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PGA Chaplain Bible Studies

Weekly Bible Study - Study 49 - Hebrews Chapter 12:18-24
- From distance to closeness

 “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. 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 men, to the spirits of righteous men 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 Ch 12: verses 22 to 24)(New International Version)

From distance to closeness

Recently I tried to explain the game of cricket to a couple of young Asian Australian golfers and they couldn’t appreciate the subtitles of our national sport. I know a lot of women who also think it is a boring sport. It’s a little like vegemite; you have to grow up with things like vegemite and cricket to appreciate their value.

Such an experience is similar to the approach to the Old Testament in our bibles. Many Christians find it hard to understand and appreciate the Old Testament, so they ignore it. A number of people have said to me that they try to avoid the Old Testament because it seems so different to the New Testament. However the letter of Hebrews is written to an audience that were steeped in the Old Testament as a way of life. Rather than ignoring the Old Testament our writer seeks to show how much better life is now that Jesus has come.

In our reading this week the setting is the gathering of the people before God. In verses 18 to 21 that are prior to our typed reading above, the Old Testament is illustrated when God first revealed himself to the nation at Mount Sinai. It was an overwhelming experience marked by distance, fear and darkness with God. It is true generally that distance between God and his people is stressed because of sin in the Old Testament. There is no greater example of this than the Temple in Jerusalem with its sacrifices and sections and restrictions leading to the Holy of Holies where only a high Priest once a year was to enter. It is sad that today some people still think of God in these terms.

However since Jesus has now come and dealt with sin, that distance has been removed! There is a joy and festival spirit in the verses typed above that come from living close to God through Jesus. It is Jesus who has made this difference in encouraging us to draw close to God in his life and ministry. Paul in the New Testament describes this same truth when he says: “we have gained access by faith into the grace in which we now stand.” (See Romans Chapter 5).

It is unfair if we only think of the Old Testament in this way described above, because there were moments of joy and closeness to God for people and the nation. However prior to Jesus our sins were never dealt with properly. Now that they have, the mood is one of celebration every time we meet as followers of Jesus.

It is my hope that there is joy in our hearts when we approach God because the emphasis is now on our God who encourages us to draw close to him, and al thanks to Jesus.

Prayer. Holy God, thank you for Jesus who enables us to draw close to you. Amen.

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