Hebrews 12:22-24 – The Heavenly Jerusalem
SummaryChristians 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.
AnalysisThe 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).