God’s Severity and Goodness

“For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest…But, you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels…” (Hebrews 12:18, 22).


The same verb (proserchomai) begins these two verses. The use of the Greek conjunction alla at the beginning of verse 22 draws attention to an intentional and significant contrast between the mountain on which God gave the Ten Commandments which inaugurated the old covenant and the heavenly city from which the new covenant was revealed by the exalted Christ to His inspired apostles and prophets.

God’s approach to humanity in Christ is not like the terrifying majesty He displayed at Mount Sinai; rather, it is the compelling constraint of unfathomable love and divine tenderness, grace, and mercy (2 Cor. 5:14).

This does not mean the terror of the Lord is no more. It still is and continues to be a compelling reason for persuading people to repent (2 Cor. 5:11) so they do not perish (Luke 13:3). There remains an eternal place of divine wrath that all ought to desire to avoid.

In addition, the riches of God’s goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering–the lavish goodness of God–is also a powerful and sufficient reason for repenting (Romans 2:4) so that you can enjoy the blessing and joy of heaven.

Because God wants all to repent (2 Peter 3:9), He sternly warns us of His wrath and its terrifying righteousness. Because God wants all to repent (2 Peter 3:9), He tenderly invites us to obey Him and enjoy the blessedness of His grace and mercy.

Behold, God’s severity and goodness!

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Author: jchowning

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