True Worship – A Taste of Heaven

Hebrews 12:18-29

“Our inherited, work-valued social and economic systems have conditioned us to worship our work, to work at our play and to play at our worship.” Gordon Dahl, (1972). Work, Play, and Worship In A Leisure Oriented Society

That was forty years ago!! Now we play at our work, worship our play, work as little as possible. Worship as we know it, as God’s word describes it is endangered species. While back, church growth movement, catch-phrase: seeker sensitive. We should have desire to see lost come to Christ. Must do our part so as not to offend needlessly. Is one Seeker am most concerned about. Remember what Jesus told Samaritan woman:

John 4:23-24“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

If our following Jesus and seeking the lost is to have God’s blessing, must first be doing our part to please Seeker by our worship. The Father is seeking true worshipers, those who worship in spirit and truth. No longer come to Sinai and all it represents for our worship; instead come to Zion. Old church met by Sinai, new church by Zion; is same voice who speaks, worshipers have same need too! Is powerful portion of God’s word – contrasts and parallels. Keep in mind theme of Hebrews: Jesus is the Best. Implies other lesser things have their usefulness, yet Jesus exceeds them all.

A. old church v.18-21

Sinai, synonymous with old covenant, place of shadows – things that represented other things, not reality themselves

(1.) The mountain that may be touched – was much room for faith in old covenant, much more that could be seen and felt

touching had consequences (v.20); remember Uzzah, touched ark of covenant and forfeited his life

God takes worship seriously – is God who sets conditions, not man – we approach God our way at our peril

(2.) The fire that burned – no way now to know exactly what was like… was visible evidence God was present

was fire that terrified people most: Deut. 5:24-26 – were convinced only miracle would save from being consumed

brightness of the fire enough to show them blackness of their sin, rebellion against God

(3.) Blackness – fire did not dispel blackness, only enhanced it and made more obvious

was clear to observers that fire was supernatural, manifestation of God’s glory in contrast to man’s sinfulness

(4.) Darkness – if all one has is the Law, honest person is left in hopeless gloom, terrified of God’s holiness and judgment

intended by God to portray hopeless situation – no one should be able to find hope in the Law, trying to keep it in order to be saved

(5.) Tempest – thunder, lightning, earthquake accompanying God’s presence on the mountain… adding to man’s terror

Sarah – watching thunderstorm… from shelter of house! no shelter at Sinai, nowhere to hide, not even in blackness

(6.) The sound of the trumpet – announcing and summoning

announcing approach of King and Judge, summoning all within earshot to appear; hints of future trumpet(s)

(7.) The voice of words – sure, God uses pictures… with words so no misunderstanding

picture may be worth 1000 words, can also have 1000 interpretations; God spoke with words, plainly

terrifying experience for all, including Moses – two responses: majority of people… make it stop; Moses… show me more

Mt. Saint Helens – May 18, 1980 – all evidence indicated eruption; warnings by every available means, intended to move people away from harm; everyone left except 84 year old Harry, caretaker of recreation lodge for half century – “Nobody knows more about this mountain than Harry and it don’t dare blow up on him…” 50-foot high wall mud and ash buried entire area

same true of family, friends, neighbors, co-workers – different responses to God’s warnings about sin

some, like at Sinai: “make it stop”; more brazen majority: “it don’t dare blow up on me; a few: “show me more”

story doesn’t end at Sinai! continues on to another mount, Calvary – only those who leave burden of sin at Calvary allowed entrance into Zion

B. new church v.22-24

Zion – is an earthly one, obviously a heavenly one too; here focus on spiritual realities, ones we come to by faith not sight

(1.) city of living God – place of God’s presence, where he rules; city with foundations…, where God dwells with his people

God revealed in his glory in heaven, dwelling there with saints and angels; also by his Spirit dwells in you and me

(2.) heavenly Jerusalem – center of government, center of worship, place of blessing and rejoicing, citizenship of all God’s people

nerve center of Christ’s kingdom, invulnerable to assaults of world and Satan; where primary patriotic loyalty should be

(3.) company of angels – no longer guarding access to tree of life; instead, welcoming the redeemed home

we are honored family members served by angels who celebrate Jesus and victory over his enemies

(4.) church of the firstborn – one with Christ by faith, sharing in privileges reserved for the true Son

joint-heirs with Jesus who is heir of all things; assembly in which all are firstborn – no second-class citizens, no cousins…only siblings

(5.) God the Judge – is that encouraging? remember, this is Zion not Sinai – are coming as “firstborn”

this Judge is omni…(3x), can be counted on to set record straight – right every wrong, vindicate the righteous

(6.) spirits of just men – not “life stinks, you die”; is another life, some have already arrived

notice: “spirits of just men”, not “spirits of perfect men” – perfection, completion reward of heaven not a condition

(7.) Jesus the Mediator – here’s root cause of difference between Sinai and Zion: the Mediator, Jesus the Best

Jesus the one who guarantees our citizenship in heavenly Jerusalem, entrance into church of firstborn, acceptance before God the Judge, the perfection of our souls

(8.) blood of sprinkling – not a Sinai kind of sacrifice, instead absolutely one-of-a-kind: Mediator brought his own blood

is blood of the new covenant, reality seen by faith – we come to Jesus, real man, real experience, real suffering and sacrifice, we relate / he relates

Jesus the focal point of our worship, the goal at the end of the race; heaven not the goal, Jesus is… didn’t begin chapter with “looking unto heaven”

C. same voice v.25-27

him who speaks from heaven – if God speaking Law brought accountability, so much more God speaking Gospel

Gospel not only for unsaved, is for all of us, and is same God who speaks both

Law articulates standard for righteousness, Gospel tells us standard was met in Jesus

Law estranges us from God, Gospel reconciles us, promises forgiveness upon repentance

same God whose voice shook Sinai will shake all things when he returns

if we are not to be shaken then, must listen now – following his voice, depending on strength he supplies

don’t need to be able to see God, tangibly sense his presence for him to have authority — Ruthie, Samuel, jumping, Skype

speaks through his Word, by his Spirit, through his servants whom he has given to his church… is God who speaks

matters not how God speaks, has same weight of authority, has said he’ll be back suddenly and w/o warning

means the stakes are eternal: life uncertain, Bible is clear what comes after – must make most of present, living life for all it’s worth while investing in eternity

D. same need v.28-29

grace to worship acceptably – our God is an awesome God, deserves our reverent worship and godly fear

won’t get past fear without grace; our best attempts at reverent worship only acceptable because of grace

should come to worship expecting God to be present and to bless; what about primary motive??

love God, thank God, acknowledge dependence on God – Lord’s Prayer, e.g.

more we understand our need, God’s provision and further blessing, greater our desire to worship and serve him well

even more basic: grace to worship comes after saving grace – only redeemed sinners are qualified to serve

in your zeal to see unsaved trust Christ for salvation, don’t rush by Mount Sinai – Sinai explains need for Calvary; is only by way of Calvary we come to Zion.

True worship here on earth as wonderful, moving, great blessing as it is… only a taste. We’re not babies, have graduated beyond sippy cups. Disciple of Jesus cannot be satisfied with sips, just a taste. God graciously does give us tastes of heaven; tastes must fuel craving for the real thing.

Desire for tastes of heaven, craving for the real thing must be obvious Monday through Saturday as well as Sunday. How are you spending time and treasure? on what is limited to this life? or what you can take with you? Are you laboring to enlist fellow-travelers? living in such a way they want to go with you?

If you filled out time sheet – what you did, how much time – for what you’ve done past week, would God approve? Would God sign off on credit card statement? checkbook register? If you understand awfulness of sin & greatness of need from Sinai, God’s glorious provision at Calvary, wonders of heavenly Jerusalem that await us – should define how you worship, how you live each moment of every day.


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