Which Mountain Are You Climbing?
In Hebrews 12:18-24, the writer summons images of two different mountains for the reader to consider.
First, there is Sinai, the dark forbidding mountain on which the Ten Commandments were written. Remember how there was thunder and lightning, how the ground shook at the sound of God’s voice? The people were afraid and they knew if they touched even the foot of the mountain, they would die.
And yet that fear and dread did not keep the Israelites from straying. Right there in the shadow of the dark mountain, they made a golden calf--something smaller, prettier, less frightening to worship.
Anxiety over an angry God and fear of punishment--these things do not inspire virtue. They never have. Yet, many of us still see the God of Mt. Sinai and we try to scare ourselves and others into living right. How well is that working for us?
Check around the house to see if you have anything equivalent to a golden calf.
The writer told us to put aside the image of Sinai and focus on Zion, the beautiful city of Jerusalem set on a hill. The Jews thought of Zion and it made them think of home, a place where they could reside fully with each other and with God. Rather than avoiding it, they went to it, singing joyous hymns along the way, celebrating that they could go home and be free.
Zion became our metaphor for heaven, the home we are headed for, where all will be made right, and we’ll be with the God who is lovely and healing.
Zion is the image that allows us to endure difficulties and avoid temptation. Zion inspires us to persevere. Zion cheers us when we’re weary. It’s what puts a song of praise in our hearts as we make our journey.
Which mountain are you climbing?