Hebrews 12:18-29

A picture of two mountains

18 You have come near to God. But you have not come to a place that you can touch, like Sinai mountain. That mountain burned with fire. But where the people stood, it was completely dark. They could not see at all. There was also a very strong wind and a storm. 19 There was the loud sound of a trumpet. There was a powerful voice that spoke to them. When the people heard that voice, they were very afraid. So they asked that the voice would not speak to them any more. 20 They were very afraid of what God had told them. God had said, ‘If even an animal touches the mountain, you must kill it with stones.’ 21 Even Moses was very afraid when he saw God's great power. He said, ‘I am full of fear!’

12:18Israel's people came near to Sinai mountain after they left Egypt. That was where Moses received God's laws for the people. See Exodus 19:10-25; Deuteronomy 4:11-12; 5:22-26.

22 But as believers in Christ, you have not come to God in that way. You have come to Mount Zion. You have come to the city of the true God who lives. You have come to the city of Jerusalem that is in heaven. There are many thousands of happy angels all together in that place. 23 All God's people meet together there. They are like his most important sons. They belong in heaven because God has written down their names. You have come to God himself, who will judge all people. You have come to the place where the spirits of God's people are. Those people have become right with God. God has now finished his work in them. 24 You have come to Jesus, who brought the new agreement from God to his people. In that agreement, the blood of Jesus' death makes us clean from our sins. It tells us that God has forgiven us. When Cain killed his brother Abel, Abel's blood brought God's punishment. So we see that Jesus' blood brought us something much better than that.

12:22The Bible often uses the name Zion to mean Jerusalem. But Christians belong to God's city in heaven. They belong with all of God's people, who will live with God for ever. Everyone who believed God in earlier times is also part of his people. Those people are dead now, and their spirits are with God. We are not dead yet. But it is like our spirits are already there too, with them.
12:24Jesus chose to die. But Abel died when his brother killed him. Abel's brother, Cain, killed Abel, and Abel's blood came out onto the ground. See Genesis 4:8-10. So Abel's blood only shows us about bad things. It shows us that God had to punish Cain. But Jesus died for us so that God does not have to punish us any more.

25 So be careful! Always be ready to listen when God speaks. God used Moses as his servant on the earth to speak to Israel's people. When they refused to obey, God punished them. They could not get away. As for us, God speaks to us from heaven. So we will certainly not get away from God's punishment if we turn away from him. 26 At Sinai mountain many years ago, God's voice caused the earth to shake. But now God has promised this: ‘Once again I will cause the earth to shake. But this time I will also cause heaven to shake.’ 27 These words, ‘once again,’ show us that God will take away the things that he has made. All things on the earth that he causes to shake will finish. After that, everything that nobody can shake will continue to be there.

12:27At some future time, God will destroy this earth that he has made. After that, he has promised to make a new earth and a new sky. See Isaiah 65:17; 66:22 and Revelation 21:1. All the things that we can see must come to an end. But the things that we cannot see are much, much more important. They will never come to an end. They include the place that God has prepared for us to live with him in heaven.

28 But we are receiving a place where we will rule with God. We belong to God's kingdom, and nobody can ever shake that! So we should thank God. We should worship him in a way that makes him happy. He is great, and we should serve him well and respect him. 29 Remember that our God is like a fire. He destroys everything that is not good.