Sermon Discussion Questions
1. Do you sometimes live like you still are under the old covenant law? How does this passage change your point of view?
2. What about the heavenly Jerusalem excites you as you run toward heaven? How does knowing about heaven help you better run the race?
3. How might this passage change the way you worship? Does your worship reflect the fact that God is holy?
Scripture: Hebrews 12:18-29
I. The wrong finish line for you is a place of fear.
A. The Hebrew Christians were tempted to fall away from their faith in Jesus and to return to their Jewish faith. They wanted to return to the old law covenant. But beginning in verse 18 the author reminds his readers that the old covenant law is not what they are running toward. He is writing about a mountain on earth Mount Sinai – the place where God gave the Law to Moses to pass on to the people of Israel. Notice what came with the giving of God’s Law at that mountain: fire, darkness, gloom, tempest or storm. The people were terrified!
B. The words of God were so terrifying that the people begged Moses to make it stop (vs. 19). The people were afraid that God was going to kill them at any moment. Even Moses, the leader and deliverer of Israel, trembled with fear when God gave the Law (vs. 21). So, the people were afraid. The people knew that God was holy and they were not. So, they had to keep their distance from God. There was a barrier between them and God. Here is the point the author is making: do you really want to go back there to the Law? That is the wrong finish line!
II. The right finish line for you is a place of joy.
A. The wrong finish line for you to run toward is the old law covenant represented by Mount Sinai where God gave the Law to Moses and Israel. So, what is the right finish line? It is represented by a different mountain according to verse 22: Mount Zion. Our finish line then that we are running toward is heaven. what is the atmosphere at Mount Zion in heaven? It is an atmosphere of extraordinary joy. This is the heavenly Jerusalem (vs. 22). It is the city of the living God so everyone who lives in that city is completely safe.
B. Because God is eternal, the city where He lives with His people is eternal. Psalm 125:1: “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved but abides forever.” This heaven is a place of joy. It is a place where innumerable angels are in festal gathering (vs. 22). The word festal means the celebration of a festival. God is still holy. But now I do not have to be afraid of God as my holy judge (vs. 23). I can rejoice because Christ’s sacrifice for my sin has made me righteous and made me God’s child (vs. 23).
III. The right finish line for you is a place of grateful worship.
A. The writer of Hebrews closes chapter 12 with one final warning to his readers. He begins vs. 25 by saying, “See that you do not refuse him who is speaking.” Listen! How will we escape if we reject the forgiveness that God offers us in Jesus? We will only be safe and unshaken if we listen to the warning that we need to run to Jesus and toward the finish line of heaven. If you do trust Christ and repent, you can rejoice in the great gift of salvation that God has given you (vs. 28)! And while we run toward heaven, we should be full of gratitude and worship. We are full of joy for what Jesus has done for us in forgiving us and in breaking down the barrier between us and God. We are now safe, protected by Jesus. We cannot be shaken by any word of judgment. But we are still in awe of our holy God as we worship Him (vs. 29).
Do not run to the wrong finish line. Run to the finish line of Jesus and heaven.
The letter to the Hebrews
Commentaries on Hebrews by Thomas Schreiner and Raymond Brown
Bible study by Michael Kruger