It seems there’s going facedown and then there’s going facedown. One almost out of compulsion–almost forced through trembling fear. The other an act of glorious freedom, willingly fueled by high regard and godly, reverent fear. The first, going facedown because you’re shaking in your boots. The other, hitting the ground because of an overwhelming desire to bow the knee. Both have their place, I guess. But the latter, according to my reading this morning, is acceptable worship.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
(Hebrews 12:28-29 ESV)
Hebrews 12 concludes with a discussion about two mountains, Mount Sinai and Mount Zion. Both revealing the glory of God. Sinai like an erupting volcano, “a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest” (v.18). The voice of God rumbling over it and then exploding like “the sound of a trumpet.” DO NOT ENTER! signs posted around the perimeter lest anyone should approach too close to this holy hill and die. So terrifying was the sight of this footstool of God that even Moses, who was somewhat accustomed to standing on holy ground, would say, “I tremble with fear” (v. 21).
But . . . oh glorious word, but . . . “But you have come to Mount Zion” (v.22-24). Unlike Sinai, where the glory descended in order to give the law, this mount is the city of the living God where all are welcomed and invited to come. And anyone can RSVP simply by trusting in the blood of the Lamb shed for their sin. It is the heavenly Jerusalem, a place of gathering. Countless angels in festive celebration congregated there. Joined with the souls of myriads more who constitute “the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.” And in their midst is Jesus, “the mediator of a new covenant.”
Mount Zion, that’s the hill we’ve been called to.
Sinai had it’s day but was temporary, pointing to something better. Just as the law given on that mount was never intended to bring about lasting righteousness before God but could only act as “our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). And though it drove people to go facedown because of the clouds and flames and deafening thunder, it was always intended to give way to a better hill and better motivation for worship.
For, while Sinai was only intended for a season, Zion was established for eternity. It is everlasting. Persevering through the ages in the hearts of those who wait for the day when this kingdom of faith is manifest in all it’s glory–the glory of God. And we shall behold our King, and He shall gaze upon His people. And it will be a kingdom that cannot be shaken.
Therefore, let us give thanks. Thus, let us offer to God, acceptable worship.
Not because we have to but because we get to. Not out of compulsion where we are forced to our knees, but out of celebration because we have been welcomed into the Holy of Holies through the blood of Christ by the wooing of the Spirit according to the loving desire of the Father.
And so, though humbly, we enter confidently. The gates open. The way prepared. And we worship with acceptable worship. Not in trembling dread, but in reverence, awe, and godly fear.
We gladly and willingly go facedown. Continually offering, in a manner well pleasing to the God of Creation, the “sacrifice of praise . . ., that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name” (Heb. 13:5).
Because of His wonderful grace. Ascribing forever His everlasting glory.