Hebrews 12:18-24 Our Inheritance.
The old covenant system, particularly as expressed in the Mosaic administration, was not one that allowed or encouraged personal access (v.18 Cf. Ex. 19:12, 16; 20:18; Dt. 4:11; 5:22). There was a loud unmistakable declaration, by trumpet and words, that everyone knew the consequences, such that they did not want to hear it (v. 19 Cf. Ex. 20:18-26; Dt. 5:25; 18:16). The people “could not endure what was commanded: And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow” (v. 20 Cf. Ex. 20:12-13). This testimony was even backed up by Moses himself, who was “exceedingly afraid and trembling” (v. 21 Cf. Dt. 9:19).
This is in stark contrast with the new covenant on a couple of fronts. Firstly, if the earthly mountain and ministry was accompanied with such warnings, then one might imagine that the heavenly would merit even greater fear. This is the point our author will make with respect to the closing section of the Covenant Lawsuit which follows-Recognition (Cf. vv. 25-27). Secondly, the opposite is actually the case, because we can now come to God through “Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (v. 24 Cf. 8:6; 9:15; 11:4; Gen. 4:10; Ex. 24:8; I Tim. 2:5;).
Our author in fact lists just some of the things which are the inheritance of the people of God. “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect” (vv. 22-23). Mount Zion was associated with the remnant, those who had true saving faith in the one covenant of grace (Cf. II Kgs. 19:31). On Mount Zion is “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” and the earthly Jerusalem, which was still standing, would soon be gone.
The “innumerable company of angels” echoes the throne of the Glory-Presence in chapter one, the Son Himself enthroned as the Lord of Hosts. There is also “the general assembly and church of the firstborn.” To the seventy, Jesus cautioned and encouraged them to take more joy in having their names written in heaven, than that the spirits were subject to them (Lk. 10:20). Firstly, the latter may be exercised by some who were not numbered with the latter, and the latter will cease with the close of the canon, but the former will be forever. Secondly, it is far better to be children of God with a heavenly inheritance, than to exercise a certain power over spirits.
The church militant on earth will ultimately be united to the church triumphant in heaven. The spirits of just men made perfect, simply reiterates what our author has stated all along. The core of the various old covenant administrations of the one covenant of grace, is that the just shall live by faith, which finds its ultimately fulfillment in Jesus the Mediator. Again, through mercy and grace there was a provision of blood sacrifice going all the way back to God clothing Adam and Eve through shedding blood and clothing them, to the blood offered by Abel (v. 24 Cf. Gen. 3:21; 4:4). Jesus blood is better, and we also come to the One who is “the Judge of all.”