By Al Stoner
"But you are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem" (Heb. 12:22).
The Blessed God. God is called in Scripture the blessed, or the happy God (I Tim. 1:11). The gospel that we have been given to preach is called the gospel of the blessed (happy, satisfied) God. The Presence of God is a place of abiding pleasures and fullness of joy (Ps. 16:11). It is truly joy unspeakable and full of glory. "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God, And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints (Rev. 15:2-3).
As the angels witnessed the creation of the world and the launching of the great human enterprise, they rejoiced together and shouted for joy (Job 38:3-7). As they behold the advancement of God's eternal purpose in Christ in the earth, they rejoice at the repentance and conversion of sinners (Lk. 2:9-14; Lk. 15:7-10; Mt. 18:13; Heb. 1:13-14; Rev. 19:10). It is only in earth that gatherings are of temporal significance (Act 17:18-21). And it is only in earth where gatherings can have a tendency towards that which is not good, and even have an evil intent (Mt. 12:14).
The Festal Occasion at Mt. Zion. It is only in earth where it is possible for personalities gathering together to be business-as-usual, routine, or even evil in their intent and consequences. In the Presence of God, and of Jesus, Mediator of the new covenant, and of the blood of sprinkling, there can be nothing but fulness of joy. It is inconceivable to think that amidst all of these personalities gathered together here at Mt. Zion, there could be anything less than great joy and gladness.
And it is only in earth where boredom, or the tendency to boredom, is even possible. Even in the best of earth's experience, we sense a need for change and variation. Even such things as legitimate distractions are but an acknowledgement that we are yet in the body. But there in that world, boredom in every sense of the word will become part of the former things, which will have passed away. There "the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes" (Rom. 7:17). "In Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16:11). (That blessed Presence has been made secure unto believing men because of the great price which has been paid by the Lord Jesus Christ.) Wherever there is change and variation there in that world, it is not owing to boredom, but rather to the fact that there is much more to see of the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Some of the significance of the gathering represented here: heretofore it was unthinkable that men and angels should be together in one place as congenial spirits and in an abiding sense. Prior to the putting away of sins by the sufferings of Christ, angels had to remain basically aloof from men, and sometimes even sometimes deal abruptly with men as if men were their foes.
But, here at Mt. Zion, we see men and angels together "with one accord in one place" (Acts 2:1) as fellowservants (Rev. 19:10). Here, in the Revelation 19 text, one of the holy angels is acknowledging John to be a fellowservant. This is a blessed demonstration of the marvelous and glorious work of the Savior, who died, and is now risen, and ascended to the right hand of the Majesty on high. The Lamb of God, truly, has borne our iniquities, and carried them away into a land where God remembers them no more. May His Name be praised forevermore!
The Permanence of Mt. Zion. This assembly here at Mt. Zion has an unshakeable, unchangeable permanence that shall endure into the endless ages to come. Those assembled here have not gathered to resolve an issue and then continue on with other matters, as noted elsewhere in the Scripture (cf. I Kgs. 22:19-23). They have gathered because the one great matter of significance throughout the ages has now been resolved, namely, it is that sin has been effectually and forever put away by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Those assembled here at Mt. Zion in order from greatest to the least: God, the Judge of all (Ps. 50:6; Ps. 75:7; Ps. 82:8; Rom. 2:16; Rom. 3:6; Heb. 13:4). As the Scripture declares, "And God Himself shall be with them" (Rev. 21:3). And again, "He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them" (Rev. 7:14). This is a marvelous consideration in itself considering all that we know about God from Moses and the Prophets, and from the Apostles' writings. In the words of David of old, those who have believed on the Son of God, are brought by grace to confess, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it” (Ps. 139:6).
Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant (Heb. 7:22; Heb. 8:6-8; I Tim. 2:5). A Mediator, not merely as an appointee, but as Emmanuel, God with us, He is an embodiment of everything that is needed to bring God and men together in an abiding union. And it was by the awful price that He paid in our behalf, nothing short of the bearing of our sins upon the tree, and His being separated from His Father because of our sins, that the permanence of this assembly was made sure. Those who are now living by faith in Christ are regularly confirmed and assured of this permanence, because Jesus ever lives at the right hand of God to make intercession for them. "NOW of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: we have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a Minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man"(Heb. 8:1-2).
The Blood of Sprinkling. This is Christ's blood, a blood that speaks good things to the conscience (Heb. 9:21; Heb. 10:22; Heb. 11:28; I Pet. 1:2). The blood of sprinkling is here because God, more than anyone else, is cognizant of our need for the necessary cleansing from sin and the purged conscience in order to dwell forever in His Presence. It was a matter of indispensable importance and consequence that Christ’s blood first be shed in our behalf. “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission” of sins. At the Lord’s table we regularly commemorate that blood as it was shed (cf. Mt. 26:28; Mk. 14:24; 22:20) for us. We, who believe, are justified by Christ’s blood (cf. Rom. 5:9). We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Heb. 10:9-10).
But God, who “knoweth all things” (I Jn. 3:20), foresaw that, if men were to greatly anticipate, and arrive safely in, the world to come, it would become equally essential that Christ's blood be sprinkled before the Presence of God as well. And just as the live goat was sent away into the wilderness by the hand of a “fit man” (Lev. 16:21), it would be necessary that the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ be sprinkled by the hand of a “fit Man” as well. It would be sprinkled by God's Son, unto whom it was said from ancient times, “Thou are a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (cf. Ps. 110:1-4). The blood would be sprinkled upon the mercy seat that is in the true tabernacle in the heavens. It is sprinkled for the purging of the consciences of those who are fighting the good fight of faith, and laying hold on eternal life. The blood is sprinkled so that believing men shall be enabled to fellowship with the Holy One even in the matter of their sins having been put away by the Lord Jesus Christ.
To an Innumerable Company of Angels. Throughout the history of this present world angels there have been evident Divine restraints prohibiting the society of angels and men. When sent on a mission to men of old, angels would expeditiously perform what they were sent to accomplish, and then swiftly return back to God's throne, from whence they had been dispatched.
Their native clime is the Presence of God. "And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left" (I Kgs. 22:19). "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven" (Mt. 18:10). "And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings" (Lk. 1:19).
"And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands" Rev. 5:11).
Their King is the Enthroned Christ. "Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come" (Eph. 1:20-21).
"Jesus Christ: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him" (I Pet.3:22) and they themselves are essentially servants, “sent forth to minister to those who shall be the heirs of salvation” (Heb. 1:13). "A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened" (Dan. 7:10).
"Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Heb. 1:14). Their love and devotion to the living God are unwavering, their zeal is unflagging, and their greatness in power and might "Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word" (Ps. 103:20). "Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire" (Ps. 104:4)."And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels" (II Th. 1:7), "Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord" (II Pet. 2:11). It soon becomes evident from a consideration of the sacred record that the holy angels are focused entirely upon carrying out the will of God.
This has been, more or less, a summary of some of the primary things the Scripture says about "the holy angels" (Mt. 25:31), giving us a profile of their character, their strength, their zeal in doing God's will, and of their now being made subject unto the risen and exalted Christ. We are given some specific examples mentioned in Scripture of the appearance of angels to men, and its relatedness to God's overall purpose in Christ. What is the significance of angels being present here in an abiding sense at Mt. Zion, and of the occasion of great rejoicing that is recorded here for us here in Hebrews 12? What of the significance of this festal gathering at Mt. Zion, and particularly of its relationship to God's eternal purpose (Eph. 3:10-11)? This ought to be a good starting point, at least, as we prepare for our own blessed time of gathering.
A numberless company of angelic beings (Deut. 33:2; Ps. 68:17; Dan. 7:10; Jgs. 1:14; Jude 14; Rev. 5:11-12). Their abiding presence at Mt. Zion is significant to consider in view of their momentary, and often abrupt, dealings and associations with men throughout the sacred record. Absolutely never, in Moses and the Prophets, did an angelic messenger confess to a man, “I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 19:10; cf. 22:9). But this confession, made here by the angel to the Apostle John, is, in itself, a witness, and a tribute, to the great and effectual sacrifice that was made for sins, when the Lord Jesus Christ offered Himself up for us all.
The spirits of just men made perfect (II Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23; Col. 1:12, the saints in light) a vast continuing city of redeemed personalities (Rev. 7:9). The first martyr Stephen is there among that grand company, and as well, “the twelve Apostles of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:14), “and all the Prophets” (Acts 3:24), and “the martyrs of Jesus” (Rev. 17:6), and all who “died in faith” (Heb.11:13), and were justified by faith in the Son of God down through the centuries. This includes both those who lived before the Cross and those who have died in faith since that time up unto this day.
A Matter for Consideration: Why isn't the Holy Spirit specifically mentioned here, whereas the Father and the Son are identified as being present here at this very significant occasion? It stands to reason that He is indeed here indwelling the hearts of these redeemed personalities. Jesus said, "I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth; Whom the world cannot receive . . . (Jn. 14:16-17). "God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Gal. 4:6).
It is a blessed thing, indeed, when the gatherings of the saints are a foretaste of the blessed gathering that we read about here at Mt. Zion. Truly, we have come to Mt. Zion, and to the city of the living God!