MOUNT ZIONCopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
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 12:22-24)
But you have come to Mount Zion. Notice the tense of the verb, "you have come." This agrees with the following statement:
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)
I honestly believe we do not emphasize enough the fact that the spirit of the true Christian already is with Christ at the right hand of God.
To grasp the true import of this fact we must realize that Heaven is not far off in another galaxy somewhere. The spirit world is all around us. If our eyes were opened we could see that we already are in the new Jerusalem, that is, if we are abiding in Christ.
Our spirit is now in Mount Zion. Because on earth we are surrounded with the temptations of the flesh, we must keep our attention fixed on our spiritual environment. For myself, I pray continually that God will keep my heart focused on things above, on the heavenly city. You and I are there now if we are living in Christ as we ought.
We "died" means that our natural life on the earth is not to be regarded as our true life. Our true life is the Life of Christ by which we are to live. God helps us each day by crucifying some aspect of our self-life so that the resurrection Life of the Lord might take its place.
Jesus Himself is the Resurrection and the Life. So as He is formed in us, resurrection and eternal life are formed in us. Our former animal life is counted as dead and is passing away day by day.
This does not mean, however, that we neglect our family or our necessary duties. It signifies, rather, that we care for our family and perform our necessary duties by referring constantly to the Lord, Jesus, talking to Him about each decision we make.
To the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. If my understanding is correct, the spirit world indeed is a vast realm. All the spirits of people who have lived at one time on the earth are there now.
In the spirit world there is a city, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. This is where God's elect, the Royal Priesthood, live. They are coming to perfection there. They remain in the holy city unless they begin to yield to sinful impulses. If they do begin to sin, to turn away from Christ, and do not repent, they are removed from the city.
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Revelation 22:14,15)
Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, is the same when in the spirit world as it will be when it descends to the new earth. It is the home of God's elect the Royal Priesthood. It is the government of the Kingdom of God.
No sin of any kind ever is allowed in the holy city.
Here is my point. Mount Zion, the city of God, currently in the spirit world, is what we mean by "Heaven." Heaven is not what we picture today, a place where people are laying around in their mansions doing nothing for eternity. Heaven is Mount Zion, the city of the living God.
Heaven includes thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly; the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven; God, the judge of all men; the spirits of righteous men made perfect; Jesus the mediator of a new covenant; and the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Have you ever wondered what Heaven is like? Well, there it is!
In order to enter Heaven we have to wash our robes. We do not wash our robes just once. We are to wash them every time we behave in a manner that is not of the image of God. We confess what we have done, as the Spirit of God brings our rebellious act or attitude to our attention, we confess it as sin and then thoroughly renounce and denounce it, calling upon Jesus for help. It is our determination that never again for eternity shall we behave in that manner.
Jesus will assist us with our determination.
Confessing and turning away from sin is the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement. It has begun now, and will continue for eternity as far as I know. It is an eternal judgment of disobedient spirits.
There can be no disobedience of any kind whatever in the Kingdom of God. Those who yield to the sinful nature shall not inherit the Kingdom of God, not by grace, or mercy, or any other means!
You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly. Angels fulfill numerous roles in the Kingdom of God, from music and the arts, to warfare. As far as I know, each one of us has been assigned one or more angels to protect and assist us.
We never are to worship angels or attempt to communicate with them, much less try to direct them. They belong to God. They are His angels. He appoints them as He will.
When we see an individual who is extremely talented in the arts, or science, or business, or warfare, we can be certain that his or her angel is at work.
Angels are a race different from ours. They are intelligent and can communicate. But it appears they have no soul like ours and therefore cannot make moral judgments. They rejoice when God's will is done and when a sinner repents.
Angels have neither wings nor gender, as far as I can tell. Yet there are warrior angels, and also angels who serve as "mothers" to aborted fetuses. But I do not believe they are male or female as we customarily employ those terms.
The church of the firstborn. Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, is the Church of the Firstborn, the Christian Church. The term "firstborn" reveals that we are at the very beginning of the eternal Kingdom that God has in mind.
The Lord Jesus is the Firstborn from the dead. He is different from us in several ways. I think the Apostle Paul expressed the supremacy of the Lord Jesus in an unequaled manner:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)
Having established Jesus Christ as the Head of all things in the creation, and the One by whom all things consist, let us pursue the idea that He is the Firstborn.
The term "first" implies that there are others to be born. Romans tells us that God has called us to be the brothers of Christ. There is awesome implications in this statement. This declaration indicates that we are called not only to be rescued from wrath but to be changed until we rightfully can be considered as Christ's brothers.
There is no need for us to feel exalted at this point. It is true rather that God is enlarging His family of sons who will work alongside of Christ in establishing and maintaining the vast number of kingdoms of people who will be brought forth in the ages to come.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. (Isaiah 9:6,7)
Whose names are written in heaven. The name of every true Christian is written in Heaven and known to the angels of God. If we deny Christ before people, our name will be removed. It will not be confessed before God.
You have come to God, the judge of all men. Jesus stated that the Father judges no man, He has committed all judgment to the Son. The Son has delegated the authority of judgment to the sons. We shall judge the world, and also angels.
The warfare against evil, which began when Satan rebelled against God, and will continue until the final resurrection, requires judgment. Those who are living by the Life of Jesus today, abiding in Him at all times, are being revealed before the Judgment Seat of Christ in the present hour. This eternal judgment, which actually is against rebellious spirits and not people as such, will continue until we are ready to be raised from the dead when Jesus next appears from Heaven.
However, if people insist on agreeing with the unclean spirits, then they suffer the fate of these rebellious spirits.
When we have been judged, we then will be qualified to judge others, as Christ directs us.
The spirits of righteous men made perfect. "Righteous men" are the believers whom the Lord Jesus is making new creations of righteous behavior. While yet living on the earth, their spirits are in the heavenly Jerusalem, being made perfect as their souls on the earth are purified by various fiery temptations and tests.
Jesus the mediator of a new covenant. It appears to me that the difference between the Law of Moses and the new covenant is not understood as clearly as one could wish.
The Law of Moses is to be read and obeyed. If the believer breaks one of the statutes, he or she is required to bring an animal to make atonement for the sin.
The new covenant includes the New Testament writings, which we are to obey as God helps us. No passage of Scripture can be interpreted and applied correctly unless the believer asks for assistance from the Lord Jesus.
But obedience to the New Testament commands, as vital to our salvation as they are, are not the new covenant. They enable us to enter the new covenant, but they themselves are not the new covenant.
The new covenant is in effect when the eternal moral law of God begins to be written in our mind and heart. This is the rising of the Morning Star in our heart that the Apostle Peter refers to.
And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (II Peter 1:19)
Thus it can be seen that the new covenant is vastly superior to the Law of Moses in that it changes the personality of the believer into conformity to the eternal moral law of God.
Some today, who desire to live righteously and please God, are returning to the Ten Commandments. Their desire is commendable.
For example, they stress the Sabbath commandment that we cease working on Saturday.
However, as is true in all the other commands of the Law of Moses, the Sabbath command is fulfilled under the new covenant in a greatly enlarged manner. Instead of our devoting one day a week in which we seek to speak and act in a worshipful manner, the Sabbath rest is expanded to include our living by the Life of the Lord Jesus at all times, in every circumstance.
Such is the "rest of God" set forth in the fourth chapter of the Book of Hebrews.
The sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. The blood of Abel told the Lord that Cain had murdered him.
The blood of Jesus, sprinkled before the Presence of the Father in Heaven, reconciles to God every person who will place his or her trust in the blood atonement made on the cross of Calvary. This certainly is a better word than that spoken to the Lord from the ground.
I guess my main point in writing about the heavenly Mount Zion is that we need to set our attention there throughout the day and night. With so many things to distract us in America today, we just have to keep praying that God will lift our thoughts into the heavenlies.
We do have some mythologic thoughts about what it will be like when we die and "go to Heaven." The truth is, our spirit already is with Christ in God. We already are in the heavenly Jerusalem if we are washing our robes, our behavior, in the reconciling blood of the Lamb.
I would like to mention once again the war against evil, the war that began when Satan and his angels rebelled against the Father.
I would say we are about halfway through the war against evil. We have come to a major step forward as the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement, Day of Reconciliation, has begun operating. We are confessing and renouncing all the spiritual darkness that is in us as we press toward the image of God.
The next major step will be the return of the Lord and the raising from the dead of those who have prepared themselves by washing their robes.
He will raise such from the dead and then catch them up to Himself in the clouds. There they will mount the white war stallions and return with Christ to destroy His enemies out of the earth and install the Kingdom of God in their place.
Unfortunately, this will not be the end of sin and self-will. After a thousand years of the rulership of Christ and His saints over the earth, Satan will be released from the Bottomless Pit. Satan shall be able to deceive the nations into rebelling against the Lord Jesus and His saints.
Can you imagine! After a thousand years of righteous government, the nations still can be persuaded that they can govern themselves better than Christ can, just as is true in the world today.
God will destroy the rebels, the earth and the heavens shall pass away, and the final judgment shall take place. The wicked shall be thrown into the Lake of Fire. I assume that those whose names were found written in the Book of Life will be brought over to citizenship on the new earth.
If I am correct, even after the new Jerusalem has come from Heaven to serve on the earth as the government of the Kingdom of God, sin and rebellion still will be possible. There will be no influence from Satan, the Antichrist, or the False Prophet, and people will have no sin nature, just as was true of Adam and Eve. But people and angels always shall have a will of their own. They always shall be able to obey or disobey Christ.
I think provision will be made to correct the disobedience, such as a field trip to see the result of disobedience to Christ.
"As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the Lord, "so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the Lord.
"And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind." (Isaiah 66:22-24)
As mankind increases until there is no more room on the new earth, people will have to migrate to the new stars which shine by the Light of Christ and His saints. These worlds will be Paradise, as was true on the earth at the beginning. Paradise will be brought forth and maintained by Christ and His brothers.
Please keep in mind, that one self-centered, rebellious individual would ruin the grandest Paradise. This is why God permits the present earth, which is the valley of the shadow of death, to continue in its agony and spiritual vomit. God is perfecting saints who will insure that rebellion against God's King, the Lord Jesus Christ, will never, never again disturb the righteousness, love, peace, and joy of God's creation.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.