“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.”[Hebrews 12:22-24]
The writer describes what it means to belong to the Christian community – there is a part of it not seen with the created eye. Yet, while not seen, it is nevertheless real. This is what it means to be in the assembly. For when the saints assemble for worship, the fellowship in which they participate is larger than those who appear to be present and richer in spirit than what may seem to be. The question, “With whom are you meeting when you gather together for worship?” is answered.
In the context of the above reference, part of the answer is given by casting back to the experience of Israel at Mt. Sinai. That experience was marked by prohibition and exclusion. The people could not touch even the mountain! Only Moses could go into the presence of God. Even he trembled! And the prevailing atmosphere of the experience was that of awesome and terrible power – there was tempest, fire, blackness, and the voice of thunder. The people had to keep their distance and tremble in forsakenness. But this is not true today. For all that, having served its purpose, is past. [Hebrews 12:18-21]
For in this age, in the assembly of the saints, the Christian has fellowship, not only with his brethren, but also with the heavenly hosts. The acts of worship in which the Christian engages are done in the presence of “the judge of all.” This is not the old system of rigid exclusion where the limit was one man only. This is the new system of inclusion where all who are sinners may come joyfully into His presence. And, there, to join in worship “angels in joyful assembly” and “just men made perfect” and “the church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven.”
This is the richness of Christian fellowship in worship. This is the truth about worshipping God in spirit and truth. The assembly is innumerable, even when the number gathered in any place on earth is small.
And note the emphasis. It is not “you will come.” It is “you have come.” The experience of worshiping with the heavenly hosts is not limited to the future in the world beyond the grave. It is now. This is what actually happens when you gather with your brethren to worship. Thus, worship is not a mundane activity, for it is participation with the whole company of heaven.
- Frank J Daniels, pulpit minister & teacher
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