I can’t sit in judgment of the people Hebrews was written to. I can’t shake my head for them wanting to go back to the old way . . . the ways of the law . . . the ways of their people . . . the paths of less resistance. It might not be the “better way” based on better promises, better sacrifices, offered by a better High Priest. But, it would take off some pressure . . . it would, at least temporarily perhaps, offer some much needed relief. I can’t get too “high and mighty” with their foolishness because I know how easy it is, for reasons far, far less than persecution, to get distracted from the “better way” and head down paths of other ways.
What’s the remedy? In part, at least, it’s to heed Paul’s exhortation to the Colossians to “set your minds on things that are above” (Col. 3:2a). The writer to the Hebrews gives the same encouragement . . . but in a much more eloquent and soul-stirring manner.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. (Hebrews 12:22-25a ESV)
The system they sought to go back to was the law given on Mt. Sinai. A mount consumed by fire . . . a mount unapproachable, save for the one called up to receive God’s word . . . a mount, that even for Moses, invoked fear and trembling (12:18-21). That’s what they wanted to return to.
Instead, says the writer to the Hebrews, set your minds on things above . . . you need not come to “the forbidding terrors of Sinai” but are beckoned to the welcoming grace of Mt. Zion. Come, pleads the author, to the Mount that is already yours in Christ. Set your feet on pilgrimage to the city of the living God . . . that which you already possess in heaven. “The future is already the present. In today we possess tomorrow. On earth we own Heaven” (MacDonald).
Look not at the ease of the old way . . . seek not the pleasures of a world that is passing away . . . spend not your strength on that which, though while it might be good, is not the best. Instead come to what you have already come to, Mount Zion.
It is the place of innumerable angels who know salvation only vicariously through those redeemed of Adam’s race . . . but know enough to rejoice over one sinner who repents thus assembled in festal gathering. It is the place of those who have gone before, the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven . . . members of the church, the Body and Bride of Christ . . . enjoying, even now, the Lord’s presence.
But more than the angels . . . more than those who have gone before . . . it is the place of the throne of God and it is the place where Jesus, our blessed mediator of a new covenant, even now prepares a place for us. It is the most holy of holy places made accessible through the blood of Jesus. And the Spirit says, “Come to Mount Zion.”
O that I might be kept from turning back. That my focus might be such that Sinai’s terror might be seen for what it is. That my gaze might be such that the appeal of the world might be no appeal at all. That I might set my mind constantly on things above. That I might relentlessly set my face toward the city which I have already arrived at by faith. That I might come to Mount Zion.
By His grace . . . for His glory.