought to fruition God's plan of redemption, which was consummated in the first century.
It is a serious blunder to project this pilgrim motif into some far-distant future.
Many have have erroneously misappropriated this pilgrim thinking as a default lifestyle for every generation.
Nothing bears this out more than an accurate understanding of the epistle to the Hebrews.
Surely you noticed the inflection of my voice when I previously read the words from Heb.12:22 - -
you HAVE COME to mount Zion and to the city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem...
The author does not say you WILL EVENTUALLY COME to the heavenly Jerusalem.
And he clearly doesn't insinuate in any way whatsoever that their arrival to Mount Zion might be a long way off.
He announces to his readers, without an ounce of ambiguity, that you HAVE COME to mount Zion!
To do justice to this inspired text we will need to re-think the words of some of our well-liked hymns.
One Isacc Watts hymn that I have always loved is #869, We're Marching To Zion.
In order to make this hymn truly Biblical, we will need to slightly amend the refrain.
Instead of singing, “we're marching TO Zion”, we ought to be singing, “we're marching IN Zion”.
To set the stage for the announcement made in Heb.12:22 we want to back-pedal to the start of the epistle.
From the outset, the writer of this epistle provides an anchor for his exhortation noting, in these last days Heb.1:1-2.
The “last days” refers to the last days of the Old Covenant (i.e., the early days of the New Covenant realm).
In Heb.8:13, he specifies that whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
For those who think the Old Covenant ended promptly with the cross of Christ, this become a problem passage.
Here, in the early-to-mid 60's the writer acknowledges that although it still exists, the Old is indeed ready to disappear.
As to Christology, a critical part of Jesus' incarnation was God's plan to deal with the problem of man's sin.
Heb.2:14-15 states, Since the children share in flesh and blood, (Jesus) Himself likewise also partook of the same,
that through (His atoning) death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil;
and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
The writer urges the Hebrews to be diligent in their discipleship until the end (Heb.6:11).
The historical framework for Jesus' atoning for the sin was spoken of at the consummation of the ages (Heb.9:26).
This consummation or end was on the near horizon. During Israel's last days Jesus was crucified on behalf of the people. Subsequently, Jesus was resurrected from the tomb and shortly thereafter ascended back to the Father.
As part of His function as High Priest, Jesus entered within the veil (i.e., into the holy presence of God / Heb.6:11-20).
They were admonished to eagerly await His return (Heb.9:28).
As to the time of His return from His priestly duties, they were given two notices.
First, it would coincide with the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem. Heb.9:8 proclaims,
the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed, while the temple is still standing. cf. Lk.22:20 & 22.
Secondly, the coming of the Lord in the destruction of Jesus was not far off for those first-century saints.
Heb.10:19ff, adds, Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh.... Let us draw near …
lest us hold fast … let us encourage one another and all the more, as you see the day approaching (Heb.10:25).
Heb.10:35-37 exhorts, Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have
need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what is promised.
For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay.
For the most part, the nation of Israel had come to find themselves in a very dark place (at odds with God).
In the Olivet discourse (Mt.23:27-28) Jesus described Israel's leaders as whitewashed tombs which on the outside
appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bone, and all uncleanness...full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
For the nation of Israel in the first century, the work of Jesus in opening up the new and living way was their only hope.
And so. like Israel in the wilderness they sojourned for forty years, with the end result being a new creation/world.
Paul put this pilgrimage in simple terms, saying: the night is almost gone and the day is at hand (Rom.12:12).
The Old Testament prophet foresaw this marvelous transformation. He saw a valley of dry bones concerning which he clarified (Ezk.37:11f) - - these bones are the whole house of Israel; behold, they say, 'Our bones are dried up, and our
hope has perished. We are completely cut off.' Therefore prophesy, and say to them...'I will put My Spirit within you,
and you will come to life...Then you will known that I, the the Lord, have spoken and done it, declares the Lord.
We dare not tell our first-century brothers and sisters in Christ that their hopes and dreams are still “on hold”.
Through the sacrifice of His Son, God the Father has provided the means for us to dwell in Zion, RIGHT NOW.
“Mount Zion” is not a PALATIAL PLACE, but rather it is a REDEMPTIVE RELATIONSHIP with our Holy God.
The apostle Paul expresses a foretaste of life in the new Jerusalem in his prayer in Eph.1:3 - -
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us with every sprirtual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
(For an excellent overview of Hebrews, see CecilHook.net - - Essay #251 – Hebrews In Preterist Perspective).