By Barnabas Piper
Imagine going to a concert by an artist you love. You’re giddy to see your favorite band, whose performance is beyond anything you hoped for. Then you find out they are the opening band, and the real headliner is even better!
The events at Mount Sinai from Exodus 19—thunder, lightning, earth-shaking, God speaking, such manifest glory that the people of Israel are commanded not even to set foot on the mountain—is a bit like that. They left the people of God, even Moses, in awe and fearful wonder. God revealed Himself, in His power and majesty, to establish His kingdom through His people, and it was frightfully magnificent.
But it was not permanent. Rather, it was the preliminary, the introduction to the true kingdom that would come. Hebrews calls this new kingdom “Mount Zion…the city of the living God…a festive gathering” (Hebrews 12:22). The first kingdom was built on things that could be shaken, things that would pass away (the old covenant and the law), but this kingdom is built on an unshakeable eternal foundation. Isaiah promises “The Lord has sworn with his right hand and his strong arm….they will be called the Holy People, the LORD’s Redeemed; and you will be called Cared For, A City Not Deserted” (Isaiah 62:8,12). Whereas the kingdom established at Sinai was conquered and even sent into exile, the kingdom of Zion will never end.
This new kingdom is established by Christ, ruled over by Christ, and we have access to it by believing in Christ as our savior through His work on the cross (Ephesians 1:19–21). This new kingdom is not less majestic than the old. Because it is eternal, because Christ is King, because it offers grace, and because it is a gathering of all God’s people for all time, it is more majestic. This is why the writer of Hebrews concludes with, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28). We receive this kingdom. It is a gift from God, through Christ, to any who believes, and we respond with glad and reverent worship all our days.
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