What with the one thing and another, it’s been a bit doom and gloom here lately. Every so often I see or read something which really strikes me in a positive way, and I had that experience a couple of days ago. I was reading through the New Testament, preparing for a test next week. We’ve been asked to prepare from Hebrews to Revelation, which is probably a section of the New Testament I’m not quite so familiar with. On this occasion I was reading through Hebrews – a book which I think probably isn’t taught or read as much as it should be – and realised again how breathtaking it is theologically and in terms of imagery.
This passage from Hebrews 12 really hit home. I make no apologies for the length of the quotation, because it is stunning:
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. (Hebrews 12:18-24 NIV)
I think sometimes the Christian life appears to be a slog. It’s a constant battle against, in the words of the Litany from the Book of Common Prayer, ‘the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil’. It’s easy to forget – particularly when going through hard times – that this life is not all there is.
What I found helpful about this passage from Hebrews is that it focusses my eyes on the unseen truths of the gospel – that we have come to a joyful heavenly assembly, to the Judge of all, to the mediator of a new covenant, who has brought us into his kingdom.