Advent 2022: Thu 8 Dec

Hebrews 12:18-24

You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, because they could not bear what was commanded: ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.’ The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, ‘I am trembling with fear.’

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

The writer of Hebrews compares the mountain that Moses climbed when he received the Ten Commandments with Mount Zion, the new Jerusalem. You may recall that heaven is set to have a house-move. It is described in the final chapters of Revelation, which was written a generation later than this passage.

Mount Sinai became a dreadful place when Moses went up to spend time in God’s presence. It was the exclusive property of God for that meeting.

Mount Zion, by contrast, is a place of welcome, where we shall meet our Saviour Jesus. There will be thousands upon thousands of rejoicing angels, whose praise is unceasing and whose voices never fade as they proclaim the victory of Jesus.

You might wonder whether this constant rejoicing could get a little tiresome for everyone else. Do you want to go to an eternal place where the praise never ceases, and angels never shut up? Could there be a quiet seaside beach where we can just contemplate as the sun sets? I leave you to discover why that won’t happen.

Heaven is a place of rejoicing. The angels understand this, and they rejoice. It’s because of what Jesus has done for us. We will not yet understand like the angels because we do not have their perspective, but in eternity the angels will take a seat further back as we rejoice and sing our praises.

Will we be able to get away from the angels to a quiet place in heaven?

What will be the role of angels in the new heaven and earth?

Father God, sometimes when I come to prayer it feels like it’s just you and me. I’m not sure that I am always present, either. Open my eyes, I pray, to see you, the living God who inhabits Mount Zion in glory with angels and the redeemed, through Jesus, whom you sent to strike a new covenant relationship with me by his sacrificial blood. Amen.

Come, let us join our cheerful (bi-lingual) songs