by Steven Chan
In Heb 12:24 it is stated that we have come to “Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel”. In what sense is the shedding of the blood of Jesus comparable with the blood shed by Abel?
The entire passage of Heb 12:22-24 is reproduced here below:-
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”
In Heb 12, the writer encourages Christians to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Heb 12:1-2). He then went on to warn that we should look carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. Then the writer goes on to remind us that we have “not come to a physical mountain” (Heb 12:18-21) which although was an awesome event, is exceeded by the fact that we have now come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the church whose members are “registered in heaven” as we have come to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, to the blood that speaks better than the blood shed by Abel (Heb 12:22-24).
Isn’t it wonderful to know that as Christians and members of the church, our names are “enrolled” in heaven? Jesus said in Luke 10:20: “rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi: “ For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”
The passage in Heb 12:24 explains that the blood of Jesus speaks of “better things” or testifies of greater things than the blood of Abel. Going back to the writer’s earlier remark in Heb 11:4, it was written: “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.” In other words, God had accepted Abel’s sacrifice because it was offered “by faith” (in contrast with that offered by his brother, Cain) and that highlighted that Abel was accepted by God as being “righteous” (i.e. doing what is right by God). For offering a better sacrifice than Cain, He was killed by his own brother; in that sense his blood was shed as a result of doing what is right.
Abel’s shed blood and his death, speaks of the sacrifice he offered to and accepted by God. In like manner, Jesus was killed by the Jews but in His death and the shedding of His blood on the cross, Jesus brought better things than the blood shed by Abel – because His blood was shed for a better covenant (Heb 8:6). A better covenant because it was established on “better promises”. As explained in Heb 10:11-14, “And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
So, in Heb 12:25 we are exhorted today not to “refuse Him who speaks” from heaven through Jesus Christ (Heb 1:1-2). God “now has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” 27 Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.” God has warned that “the things that are made”, i.e. the physical creation, will be “removed” at His Second Coming (Heb 9:27-28).
It is important to note that “the things that are made” (i.e. the works of creation, i.e. the earth and the works that are in it” – 2 Pet 3:7-12) were not “removed” at the destruction of Jerusalem. It will be removed on the day of Judgement – “the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Pet 3:7, 10).
Christians have been born again into the kingdom of God’s dear son (John 3:5; Col 1:13) which will remain after the removal of the earth and the works in it: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.”
Since we have such a tremendous hope in heaven, we ought to serve God in a manner “acceptable” to Him, appropriately accompanied by “reverence and godly fear”. It is important to note the three things that are required in our service to God:
- “acceptable to God” – not anything or anyhow – not like Cain and his offerings, or Nadab & Abihu in Lev 10:1-3;
- “reverence” – not without due or proper respect to God in how we approach Him:
- Ex 3:5 – Moses was asked to remove his shoes because he was standing on holy ground;
- Neh 8:5-6: “And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 6 And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lordwith their faces to the ground;);
- Acts 20:36: “And when he (Paul) had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all; and
- “godly fear” – acknowledging that God is the Judge of all (Heb 12:23) and that therefore “fear Him and keep His commandments” (Ecc 12:13-14).
Since the blood of Jesus speaks better things, namely forgiveness of sins through the once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ, entrance into the kingdom of God and having our citizenship registered in heaven, let us truly serve God with great diligence.