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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Series C

Option #1: "A Tale of Two Mountains"
Hebrews 12:18-24
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

 I. Mt. Sinai--the Mountain of Law: vv18-21, Ex 20:18-20

II. Mt. Zion--the Mountain of Good News: vv22-24, Gal 4:26; Ps 48:2; Micah 4:1-2


Vincent’s Word Studies:

The festal assembly of angels maintains the contrast between the old and the new dispensation. The host of angels through whose ministration the law was given (see on 2:2, and see on Galatians 3:19) officiated at a scene of terror. Christian believers are now introduced to a festal host, surrounding the exalted Son of man, who has purged away sins, and is enthroned at God’s right hand (1:3).

The mention of blood naturally follows that of a covenant, since no covenant is ratified without blood (9:16). The phrase is sufficiently explained by 9:16-22.

Speaketh better things--kreitton lalounti 

For "better things" rend "better." The blood is personified, and its voice is contrasted with that of Abel, whose blood cried from the ground for vengeance upon his murderer (Genesis 4:10). The voice of Christ’s blood calls for mercy and forgiveness.

MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: Hebrews:

Mount Zion--The Grace of the Gospel

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. (12:22-24) The mountain of the New Covenant is Mount Zion, representing the heavenly Jerusalem. The opposite of Sinai, it is not touchable, but it is approachable. Sinai symbolizes law and Zion symbolizes grace. No man can be saved by the law, but any man can be saved by grace. The law confronts us with commandments, judgment, and condemnation. Grace presents us with forgiveness, atonement, and salvation.

Whereas Sinai was forbidding and terrifying, Zion is inviting and gracious. Sinai is closed to all, because no one is able to please God on Sinai’s terms--perfect fulfillment of the law. Zion is open to all, because Jesus Christ has met those terms and will stand in the place of anyone who will come to God through Him. Zion symbolizes the approachable God.

Sinai was covered by clouds and darkness; Zion is the city of light. "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth" (Ps 50:2). Sinai stands for judgment and death; Zion for forgiveness and life, "for there the LORD commanded the blessing--life forever" (Ps 133:3).

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Children's Message

Visual: pictures of the two mountains


I don’t know how much traveling you’ve done, but two of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen are out in Washington and Oregon. Thousands of people travel there because of the mountains there. Mt. Hood is the mountain in Oregon, and Mt. Rainier is the one in Washington. They are magnificent sights in all their snow-capped beauty--even in the Summertime.

One of the Bible readings for today also is about two mountains. One was Mt. Sinai; that’s where God gave the people the Ten Commandments. There was so much smoke and fire and such a loud trumpet sounding that the people were terrified. This is what happened: (Exo 20:18) When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19) and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die." They were very afraid of God’s power and of sinning against him. Imagine a mountain where a volcano is erupting. You’d want to get far away from there in a hurry.

Moses was the man who spoke to God for the people and who spoke to the people for God. When Moses was getting old, God made a promise that someone else very special would have the same job and more. The Bible says: (Deu 18:18) I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.

When Jesus came, he told us that his words were not his own; they came directly from God the Father. And this is where the second mountain comes in. It wasn’t enough that Jesus just give us the Father’s Word; we also needed a Savior. He died on Mt. Calvary in the City of Jerusalem which is called Mt. Zion. He came so close to us that he took every one of our sins upon himself and died for them on that terrible cross.

When your sins make you tremble, as well they should, always remember that Jesus came to another mountain to pay for them there. And when he paid for them, he paid the price in full; you and I don’t have to make any more payments for our sins. Jesus paid it all, once and for all.

Thank God for Jesus, our Savior!

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Option #2: "God's Gated Community"
Luke 13:22-30
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

The Point: only those who struggle with and are known by God will be saved
The Problem: assumed knowledge, fellowship, and place with God
The Promise: Jesus said, "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved." (John 10:9)
1. The way is narrow--we can't bring our self-centeredness, pride, lusts, hate or especially our own righteousness. As the famous hymn states: "Nothing in my hand I bring, only to Thy cross I cling." Therefore, we must strive (the word is literally agonize) in order to lay these things aside and come in. The Greek word for strive has "the idea of a struggle or prize-fight" (Bruce). Strive to enter through the narrow gate isn't a call to save yourself by good works. Good works aren't the right gate. You can strive to enter all your life long, but if it isn't at the right gate, it makes no difference. Jesus Himself is the gate; He is the door. Then why must we strive to enter? Because there are a lot of obstacles on the way. The world is an obstacle. The devil is an obstacle. But probably the worst obstacle is your own flesh. (David Guzik)
2. ...a narrow door..will not permit a person to bring along with him all the baggage he would like to have near him. In other words, one must say good-by to one's pet sins and forbidden enjoyments to be a member of God's family... The trouble with the many who will seek to enter but fail is that their seeking is either not of the right kind (sincere following of Jesus is lacking) or is undertaken too late. Heaven is a gift of divine grave, but accepting the gift and clinging to it imply a constant struggle with the forces of evil inside and outside ourselves seeking to induce us to refuse or drop the gift. (William Arndt)

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