Useful Bible Studies > Hebrews Commentary > chapter 12

The New Jerusalem

Hebrews 12:22

In Hebrews chapter 12, the author gives two descriptions of the place where God is present. As in Galatians 4:24-26, he contrasts two mountains: Sinai and the New Jerusalem.

The author described Sinai in Hebrews 12:18-21. On that mountain, God gave his commands. The people were very afraid. They understood that his standards are perfect. Nobody can achieve a right relationship with God by their own efforts. It is a terrible thing for an unholy person to be near the place where God is present.

But that is not the kind of relationship that Christians have with God. God has forgiven their evil deeds, so they approach him as his children. And God receives them with love.

So in Hebrews 12:22-24, the author gives a second description of the place where God is present. It is a beautiful description of a wonderful place. But this place is not for everyone. It is only for those people who have invited God into their lives. They have confessed their evil deeds to God, and God has forgiven them because of Jesusí death. They are Godís children, not his enemies (Ephesians 2:12-13). And God has prepared a wonderful home for them (John 14:2; Revelation 21:1-4).

This place has three names. Firstly, it is Ďthe mountain called Zioní. In ancient times, the top of a mountain (or hill) was a good place to build a city. The mountain made the city safe and strong against its enemies, so all Godís people are safe here. Zion was the hill in Jerusalem where Godís house called the temple stood (Psalm 134:3). It became, as here, another name for Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:1).

Secondly, this place is the Ďcity of the God who is always aliveí. It is a city, and not just a building, so there is room for all Godís people there. Ezekiel wrote that the city would be called by Godís name (Ezekiel 48:35). It is not merely a place that God visited, like Sinai. It is the place where God lives with his people (Revelation 21:3).

Thirdly, it is Jerusalem, the city of peace. But it is not the present city called Jerusalem, which belongs to this earth (Galatians 4:25-26). It is the New Jerusalem that John described (Revelation chapters 21 and 22). It belongs to heaven, and it will come from heaven (Revelation 21:2). That wonderful city will always be peaceful. And there Godís people will have their permanent home (Revelation 22:5; Hebrews 11:16)

Next part: Citizens of the New Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:23)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.