Hebrews 12 & 13; John 12:37-50
The Glory of the Son
Hebrews 12 paints for us New Testament worship as it really is. We do not gather at Mount Sinai where God came down in thunder and lightning and trumpet blast, as described in Exodus 19 and 20:18-21. As awesome as that sounds, our worship is far superior and awe-inspiring. We gather at Mount Zion, “The heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant.” Now that Christ has ascended to the right hand of the Father, we worship him in all his magnificence and glory. And with him are the angels and the saints who have gone before. You might read Revelation 4 and 5 for a glimpse of the throne-room worship that happens in heaven, the worship that the early church tried to model. Indeed, we walk into that very throne-room each and every Sunday when we enter the sanctuary for worship. Mount Sinai doesn’t even begin to compare!
And whom do we worship? Whom do we glorify? John 12:37-41 tells us. There, John refers to Isaiah’s throne-room vision in which he saw God high and lifted up in the temple (Isaiah 6). He uses the passage to explain why the people could not hear Jesus’ message. But then, John says something remarkable: “Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him” (12:41). Him who? Him, Christ, that’s who.
We usually see the Isaiah passage as referring to God the Father. But John, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says that it was the pre-incarnate Son. In the same way did many of the early Church fathers see the Son in the burning bush. This is all to say that it was the Son all along, from the Old Testament through the New. He was at creation, “For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (Colossians 1:16). He was the Angel of the Lord that visited Abraham (Genesis 18), the spiritual Rock that followed the children of Israel (1 Corinthians 10:4), the exalted Lord who appeared to Isaiah (Isaiah 6). And it is he whom we approach every Sunday morning. He is the King who bestows upon us a kingdom, one that cannot be shaken. He is the Minister of the city to which we aspire, the One to whom we owe the sacrifice of praise. Before his throne, we humbly bow; his never-ending mercies, we plead; his continual aid, we beg. He is the eternal Son of the Father. Therefore, “Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”