YE ARE COME TO WHAT?
William Andrew Dillard
Parson to Person
“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” Heb 12:22-24.
There is much to glean from these verses of scripture. They center on the contrast between the law, and the church as expressed by “church of the firstborn.” Here, the Old Testament world of shadows and symbols, and the New Testament world of realities come together in a most thrilling way.
It begins in the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt. God purchased to Himself the firstborn by the blood of the Passover Lamb. He emphatically proclaimed to the Hebrews that the firstfruits of man, beast, the field, etc. belonged to Him, and such must be yielded to Him or redeemed with fair price. Soon a census was taken and the tribe of Levi almost matched in number the total of firstborn saved from death by the blood. Whereupon, God traded the firstborn back to the Hebrews for the entire tribe of Levi who would produce the priests and minister about holy things. It is important to connect the dots here. The Old Testament priests then became representative of the firstborn ones from Egypt.
The Levitical priesthood was destined to cease, giving way to another priesthood, and another high priest after the order of Melchizedec Who would serve the covenant people of God without end. He, of course, is Jesus. Who is THE FIRST BORN from the dead among many brethren.
When the New High Priest fulfilled every jot and title of the Mosaic Law, He redeemed His people of covenant out from under the Old and into the New. The expression of the New Covenant among men is the New Testament Church (purchased with holy blood) and the pillar and ground of the truth. Soon after the empowerment of the church by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, gentiles were added as it grew by leaps and bounds under the missionary efforts of the Apostle Paul and others. The people of this New Covenant are called the “Israel of God,” Gal. 6:16. Moreover, Peter calls them “a royal priesthood.” I Peter 2:9. Consequently, the writer of Hebrews emphasizes that we are no longer under the law. We have not come to Mt. Sinai, but to Mt. Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem . . . To the church of the firstborn…. But while we have this blessed status and enjoy the understanding and spiritual maturity it affords us, there is much greater personal responsibility regarding personal submission to the instructions of Christ Jesus, our eternal high priest. We must not turn away from Him Who has spoken to us. We must learn to worship and serve God acceptably. While it is sweet to enjoy our relationship with Him as our Loving Heavenly Father, we must hear the following verses as well, and know that our God is indeed a consuming fire.
The church of the firstborn! What a lofty position to which we have been elevated in Christ Jesus!