The 12th chapter of Hebrews reminds me that the journey from Mt. Sinai to Mt. Zion is a course of sun drenched mountain tops, plenty, and the amazing bounty of God’s blessings. But it also winds down into valleys shrouded in darkness where there is little to remind one of his God.
Many of today’s most recognizable preachers would have us believe that if we are faith-filled people we should always live on the mountain top with all of its beauty and have money, the best clothes, nice cars and houses. After all if God loves you doesn’t he want you to prosper? Has he not promised it?
Today as I was meditating on God’s Word and thinking of a friend who is in a death match with cancer I was drawn to the wonderful book of Hebrews. It is true that we who are actively depending of Jesus Christ and the gospel promises about Him are living in Zion.
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)
Aren’t you thankful that we have experienced the grace of God in Christ and are living perhaps only a breath away from the heavenly Jerusalem? God has chosen to pitch his tent in us and to write his law on our hearts. What a blessed state!
The previous chapter, 11, is the chapter of the faithful. Those Old Testament heroes of the faith are listed with some of their accomplishments that proved their faith in God. Then near the end of the chapter it sums up those faith walkers.
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. (Hebrews 11:32-35)
These like Abel, Noah, Abraham and others saw the hand of God on their behalf in mighty ways. How good is our God! How faithful to his own! But…that is not the end of the chapter.
Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (Hebrews 11:35b-38)
These too were God’s faithful people. Some stop the mouths of lions while others are food for lions, both while living by faith in God. For some reason (that is quite obvious) we don’t hear much about this latter group of God’s own. But, they were God’s faithful servants none the less.
You see, while we really do live in the shadow of Mt. Zion, some of us receive a good report after chemo and radiation and some don’t. It says nothing about our great faith or lack of faith. It says nothing about our daily living as Christians before God. Both those who experienced some of God’s best blessings, and those who were sawed in two, trusted a sovereign God who does all things well.
We must “faith it ’til we make it“. Living by faith is not vindicated by what we can see with our physical eyes. God’s promises are true without regard for our present circumstances. It is maybe impossible for me to comprehend how it can be best for some of my friends to battle cancer…and loose. We must not get caught in the trap of allowing present circumstances to dictate to us our standing with God or his approval.
Life is very, very brief. As fast as a child’s breath on a school bus window is gone, that quickly we will one day someday see things from a different perspective. God sees the parade of our lives from start to finish, all at the same time, and treats us in love every step. We must not become weary in doing good, in trusting the best we can, and believing God will not fail us in the end.
Sooner than we might think we will sit at his table, whole and holy, with all of the faithful where there is only wonderful family with our God and his people. Not even a hint of darkness, sadness, tears, disappointment, restless nights…none of this will not even be a distant memory.
All of God’s promises are good and true. He always loves us and cares for us. Hang on to what you know and don’t worry about what you don’t know, it’s a short ride…