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Hebrews 12:22-24 – The Heavenly Jerusalem

Summary

Christians live in light of a festal gathering in the heavenly Jerusalem. This image speaks of joy and intimacy with the people of God, angels, Jesus, and God's own self.

Analysis

The description of the heavenly Jerusalem is in many ways the climax of Hebrews. The author describes it as a festal gathering, something that was a familiar feature of life in the ancient world. For ordinary festivals, people would travel many miles to take part in games and banquets in a city. Festivals were known for their atmosphere of friendship and joy. This gives readers a sense of the joy that they can anticipate in the heavenly Jerusalem, where the redeemed gather in the presence of angels and Christ himself. The vision gives people confidence for life in the present, knowing that the future of faith is one of life, joy, and community. It is not an individualistic hope, but one that involves the whole people of God. Moreover, this hope gives people cause for gratitude and a desire to serve God in daily life. The final chapter of the book outlines ways in which citizens of the heavenly city serve God on earth by showing mutual love and hospitality, attending to prisoners, remaining faithful in marriage, and avoiding the obsession for money (12:28-13:6). Hope for the city that is to come means offering praise to God in the present and sharing what we have with those in need (13:14-16).

Hebrews 12:22-24

22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23and 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, 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

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10 February 2011

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