Our God Is A Consuming Fire

Posted by on Mar 9, 2008

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

March 9, 2008

Sunday Morning

“Our God Is A Consuming Fire”

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 12:18-29

Scripture Text: Hebrews 12:18-29

Introduction:

 

A.   As we come to the concluding verses of Hebrews 12, the thing that stands out about this passage is the fact that the writer of Hebrews mentions two mountains.

1. First of all, he mentions Mt. Sinai.

2. While he doesn’t mention it by name, when you read how he described this mountain, there’s no doubt what mountain he is talking about.

3. He described it as a mountain that “burned with fire,” a mountain that was characterized by “blackness, and darkness, and tempest.” (Vrs. 18)

4. He also described it as a mountain from which words were spoken that brought such fear to the hearts of the hearers, that they literally begged that no more words be “spoken.” (Vrs. 19)

5. He also described it as a mountain that was so “terrible” in appearance that those who beheld it literally shook (trembled) with “fear.” (Vrs. 21)

6. How do I know that the writer of Hebrews has in mind here Mount Sinai?

7. Turn to Exo. 20:18-21 and I will show you how I know.

8. The children of Israel are gathered at the base of Mount Sinai and God has just spoken unto them the “Ten Commandments.” (Exo. 20:1-17)

9. Follow with me as I begin reading with Vrs. 18, “18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. 19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. 20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. 21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.”

10.   And so, there’s no doubt that the writer of Hebrews here is talking about Mount Sinai, the mountain upon which God gave the children of Israel the “Ten Commandments.”

 

B.   But notice that there is a second mountain mentioned in this passage, in addition to Mount Sinai, and that is Mount Zion.

1. Notice again Vrs. 22 of our text, “22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God,”

2. Mount Zion, of course, is the mountain upon which part of the city of Jerusalem was built, which the writer of Hebrews here refers to as “the city of the living God.”

3. It is also the mountain upon which King David’s palace once stood.

 

C.   And so, there are two mountains mentioned in this passage.

1. Mount Sinai, the mountain upon which God gave the children of Israel the “Ten Commandments.”

2. Mount Zion, the mountain that has become synonymous with Jerusalem, “the city of the living God.”

 

D.   Now this raises a question.

1. Why does the writer of Hebrews mention these two mountains?

2. He does so because there are some very important lessons to be learned from both of these mountains.

3. First of all, let’s take…

I.       Mount Sinai.

 

A.   What important lesson are we to learn from this mountain?

 

B.   If you will just stop and think about it for a moment, it’s obvious – Mount Sinai teaches us that a person can not make it to heaven on the basis of his own goodness.

 

C.   Let me explain to you why this is true by getting you to answer two questions.

1. First question, “What happened on Mount Sinai?”

2. The answer, of course, is “God gave Israel the Ten Commandments.”

3. Second question, “Why did God give Israel the Ten Commandments?”

4. Someone says, “He gave them the Ten Commandments so that they might keep (obey) them and thereby earn their way into heaven.”

5. No, no, no! That’s not true!

6. Do you know why it’s not true?

7. It’s not true because there is no way that Israel could keep those “Ten Commandments,” and God knew it when He gave them to Israel.

 

D.   By the way, there’s no way that we can keep the “Ten Commandments,” either.

1. Do you know why?

2. Because the “Ten Commandments” reflect the perfect character of our God, and we are not perfect.

3. We are sinners!

4. In fact, the Bible tells us in Rom. 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

5. The Bible also tells us in Rom. 3:10, “There is none righteous, no, not one:”

6. And so, because the “Ten Commandments” reflect the perfect character of our God, there’s no way that sinners like us can keep them!

 

E.   Now this raises a question.

1. Why did God give Israel the “Ten Commandments” if He knew beforehand that they could not keep them?

2. God gave them the “Ten Commandments” to show them how sinful they were and that they could not make it to heaven on the basis of their own goodness.

3. By the way, the “Ten Commandments” serve the same purpose today.

4. Listen to Rom. 3:20, “20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

5. (Illus.- A good way to help a person to come to grips with the fact that they are a sinner is to give them the “Ten Commandments” test. Every single person, if they are honest, will have to admit that they have fallen short of keeping the “Ten Commandments.”)

6. And so, Mount Sinai teaches us that a person cannot make it to heaven on the basis of his own goodness.

 

F.    The sad truth, however, is that there are multitudes of people who honestly believe that they are going to make it to heaven by climbing Mount Sinai.

1. What they don’t realize is that, not only can they not climb Mount Sinai, they can’t even get close to it.

2. Do you remember what God told Moses just before He met with Him and gave him the “Ten Commandments”?

3. Listen as I read Exo. 19:12-13, “12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: 13 There shall not an hand touch it.”

4. Because of God’s holiness and Israel’s sinfulness, they could not even come close to Mount Sinai, much less ascend to the top of it.

5. The same thing is true of us today – because of God’s holiness as well as our sinfulness, there is no way that we can make it to heaven on the basis of our own goodness.

 

G.   That’s the lesson that we should all learn from Mount Sinai.

 

H.   But how about that other mountain mentioned in our text, how about…

 

II.      Mount Zion (Jerusalem).

 

A.   What important lesson are we to learn from this mountain?

 

B.   While Mount Sinai teaches us that we can’t make to heaven on the basis of our own goodness, Mount Zion teaches us that we can make it to heaven on the basis of God’s goodness and grace.

1. You see, Mount Zion is all about God’s grace.

2. Mount Sinai represents the law, but Mount Zion represents grace.

3. No man can be saved by the law, but any man can be saved by grace.

4. The law confronts us with commandments, judgment and condemnation, but grace offers us forgiveness, atonement and salvation.

 

C.   Ever since David conquered the Jebusites and placed the ark of the covenant on Mount Zion, this mountain has been the special earthly dwelling place of God.

1. The psalmist wrote in Psa. 132:13-14, “13 For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. 14 This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.”

2. When Solomon moved the ark to the newly erected temple, which was built on nearby Mount Moriah, the name Zion was extended to include that area as well.

3. Before long, Zion become synonymous with Jerusalem, and Jerusalem became known as the city of God.

 

 

D.   Of course, the Jerusalem that the writer of Hebrews has in mind here is not the earthly Jerusalem, but rather “the heavenly Jerusalem.”

1. Notice again the first part of Vrs. 22, “22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.”

2. Do you realize what this means?

3. It means that because God is a God of grace, those of us who have “come unto mount Sion” and have put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, we have heaven to look forward to.

 

E.   I love Vrs. 22-24 of our text, because they tell us who is in heaven waiting for us.

1. First of all, the angels are waiting to greet us.

2. Notice again the latter part of Vrs. 22, “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.”

3. Not only are there angels in heaven, but we are told that there are “an innumerable company of angels.”

4. In other words, more angels than one can count.

5. What are these angels doing in heaven?

6. They are worshiping and praising God.

7. Listen as I read Rev. 5:11-12, “11 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; 12 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.”

8. Now let me caution you here.

9. We are not to worship angels, however, one day we will worship with them in heaven!

 

F.    Not only will angels be waiting to greet us, but the saints of God who have gone on before us are waiting to greet us.

 

1. Notice again Vrs. 23, “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.”

2. I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to meeting many of the Old Testament saints that we have studying about on Wednesday evenings.

3. Saints like Adam, and Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham, and Jacob, and Joseph, and David, and Daniel, and many others.

4. I’m also looking forward to seeing again many of the New Testament saints who are there, especially members of my own family.

5. And then, there are members of our church family who are there and will no doubt greet us when we arrive.

6. Last year alone four of our members were promoted to glory, Sis. Margaret Dinges, Sis. Nancy Flanagan, Bro. Ed Hampson and Bro. Gus Senesi.

7. When we get to heaven, we will see these precious saints again.

8. And so, the angels are waiting to greet us.

9. The saints of God who have gone on before us are waiting to greet us.

 

G.   There is one more Person who will be waiting to greet us, and He is the One Whom I want most to see.

1. Look again at Vrs. 24 of our text, “24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”

2. Notice that Jesus is referred to here as “the mediator of the new covenant.” Do you know what a “mediator” is?

4. A “mediator” is a go-between, someone who stands between two parties who are at odds with one another, and brings them together (peacemaker).

5. The Bible says in 1 Tim. 2:5, “5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”

6. How does Jesus make peace between a holy God and sinful men?

7. The answer is, His blood, “the blood of sprinkling.”

Conclusion:

 

A.   And so, these two mountains teach us two very important lessons.

1. Mount Sinai, which symbolizes the old covenant (law), teaches us that it is impossible for a person to make to heaven on the basis of his own goodness.

2. Mount Sion, on the other hand, symbolizes the new covenant (grace), and teaches us that it is possible for a person to make it to heaven on the basis of God’s goodness and grace, which was manifest in His giving His Only Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins.

 

B.   I have a question for you, “Which mountain are you looking to this morning, in your quest to one day make it to heaven?”

1. Hopefully, you are looking to Mount Zion.

2. Hopefully, you are looking to the cross.

3. Hopefully, you are looking to Jesus.

 

C.   If you are not, the remaining verses in Hebrews 12 contain a very stern warning.

1. Notice how that warning ends in Vrs. 29, “29 For our God is a consuming fire.”

2. That’s the God you will face if you try to make to heaven by climbing Mount Sinai.

3. Listen to Rev. 20:15, “15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”