Abrahamic Covenant Part 18

John Plunkett
September 5, 2015

This is Part 18 – the "grand finale" – of our Abrahamic Covenant series!
I gave Part 1 way back on July 19, 2014; so we have been going through it for a long time.  I believe that this indicates the magnitude of the subject and how important it is – how central it is to the very core of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

At the end of Part 17, we read the first fifteen verses of Hebrews 12.  In those verses we read about God, through the author of the Book of Hebrews, giving all his readers through the centuries since then a series of instructions of what we must do on our side of the covenant agreement in order to receive its wonderful blessings.  

I am not preahing salvation by works; but there are things that we have to do!  It is a covenant – an agreement – which states what God covenants to do on His side of it; and here is some of what we have to do.  Just to bring us up to speed from last time, I would like to quickly repeat my paraphrased list of those Hebrews 12 instructions:

Now, let’s rejoin the author of the book of Hebrews as he returns to the subject and context of the Abrahamic Covenant – going all of the way back to the time of Jacob and Esau. 

What he is telling us here is that, if we fail to heed the list of instructions from God that we've just read, our Coach is going to give us another warning of what the outcome will be.  This is serious stuff!:

Hebrews 12:16:
Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

If we refuse to heed our Coach’s loving advice, or if we refuse to adequately train for the great race that is always ahead of us, or if we give up the race too easily, here is what we are going to be compared to: 

Fornicators!  Symbolic of members of the affianced Bride of Christ being deceived and lured into having illicit relations with other spiritual "lovers" – other gods – false gods – prior to our upcoming marriage to Jesus Christ.  That is what spiritual fornication is.  (Please compare Revelation 19:7-9; 21:2-9; 22:17 with Revelation 2:14-22; 9:21; 14:8; 17:2-4; 18:3-9; 19:2).

He says that if we don’t heed His instructions, we will become profane people!  The Greek word for profane is bebelos (Strong’s 952), which can mean: things only fit to be trodden upon, unhallowed, common or ungodly things!

But look what He says who we specifically will be compared to if we don’t heed His instructions.  To Esau!  Not Jacob!  Not Israel!  We will no longer be spiritual Israelites if we neglect those things.  Rather, we will become spiritual Esau-ites or Edomites!

Then what?

17:  For you know that afterward, when he {Esau} wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

Do we want to be like Esau?  Do we want to be rejected from receiving the Abrahamic Covenant?  Do we want to be rejected from receiving our share in the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant?  I'm sure that we don’t.

I'm very well aware that there is a saying that says “It ain’t over til it’s over.”  And, of course, in some instances, this may be true.  But verse 17 that we just read, and other statements right from Jesus Christ Himself, tell us that, in certain cases, there is a "cut-off time" for repentance.  I'm not saying that it is today, tomorrow, or anything like that.  I don't know when it is in any individual circumstances.

However, in Esau’s case, once he had despised the precious birthright and blessing (Genesis 25:34), and once he gave them up to his brother Jacob, and once it was sealed by the dying Isaac passing the Abrahamic Covenant blessings on to Jacob, that was it!  No matter how much Esau blubbered, the "deal" couldn’t be reversed!  The time and the opportunity for Esau's repentance was over!  So Esau lost out and the Abrahamic Covenant promises were permanently diverted from Esau’s lineage to Jacob’s lineage! 

The lesson here is as Jesus tells us through the apostle John:

Revelation 3:11:  
Behold, I come quickly: Hold that fast which you have, that no man take your crown.

What crowns we have been given!  All the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant and the New Covenant!

What Jesus is warning us through the Hebrews author and here through John is that life is short, and "if you snooze, you lose"! 

We need to learn the lesson from Esau’s mistake.  Yes, Jacob was a trickster.  Maybe we don’t have a spiritual tricky Jacob lurking around the corner, waiting for us to slip up, so that he can grab our crowns and rewards.  We have something far worse!  What we have lurking around our corner is an even more wily being.  And you know that that is!  Satan the devil, who wants nothing more than to see us all lose our rewards.  So we all have to be on the alert lest we fail to value the precious New Covenant promises. 

If any one of God’s people anywhere in the world were to fail in this way, and if he or she were to go past "the repentance deadline" – whenever God might deem that to be, He will call another person – a person who values the rewards more than the person who gave up his/her reward did, and will give that crown to that new, replacement person.  

There are some serious warnings in there.  I am not trying to frighten anybody, nor to preach bad news.  But these loving warnings are all part of the good news.

Next, the author of the book of Hebrews fast-forwards from the time of Jacob and Esau to the time of Moses and Aaron, specifically to the time of the giving of the Sinai Covenant.  He is once again comparing the New Covenant with the Sinai Covenant:

Hebrews 12:18:
For you 
{referring the Christians back then and to us} are not come unto the mount {Sinai} that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest...

This is referring to Exodus 19:

Exodus 19:18: 
And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.

As detailed in a previous episode of this series, we Christians are not come to Mount Sinai, nor to the temporary Sinai Covenant and its sacrificial laws, which Galatians 4 calls the “Hagar covenant.” 

Please also note the mentions of burning and fire, which we see again shortly. 

Hebrews 12:19:
And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them anymore: 

This refers to the fearsome sounds of the trumpet and the voice that were recorded in Exodus 19 and 20. 

Hebrews 12:20:
For they could not endure that which was commanded, and if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:

There are two parts to the phrase, “they could not endure that which was commanded.”

Initially, the Israelites were totally unable to endure the terrifying method by which God communicated these Sinai Covenant commands to them.  

But secondly, after a very short time under the Sinai Covenant, they proved themselves unable to endure the commanded Sinai Covenant laws themselves.

Hebrews 12:21:
And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I exceedingly fear and quake.”

The time of the transmission of the Sinai Covenant laws must have been pretty scary stuff if it even had that effect on Moses who was so close to God at that time!

But, as we were told in verse 18, we New Covenant Israelites are not come to the repetition of the old, obsolete, “Mount-Sinai-Hagar” covenant; and thankfully not to its terrifying transmission methods which were accompanied by thunder, lightning, smoke, earthquake, fire and the deafening blasts of the trumpet of God. 

This is my own speculation; but I believe that there might be a parallel – perhaps a God-inspired precursor – of this when the LORD passed by Elijah and there was a strong, mountain-rending, rock-smashing wind, earthquake and fire.  But when He actually came to Elijah to communicate with him, He did so through a still, small voice.

I believe that the comparison between the experiences of Moses and Elijah might be very valid. Let’s look first at Moses’ experience at Sinai – after the thunder, lightning, smoke, earthquake and fire mentioned in Exodus 19:18:

Exodus 19:19:
And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by a voice.

Now, Elijah’s experience:

I Kings 19:
9:  And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said unto him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”…
11:  Then He said, "Go out, and stand on the mountain before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake;
12:  and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
13:  So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

Despite the fact that God has chosen to speak to his beloved New Covenant children by His still, small voice, rather than by the violent means that He used to gain the ancient Israelites’ attention, still, we need to heed His warnings and to learn the lessons that stem from the Israelites’ wrong approach to the Sinai Covenant.  We must have a proper fear, reverence, and respect for Him, and we must heed His warnings.

Please remember the voice that we have read about here, because we’ll be seeing mention of it again soon.

If we, the people of New Covenant spiritual Israel, are not come to Mount Sinai, the Sinai Covenant, and its fearsome,
violent transmission from the LORD, what are we come to? 

God tells us here in the next three verses of |Hebrews 12:

Hebrews 12:22:
But you are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels.

As opposed to the obsolete Mount-Sinai-Hagar Covenant, we are come to the Mount-Zion-Sarah Covenant... and to the city of the living God – the very same city that Abraham looked for and saw in vision – the city that has real, solid, spiritual foundations.  This is the Holy City that has been – or perhaps is still being – prepared, made and built by God Himself (Hebrews 11:10, 16).

What else are we come to?  We are come…

23: to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect

We have to be careful with this verse.  We don’t believe in ghosts; but there are many other scriptures that reveal that the human spirits of all deceased men and women – both the just and the unjust – return to God who gave them – to be kept in storage in heaven until the time of their resurrection – whether the first or the second.

But what about the "just men" mentioned here?  Have they actually been "made perfect" yet? 

No.  Not yet.  In fact, they haven’t yet been made totally “just” either!  

However, if they died “in the faith” and with God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in them, they will be perfected and fully justified at the instant of their resurrection.  (How we all yearn to see our beloved brethren in the resurrection).

What else are we come to?

24a:  and to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant...

Please keep in mind who is the only Mediator of the New Covenant... because it’ll come up again in a minute or two.  No human being in the New Covenant is our mediator.  Jesus Christ is the only Mediator between us and God the Father.

Although it is so hard for us to get our limited human minds around, Jesus revealed to John in the final pages of the Book of Revelation that the Holy City and its Temple are to be one and the same as God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the resurrected, perfected, spiritual Bride of Christ. 

What else are we come to? 

24b: ... and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks {there’s that voice again!} better things than that {the blood} of Abel.

This "blood of sprinkling" is obviously the blood of Jesus Christ, which is the anti-type and the fulfillment of all of the animal blood that was sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place every year on the Day of Atonement, plus all of the shed blood of all of the millions of animal sacrifices during those 1,400-odd years of the Sinai Covenant period. 

Jesus’ blood (which we accented a couple of months ago) puts forth a better – a far superior – message than the message put forth by the blood of Abel.  

Even though Jesus Himself called Abel “righteous Abel,” still, Jesus’ blood is better and more effective than Abel’s blood. 

But what was the “voice-message” that was sent forth by Abel’s blood? 

There were actually two quantities of blood that came from Abel:

The first was the blood of his animal sacrifice – which was a relatively better and superior sacrifice than that of his brother Cain.  Abel's sacrifice was symbolic of his own comparative righteousness; but also of Cain’s unrighteousness. 

The second quantity of blood that came from Abel was his own blood that was shed by his unrighteous, murderous brother, Cain; but which, as is implied here in this verse, was also symbolically inferior to the saving, atoning blood of Jesus. 

Even though Abel was righteous, he was still an imperfect sinner, whereas Jesus was both perfect and sinless.

The Genesis 4 account tells us that, when shed, Abel’s blood somehow – in some spiritual way that we cannot yet fully understand – “cried out” to the LORD God from the ground.   And it continued to “speak” right up to the time of the writing of the book of Hebrews.

How did the blood of Abel speak?

As we studied a couple of weeks ago, blood – especially the blood of human beings – is so very important to God.  The indication from the scriptures is that God receives some kind of “signal” every time human blood is shed – especially if it is shed fatally.  Perhaps it is some kind of signal that tells Him that such and such a person has died and that that person’s human spirit is on its way back to Him.

As far as we know, as well as being the first murder victim, Abel was also the very first human being to die a physical death.

So, just as “the first man Adam {who} was made a living soul” was symbolic of “the last Adam {who} was made a quickening spirit” (I Corinthians 15:45), so Abel – the first human being to die a physical death (specifically by having his blood violently shed) – was symbolic of Jesus, who was the first human being to die a physical death (also by having His blood brutally shed) but also to be resurrected to eternal life as a Spirit Being and a Son of God the Father. 

So they were pioneers in different ways.  Abel in a physical way, through his death and shedding of blood.  And Jesus in a spiritual way.

Still thinking about the voice of God speaking to the Israelites – both physical and spiritual – now comes a warning – a loving warning from God – spoken to us all via the Hebrews author:

25a:  See that you refuse {avoid or reject} not Him that speaks.  For if they escaped not who refused {avoided or rejected} Him that spoke on earth...

This loving, but firm, warning compares the attitudes of the physical Israelites at the very beginnings of the Sinai Covenant with those required of the spiritual Israelites in the early and later years of the New Covenant. 

Some of you might remember that, back at the beginning of August, Warren Lee gave a sermon entitled “The Power of Words” in which he accented the importance of words – both spoken and written – and in both positive and negative ways.

The words “speaks” and “spoke” in this first part of verse 25 refer back to verses 19 and 20 which mention:

“the voice of words {Greek "Rhema"} which voice they that heard intreated that the word {N.B. Greek "Logos"} should not be spoken to them any more: (for they could not endure that which was commanded”... 

Just a reminder that the "they" here is, of course, referring to the Israelites at Sinai.

Please notice that they didn’t want the Word – the Logos! – to be spoken to them any more! They refused to hear it!

Let’s just go back and take a quick look at what they actually said, because it is very relevant:

Exodus 20:19:
And they said unto Moses, “Speak you with us, and we will hear: but let not God
{Elohim} speak with us, lest we die.”

In his parting address to his Israelite brethren, Moses reminded them of their erroneous assumptions and what they had demanded at Sinai back then:

Deuteronomy 5:
24:  And you said: "Surely the LORD
our God
{YHVH-Elohim} has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire.  We have seen this day that God {Elohim} speaks with man; yet he still lives.
25:  Now therefore, why should we die?  For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God
{YHVH-Elohim} anymore, then we shall die.
26:  For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God
{Elohim} speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?
27:  You go near and hear all that the LORD our God
{YHVH-Elohim} may say, and tell us all that the LORD our God {YHVH-Elohim} says to you, and we will hear and do it.’

Then Moses continues with an remarkable and hard-hitting play on words (about words, saying, speaking, hearing and voices):

28:  And the LORD {YHVH} heard the voice of your words, when you spoke unto me; and the LORD {YHVH} said unto me, “I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto you: they have well said all that they have spoken.”

When the LORD said, “They have well said,” that didn’t mean that He was in any way pleased with the Israelites saying that they didn’t want to hear His voice or His words.  Pleased with them?  Nay!  He had considered putting them all to death because of their repeated faithlessness after all the miracles that He had repeatedly shown them.  Rather, because of their chronically sinful ways, He much preferred not to deal with them one-on-one at all; but rather to set up His Sinai Covenant with them through Moses.  

When I was reading those verses there, I purposely put a strong accent on the Hebrew words YHVH and Elohim because I want you to be crystal clear on exactly who it was who spoke to those Israelites.  Who was that Spokesman?  Who was that Logos?  

It was YHVH-Elohim – the LORD our God. 

But who was YHVH-Elohim?  Was it God the Father?  Or was it Jesus Christ?

Please remember what Jesus said in:

John 5:37:
And the Father Himself, which has sent me, has borne witness of me.  You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape.

We know that the Israelites did hear the voice of this YHVH- Elohim; so it certainly was not God the Father.

When Jesus said this, He wasn’t just referring to the Jews He was speaking to right there and then – those who were seeking to kill him.  In its broadest sense, He was clearly referring to all mankind; but perhaps specifically in that case, He was referring to His Old Covenant people of Israel, of whom those Jews were one part.

In addition to many other scriptures, this one gives us clear proof that the human Jesus Christ was one and the same person as the YHVH of Old Testament times.  He was the Word, the Logos, the Spokesman of:

John 1:
1:  In the beginning was the Word
{Logos}, and the Word was with God {Theos}, and the word was God…
14:  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Please remember, from Hebrews 12:20, that the Israelites did not want the Word (Logos) to be spoken to them anymore; and that that Word was the Word of YHVH-Elohim.

In their fear of the voice and words of the LORD God, in their rejection of the voice and the words of the LORD God, the Israelites demanded that Moses act as a human mediator between them and Him.  And the LORD allowed it.  Hence, Moses became the human mediator of the Sinai Covenant.

But, as we also read back in verse 24, His New Covenant people are not allowed any such human mediator between us and Him.  The only mediator we are allowed is a spiritual one.  A God one!  Jesus Himself!  He is the one and only Mediator between us and God the Father.

We have no mediator between us and Jesus (YHVH).  Not any minister, Levite or priest.  We report directly to Jesus; and through Jesus to God the Father.

Please remember that we have been called to participate in God’s New Covenant at a time when He communicates with His children through His still small voice, not through the loud, violent, fierce winds, fires, earthquakes and blaring trumpets, as our Old Covenant forebears had to suffer through.  We should appreciate that blessing!  I don’t want to see that!  I don’t want to be scared out of my wits by those things!  One of the reasons that we need to appreciate the still, small voice now is because similar terrifying conditions are prophesied for the future.  And it is laid out right here.  Continuing, back in the second half of Hebrews 12:25, and still with the loving but firm warnings:

25b: ... Much more, we shall not escape, if we turn away from Him that speaks from heaven:

That’s a stern and scary warning!  If we turn away from the still, small voice of the Word (Logos) of God, we will also, by doing so, turn ourselves away from His protection in those danger-filled latter days; and we shall not be counted worthy to escape in the day of His wrath – the day that is implied in these scriptures – and even more so in many others – by fire!

This is God giving us a loving warning.  It is like us telling our children not to play with fire. 
Not because we are trying to be the big bosses; but because we don’t want them to burn themselves!

If we fail to heed these loving warnings, we won’t be considered worthy to escape the day of God's wrath.  That day that is implied in these scriptures and many others is going to be marked by fire!  And not only by fire; but also by an earthquake that will be triggered by the voice of God!

26:  Whose voice then shook the earth: but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.”

This is astonishing stuff!  God is saying that, in addition to this tremendous earthquake worse than we have ever seen before, He will also bring about an astonishing “heaven-quake”!  

I’m not sure; but I wonder if this could be referring to the time of the final ejection of Satan and his demons from heaven that is prophesied to take place in the end-times. 

27:  And this word “yet once more” signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Ultimately, likely after the second resurrection and Great White Throne Judgment periods, everything that can be shaken to bits in an earthquake – yes even in a heaven – will be dissolved by God’s purifying fire:

Isaiah 34:4:
All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled up like a scroll; all their host shall fall down as the leaf falls from the vine, and as fruit falling from a fig tree.

Isaiah 24:19:
The earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly.

Both Peter and Paul make mention of this time. Here’s what Peter has to say about it:

I Peter 3:
10:  But the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
11:  Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 
12:  Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

I don’t want to still be a human being when that day arrives!

Back to Hebrews 12:

28:  Wherefore we, receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 

He doesn’t want us quaking in our boots right now, so He is speaking to us with His still, small voice – His relatively soft voice.  If we can have a godly fear, heed His warnings and learn from the mistakes of the ancient Israelites, that is what He wants.

29: For our God is a consuming fire.

The ultimate rewards of the New Covenant – which are the same as the grace rewards of the Abrahamic Covenant – include the Kingdom of God, which is not just another physical kingdom.  It is a spiritual kingdom which cannot be moved, shaken or dissolved by fire.

Paul makes some succinct comparisons between the future of the physical things that can be dissolved by fire and that of the spiritual things that can’t:

II Corinthians 4:18:
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

II Corinthians 5:
1:  For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Our receiving of this is yet in the future.

2: For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

As we wind down this long Bible study, we all need to be groaning, yearning and “earnestly desiring to be clothed with our house which is from heaven,” which are, no doubt, similar to the clothes and house of the Lord of the covenants. 

Let’s finish off our study in Hebrews 13, where we read a brief summary of the main core elements of the very crux of both sides of the New Covenant. On God's side, Jesus’ death, blood and resurrection.  And our side, doing the things that will help us to work towards perfection by striving to do His will – not under our own power, of course; but enabled to do so by the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit:

Hebrews 13:
20:  Now the God of peace
{our loving Father}, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 
21:  Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.