We are not under the ceremonial law with all of its washings, meats and drinks, sacrifices, and sin-offerings. Christ, our Lord, has fulfilled all this. We are in a gospel church-state of which Christ Jesus is the Head; He is prophet, priest, and king! Nor do we come to the holy, moral law of God for acceptance and righteousness but to Christ, our Mediator. Do we realize the privilege and happiness of being delivered from the legal dispensation under which Israel lived? Do we realize the terror and awesomeness of the Law? It is described in these verses.
(Vs. 18-21) THE PLACE where the Law was given was Mt. Sinai, which might not be touched (Exo. 19:12), which burned with fire, and which set forth the majesty, holiness, and righteousness of God.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES attending the giving of the Law blackness, darkness, and tempest accompanied the giving of the Law because it offered no hope to sinful people, only curses and wrath. When the angels announced the birth of Christ, the light and glory of God shone round about them; for they brought glad tidings of redemption.
THE MATTER of the Law given by the "voice of words" (Vs. 19) was the Ten Commandments, requiring perfect obedience but giving no strength to perform them. It revealed their sins but offered no mercy and no saviour (Gal. 3:10; Gal. 4:21).
THE EFFECT of the law on Moses and the people"They could not endure that which was commanded." They backed away, and even Moses trembled! (Exo. 20: 18-21.)
(Vs. 22-24) The happiness of the church state or the believer's position today is given in these verses and expressed by the names used.
"MOUNT SION" is the church the Lord Jesus to which the believer comes in distinction from the legal dispensation signified by Mt. Sinai. It is called Mount Sion because it is chosen by God and is the place of His habitation. Here His gospel is preached, He communes with His people, and His ordinances are administered; it is an immovable mountain (Matt. 16:18). We come to Christ, not to a place, a Law, or a ceremony which only typifies Him.
"CITY OF THE LIVING GOD." This church is a city built on Christ and is full of inhabitants (true believers) under proper leaders, guarded by His power and free from fear (Heb. 11:10, 16).
"THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM." Jerusalem signifies the vision of peace or "they shall see peace." It is the place of worship and the palace of the King. It is called the heavenly Jerusalem to distinguish it from the earthly Jerusalem. The church is the city of God because He built it, dwells in it, protects it, and defends it. We meet on earth, but our communion and association are in heavenly places (Eph. 2:6).
"TO AN INNUMERABLE COMPANY OF ANGELS." Believers are brought into a state of friendship and fellowship with angels who minister to us (Heb. 1:14).
"TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND CHURCH OF THE FIRST BORN." The word "assembly,'' according to Dr. Gill, was a public and common gathering of the Greeks and signifies a large collection and convention. The church of God is assembled IN THE MIND OF GOD from all eternity. They ARE assembled IN CHRIST, their Redeemer, then and now; they WILL assemble IN HIS PRESENCE all together personally in that great day. The church of the firstborn is made up of all God's elect in all times and places and reaches even to the saints in heaven! Their names are written in heaven in the Lamb's Book of Life.
"TO GOD THE JUDGE OF ALL." Believers have free access to God, the Judge of righteousness, through the blood and sacrifice of Christ. Our sins have been judged and paid for in Christ; therefore, there is no judgment nor condemnation which prevents our acceptance (Heb. 2:14-16; Heb. 10:19-22).
"TO THE SPIRITS OF JUST MEN MADE PERFECT." This may refer to the fellowship of believers who are justified and made perfect in Christ Jesus and whose communion and fellowship is not of a fleshly, social nature mainly but of a spiritual communion. Their souls and hearts are knit together in love for Christ and one another (I John 1:3).
"TO JESUS THE MEDIATOR OF THE NEW COVENANT." Coming to Christ is by faith, out of a sense of need, and by a revelation of His fullness and sufficiency; it is the blessing of blessings, for we are complete in Him. This is the key and focal point of this entire portion of Scripture:we come not to the Law, ceremonies, or works but to Christ; and in Christ we have a right to all privileges and blessings of God (Col. 2:9-10; Col. 1:19-23).
"TO THE BLOOD OF SPRINKLING, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." There may be two thoughts suggested here.
1. ABEL'S BLOOD, shed by his brother, cries for vengeance and wrath; Christ's blood cries for pardon and peace.
2. THE BLOOD OF ABEL'S SACRIFICE may be the reference. His sacrifice was the first blood sacrifice mentioned. It was offered by faith and pointed to Christ's sacrifice. However, the blood of Christ is not typical but effectual and perfects all for whom it was shed, leaving no remembrance of sin (I Peter 1:18-19; I John 1:9).