Robert Hawker on Hebrews 12:18-24:
Within the compass of these verses, we have the most striking description drawn, and by the pencil of the Holy Ghost himself, of the vast difference between Mount Sinai, and Mount Zion; that is, the law, and the Gospel; a Covenant of Works, and a Covenant of Grace. And it is such a description, as is enough under divine teaching, to arrest the heart, with the most sensible apprehension, of the awfulness of the one, and the blessedness of the other; the soul’s approaches unto God.
The first account is of Mount Sinai. And the very solemn and awful demonstrations, of the Lord’s presence, in giving the law; are described in characters so terrible, as even in the recital, makes the flesh to tremble. Moses himself was so overwhelmed, that he said, I exceedingly fear and quake. And all Israel cried out, and said unto Moses, speak thou with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die, Exo_20:18-19. Nothing can be more plain, than that the leading design of the Lord, in those manifestations, of thunderings, and lightnings, and the like, were to impress the Church of God, with an holy awe and reverence, in the consciousness of the divine presence. And also to shew them, the blackness, darkness, dread, and horror, which every soul must feel, through divine teaching, when brought under the conviction of having broken the Lord’s precepts.
And, on the other band, in the most blessed and gracious description, given of Mount Zion, the Church is taught the high privilege of the Lord’s redeemed ones, who now may come, and who indeed do come, to the assembly of the first-born; yea, to God himself the Judge of all, when coming in the name of Jesus., the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling. And here is implied, in being come, that there is an holy familiarity, and acquaintance, in this approach; a birth-right, by the new-birth; a redemption, an adopted-character, by Jesus’s blood, and righteousness; and the Covenant faithfulness of God the Judge of all. So that this is the Gospel privilege of God’s redeemed ones: their stated daily, hourly, minutely mercy; to which they are supposed to come boldly, and find mercy, and grace to help in all time of need, Heb_4:16.
One point I would beg however to remark, on this different description of those Mounts, in the dispensation of the Law and the Gospel. The Holy Ghost hath most graciously and blessedly taught the Church, in this divine scripture, from the different manifestations in which the Lord was pleased to make himself known to Old Testament saints, and New Testament believers; how blessed an alteration is made, in the mode of worship, by the open revelation of Christ; but it must not be understood from thence, that the way of acceptance with God in Christ, differed in the Old Testament Church from the New. Both were one, and the same. The former, was a shadow of good things to come; but then, as now, the body was Christ. And blessed be God, our fathers, both under the Law, and before the Law, as well as their children under the Gospel, in every ministration, and in every service, had an eye to the Lamb slain from the foundation of the World.
Their services, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, yea, the Book of the Law, and all the people, were sprinkled with blood, Exo_24:6-8; Heb_9:19-22. And hence we find Old Testament saints chanting their hymns of salvation to God, and the Lamb. Job knew, that his kinsman Redeemer lived, Job_19:25. David sung his dying love song, in the believing views he had of a Covenant ordered in all things and sure; and which was all his salvation, and all his desire, 2Sa_23:5. And indeed, all the faithful, in every age of the Church, from the first dawn of revelation, in Abel’s faith offering, down to Zachariah’s day at the Altar of Incense, in the moment of Christ’s coming, blessed God, in the soul-living expectation of the mercy promised, Luk_1:72.
Reader! learn to estimate, the high privileges of redemption in Jesus; and be it your daily song of thanksgiving, and praise, that you are not come to the Mount that might be touched, (that is on which the Lord by his descent might be said to touch, though not touched by man,) and that burned with fire; but you are come to Jesus the Mediator; and to the blood of sprinkling!
Oh! the blessedness, the preciousness, the unspeakable greatness of the mercy! Jesus, your Jesus, if so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious; to whom coming, 1Pe_2:3-4. And in, And through, and by Jesus, to God the Judge of all.