I have been to the west coast of Mexico a few times, and the approach to Puerta Vallarta is always memorable. The airplane arcs over the grey dragon-spine of the Sierra Madre Mountains and circles over the sparkling sea to make its landing at the airport. It’s awe-inspiring and delightful, a sight not to be forgotten. Mountains have been objects of awe and fascination over the centuries; no wonder the Scriptures speak of them to inspire and wonder!
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills — from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2 NKJV)
The writer of Hebrews draws on the mountain imagery to illustrate the new covenant with God.
“For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. For they could not endure what was commanded. … But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:18-20a,22-24 NKJV)
The revelation of God at Mount Sinai was central to the formation of Israel’s worship of God, known as the old covenant. As the people approached the mountain, it was a scene of terror: a “no trespassing” sign, thunder, lightning, clouds of smoke, ear-splitting trumpet blasts, and earthquakes. The reaction, of course, was fear! Yet, none of these sights and sounds was enough to inspire holiness among God’s people. Forty days later, they were worshipping a golden calf idol.
The other mountain, Zion, is a vastly different panorama. It’s the beautiful city of God, of His heaven, not of laws or desolation, but for all of God’s redeemed believers. The living God is described as the God and Judge of all, and Jesus as the Mediator of the new covenant, made possible because His sacrificial death satisfied the justice of God, making those who believe in Him holy and perfect before Him. The vision of Zion is not about “no trespassing”, but a glorious invitation into fellowship with God.
Perhaps the idea of personal holiness seems foreign to you, as you have tried to earn and deserve acceptance from God. Have you drifted away because you decided that you could never be good enough to be accepted by Him? The truth is that His arms are open wide, inviting you to the mountain, the city of the living God, where Jesus has paid the price for you to be a welcome and honoured pilgrim. I pray that you will turn to Him today, accept His invitation, and live for Him.
Prayer: We praise Your holy name today, Lord, for the vision of Your heaven, which is open to us by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross of Zion. May we come to You with joy and adoration for the welcome that we find there. Amen.
Copyright © 2023, by Shirley Moulton <firstname.lastname@example.org>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional presbycan.ca
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Used with the permission of PresbyCan and author.