TODAY’S SCRIPTURE Hebrews 12:18-24
When the Israelites make procession towards Mt. Sinai following the exodus out of Egypt, they are confronted with a divine demonstration of dread and terrible fear (Exodus 19). They are given a series of boundary limitations that both Israelite and animal have to abide by, and if they violate such boundaries, they would be stoned. The only way to have access to God is through the mediation of Moses, but even that is at a distance.
Moses exhorts Israel to obey the Lord with whom they were in covenant. In fact, he reminds them “how on the day that you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, the Lord said to me, ‘Gather [qāhal] the people to me, that I may let them hear My words, so that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so’” (Deuteronomy 4:10-11). Interestingly, the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) translates the Hebrew “the day that you stood” with the phrase “the day of the assembly [ekklēsia].” The Hebrew letter picks up on these points.
In Hebrews 10:18-24, the Hebrew writer finalizes his argumentation to stabilize the faith of his readers who had entered the new covenant but who were in danger of returning to the Old Testament system. The argument expresses a tremendous truth about the position of the church in the final consummation of God’s plan. Whereas at Sinai there was thunder, fear, and distance from God, the readers have come to the joyous, angelic, and conciliatory environment of grace through the blood of Jesus found in the true Zion of Heaven. For this reason, the covenant of Jesus is better than the Mosaic system (Hebrews 10:1-4).
Consequently, the author closes this part of the argument with a significant contrast between Abel and Jesus. When Abel was slain, the blood called for vindication, judgment, and fear (Genesis 4:10); but for the “assembly [ekklēsia] of the firstborn,” the blood of Jesus speaks the better word of reconciliation and joy––not only of judgment.
Today, I will…remember that my relationship with God is based upon a gracefilled access to God and not upon fear and death. I will rejoice that Jesus mediates to the church not just a God of holiness but a God of reconciliation.