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.
“You have come” — proseleluthate in Greek, from which we get the word proselyte or convert — introduces this wonderful description of the communion into which all Christians step as soon as they become Christian by putting their trust in Jesus and acknowledging him as Lord.
In the verses that precede this morning’s three verses, the author of the letter reminds his readers that, under the old covenant, Mount Sinai was where the Israelites met with God — “a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm” (Hebrews 12.18). But once you enter the new covenant, he now tells them, you come to a different mountain altogether. It is a spiritual mountain corresponding to the Mount Zion here below on which is built the city of Jerusalem. You come to the heavenly Jerusalem, he tells them; the Jerusalem that Paul calls “the Jerusalem that is above” (Galatians 4.26) and the Jerusalem that John describes so wonderfully in Revelation 21 and 22 — the city of the living God.
You come also to a myrias of angels, he says — literally “a ten-thousand” but used here to signify an innumerable company of angels. When Daniel in his vision of the night saw the Ancient of Days, seated in heaven, he saw that “thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him” (Daniel 7.10). And amazingly, I, as one who belongs to Jesus have come to that joyful assembly — belong with it this morning just as I belong in the heavenly city. Why? Because I belong to “the church of the firstborn”.
Jesus is the “firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1.15), the “firstborn from among the dead” (Colossians 1.18), and the “firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8.29) — one of whom am I. When I come to Jesus, I come to and become part of a fellowship of those whose names are written in heaven — written in “in the Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21.27). This is the whole company of Christians still living on this earth. “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven,” Jesus told his followers (Luke 10.20). But I come too to “the spirits of righteous men made perfect” — the spirits of what are sometimes called “the faithful departed”; the saints of both covenants in whom the work of Jesus is now complete.
And I come to God himself. The “judge of all men”, yes, but not a judge who will condemn me, for there, in the throne room, standing with me is “Jesus the mediator of a new covenant”, and there too is his “sprinkled blood”. It brings cleansing, forgiveness, reconciliation. Where Abel’s blood, shed by his brother Cain, called out for vengeance, the shed blood of Jesus calls out for God’s mercy towards me and his redeeming grace.
Sometimes, in this time of quiet in a morning, I feel alone with God; but not this morning! Thousands of angels singing with joy, thousands of Christians worldwide, and thousand of saints in heaven … all telling me I belong because of the blood of Jesus and the life it has given me, and all welcoming me as I join them in their worship.