by Brett Jacobsen
There are many prophetic shadows in the Bible which display what God has done and will do in the New Covenant season of His Kingdom. One such biblical illustration of the current transition from old wineskins to new, from flesh to faith, from Christendom to Christ, is the relocation from Sinai to Sion. This shift from mountain to mountain: from kingdom to kingdom, is very instructive for all those who wish to live “in Christ”.
The writer of Hebrews has done a great service to the Kingdom of Christ in drawing a bold line between the carnal kingdom and Christ’s:
For you are not come to the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor to blackness, and darkness, and tempest, And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (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: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) (Heb 12:18-21)
The original purpose of Hebrews was to differentiate between Old Covenant religion, which had then become obsolete, and New Covenant realities. This differentiation has modern applications for our learning. Christians aren’t endeavouring to literally go to Mt Sinai to meet God and only portions of the church have blatantly put themselves under Old Testament legalism. However, we do well to learn from this passage which provides only two kingdom locations for us to be dwelling at. There is no middle ground; we either come to “the mount that might be touched” or we “come to mount Sion”. Coming to “the mount that might be touched”- to Mt Sinai, is a prophetic type of coming to a religion “that might be touched”: an external kingdom of outward religion (1).
But you are come to mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 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, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel. (22-24)
For those who are “in Christ”, the truth of the matter is that we have “come to mount Sion”. We have come to a place that is not of this world although it is outworked throughout the cosmos. We have come to:
• “the city of the living God … heavenly Jerusalem” rather than an earthly geographical location. Under the Old Covenant (here represented by Mt Sinai) the covenant people did have various earthly geographical locations where they were to come to God, we do not! No country, city, revival town, building, “worldly sanctuary”, or any such location do we need to come to in order to meet God (Heb 9:1). Jesus said “The kingdom of God comes not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20b-21).
• “to an innumerable company of angels” instead of to an earthly worship service. While there is nothing illegal about worshiping God in a large earthly gathering, we must understand that it is not God’s great purpose, and though it is impressive to man, it is not to God. Revelation gives us a clearer picture of this “innumerable company of angels” and what they are doing in such a great gathering:
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be to him that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever. (Rev 5:11-13)
New Covenant people worship God with the “innumerable company of angels” “round about the throne”. All who are in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea, join together in the Spirit to worship Father and Jesus. Our overemphasis on earthly worship gatherings has hindered the heavenly gathering of the saints. Remember that we “are not come to the mount that might be touched”: to a carnal religion, a physical experience. Because we have promoted things that may be touched as special (like impressive meetings), we have caused many saints to miss the heavenly worship service on a daily basis, as they gear up for the holy convocation in the holy sanctuary at the holy time. Heaven and its’ inhabitants worship God perpetually, so should we… we live there too (Rev 4:8).
• “To the general assembly [paneguris - a mass-meeting, i.e. (fig.) universal companionship] and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven” rather than the earthly assembly that we’ve called church. This “general assembly” is not really a general assembly at all. It is a specific one, the heavenly one. The Greek word used to describe it is paneguris. Keeping in mind that mount Sion is not a kingdom “that might be touched”, it is celestial, we can see that this “general assembly” is referring to the universal companionship in heaven. While we continue to view earthly gatherings as some kind of heavenly gathering we do err towards the carnal kingdom. Of course this is not to say that we shouldn’t get together with other believers, even for worship and prayer. It is however, pertinent to the Kingdom’s advancement in the earth that we come to, and remain at, “mount Sion”. Jesus said “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt 18:20). Truth is, even if I’m on my own, He is with me. However, if there are a few saints together, He is “in the midst [mesos – middle, between] of them”. To gather many saints together in one place, except for around His throne, is not God’s intention. He has clearly called us to “go” and be “the light of the world” rather than hide from the world, putting a basket over His light (Mark 16:15; Matt 5:14-16). Though there may be the odd place for a larger earthly gathering, surely the Lord is more into us gathering with the whole body, the angels, the beasts and the 24 elders, daily around His throne, whether we are physically alone or with a few believers. We should “enter into [our] closet, and when [we] have shut [our] door, pray to [our] Father which is in secret; and [our] Father which sees in secret shall reward [us] openly” (Matt 6:6). In Christ, you need to think small in order to truly think big, less is more.
• “to God the Judge of all”, not to man’s judgements and rule. If we continue in the Kingdom we are judged (in Christ) by God, not man. That judgement also entails being “ordered by the Lord” rather than men (Ps 37:23).
• “to the spirits of just men made perfect” instead of carnal friendships. We who dwell in “mount Sion” have, and should continue to, come to “the spirits of just men” for heavenly fellowship. Paul said that he“[knew] no man after the flesh” (2 Cor 5:16). We are to have koinonia (participative partnership) with other believers in the Spirit. We have spent far too much time making worldly alliances and denominational connections. If we just live in the Spirit, abiding at mount Sion, we will be led into true spiritual fellowship with “the spirits of just men” who have been made complete.
• “to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant” rather than to hierarchical heads who have set themselves between God and man:
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (1 Tim 2:5)
Although the Kingdom which Christ rules from mount Sion provides equipping ministry and overseers, it does not set anyone above the saints, except Christ Himself. People who don’t daily dwell in mount Sion will feel the need to keep going to man for answers, direction, assurance and guidance. They are always after someone who “might be touched”, someone from proverbial mount Sinai. The balance is, of course, that “in the multitude of counsellors there is safety” and Christ is continually manifesting by His Spirit through covenant people (Prov 11:14; 1 Cor 12:7). However, it is Jesus who we should be continually going to for everything.
• “to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel”, not to any form of earthly penance. Christ’s Kingdom has the only continual covering from sin: “the blood of sprinkling” which poured forth from Jesus upon the mercy seat in heaven. Abel’s blood spoke, bringing condemnation against Cain his murderer, while Jesus’ blood speaks against the condemnation of His murderers… (us) (Gen 4:10). Abiding in Christ, who reigns from mount Sion, keeps us under the grace, and in the freedom of Christ’s “better sacrifice”.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:7-9)
The New Testament is full of this celestial Kingdom terminology. Although we clearly live our lives in this world, we are not of it. We ought to exist in the Kingdom of Christ and manifest that reality in our tangible world. Jesus came to establish His Kingdom in the spiritual, or heavenly, realm. This Kingdom cannot be hindered from affecting the world around it. We must resist the carnal urge to operate out of the temporal, terrestrial, kingdoms which man has strived to erect as monuments to Jesus through religion. These took fuller shape between the second and forth centuries and have established earthly venues: tabernacles which man pitched, and not the Lord.
Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. (Heb 8:1-2)
In our quest to see the Kingdom of Christ increase, we must rid ourselves of the man pitched hindrances which have endured, albeit in a contemporary fashion, through the Dark Ages until now.
Remain on the mountain
Our main passage from Hebrews continues with a stern warning to the believers to not “refuse” or “turn away” from “him that speaks from heaven”:
See that you refuse not him that speaks. For if they escaped not who refused him that spoke on earth [Moses], much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaks from heaven [Jesus]: (25)
Not only have true disciples of Christ “come to mount Sion” they must abide there. It is an ongoing temptation to continue in a form of godliness, and yet, sometimes inadvertently, move away from Him by refusing “him that speaks from heaven”, choosing to focus more on ‘they that speak from earth’. James put it this way:
But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in a glass [mirror]: For he beholds himself, and goes his way, and straightway forgets what manner of man he was. But whoso looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (Jas 1:22-25)
Like in Hebrews, James also speaks about not refusing “him that speaks from heaven” by not being a hearer only, but “a doer of the work” which the Lord commands from His heavenly post. Now, it has been erroneously taught that this “perfect law of liberty” is the Bible word of God. Let me begin by declaring my undying affection and ever increasing dependence on the biblical account of God’s Word. However, it is crucial we understand that “the perfect law of liberty” is a heavenly Word which is transmitted by the Spirit in our hearts. Proverbs gives some insight into where this “perfect law of liberty” mirror is situated:
As in water [reflection- same as mirror] face answers to face, so the heart of man to man. (Prov 27:19)
The wisdom writer’s observation was that, just like a face looks back at itself in water, so does the heart of man reflect a true picture of the man. James, himself being a wisdom writer, had this understanding when he wrote his epistle. He was not referring to any written word as “the perfect law of liberty” because he knew that “the letter kills, but the spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6). He was referring to the Word which is written in our hearts by the Spirit. God told us through Jeremiah “…I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people…” (Jer 31:31-34). So, what we are talking about here, in a nutshell, is that the “perfect law of liberty” is the Holy Spirit abiding in our hearts. He is the “perfect law” in that He carries and manifests the full counsel of God. He isn’t limited by “thou shalt” and “thou shall not”; He commands and guides through every aspect of every situation, bringing the full heavenly counsel of God Almighty Himself. So although the Bible is a great, heavenly inspired work which is our foundation for understanding who God is and what He is like, it is a word and law “that might be touched”. The Bible in its entirety is like a manual that teaches us God’s heavenly language so that we can relate to Him in the Spirit. Because I know the word (the Bible) I can better recognise God speaking to me by His Spirit which lives in me. If I am to “continue [parameno- remain, abide]” in this “perfect law of liberty”, or as Paul calls it, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus”, I must not only “be a hearer” of “Him that speaks from heaven” I must obey Him (Jas 1:25, Rom 8:2, Heb 12:25).
The “liberty” or “[freedom] from the law of sin and death” of this “perfect law” comes from the fact that we are no longer focusing on sin, and we are not under a written law (Jas 1:25, Rom 8:2). Rather, we are centring on the heavenly “law of the Spirit”, which, in effect, is “beholding as in a glass [reflection- i.e. mirror] the glory of the Lord” and so we “are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor 3:18).
The heavenly Hebrews passage goes on to say:
Whose voice then shook the earth [at Sinai]: but now he has promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. (Heb 12:26-27)
One of the main aims of the New Covenant was, and still is, to shake off the things “that might be touched”: the “things that are made”. This was accomplished in a fairly large degree in the early church. Then, due to man’s desire for the false security of carnal religion, many man-made elements crept back into the church until she was almost overcome by them. Now, in this latter season, God is shaking again. He will continue to shake until His Kingdom is established as the fullness of Christ across the globe. All the man-made securities must be shaken off that only “those things which cannot be shaken may remain”. The things of the Spirit will stand, all else will fall. The converts, the relationships, the doctrines, the ministry works, the “churches”, the organisations, our lives and every other aspect of Christianity will be tested before Him who sits on the throne. The end result will be “the loss of all things” except that which was not only birthed by the Spirit, but that which remains in the Spirit (Phil 3:8).
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire. (Heb 12:28-29)
Because “our God is a consuming fire”, we do well to abandon our carnal efforts which have impressed us, though they only produce “wood, hay, stubble” which will be consumed (1 Cor 3:12). If we continue to “[receive] a kingdom which cannot be moved”, one that is “like to treasure hid in a field”; a kingdom which abides “within”, we will stand (Matt 13:44, Luke 17:21). If we continue in any kingdom which “might be touched” we will fall.
(1) In prophetic biblical language mountains are used symbolically to speak of kingdoms. For example: when Jesus said “If you have faith, and doubt not, you shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if you shall say to this mountain, Be you removed, and be you cast into the sea; it shall be done” He was speaking of the fall of natural Israel by using the Mt of Olives as a picture of that kingdom’s pending desolation (Matt 21:21). The intended meaning of this mountain removal in Matt 21:21 is painfully clear when simply read in context with the rest of the chapter. Here is the break up of the chapter:
v1-11 - “Behold, your King comes to you” – Christ presented as King of His Kingdom.
v 12-17 – “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but you have made it a den of thieves” – declaration of the failure of the carnal kingdom under demanded national kings other than Christ (1 Sam 8:1-22; Hos 13:1-11).
v 18-22 – “found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said to it, Let no fruit grow on you here forward for ever [aion]” “you shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if you shall say to this mountain [kingdom]” – the fig tree and Mt Olivet are both symbols of national Israel; Jesus was pronouncing their desolation… yet again.
v 23-27 – “By what authority do you these things? and who gave you this authority?” Jesus answered “The baptism of John, where was it? from heaven, or of men?” – the power struggle between the carnal kingdom and Christ’s celestial Kingdom.
v 28-32 – Two sons in the vineyard. “the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” – a parable showing the removal of the carnal kingdom.
v33-41 – The vineyard owner. “let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.” “He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen” – another parable showing the removal of the carnal kingdom.
v 42-46 – “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation [1 Pet 2:9] bringing forth the fruits thereof” “the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spoke of them.” – Jesus clear declaration of taking the Kingdom from the natural nation and giving it to a spiritual one.
Mt Olivet’s removal signified the Kingdom being taken from the natural nation of Israel and given to the celestial Kingdom of Christ- Christ's Kingdom is figurative Mt Sion (Rom 9:33, 11:26; 1 Pet 2:6; Rev 14:1). Likewise, Mt Sinai is a picture of carnal religion, the letter which kills (2 Cor 3) thus, the type and shadow of the true celestial Kingdom is Mt Sion.
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