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 firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Hebrews 12:22-24 ESV
My dear watchmen, how have we not seen this??? Is this not clearly a rapture passage? When is it that we will come to the heavenly Mount Zion and the city of the living God? When do we enter our chambers, the ones that Jesus has been preparing for us in the Heavenly Jerusalem? When will we attend a festal gathering? When will the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven assemble? Surely this is describing the rapture!
Mount Zion and the Heavenly City of Jerusalem
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John 14:2-3 ESV
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Philippians 3:20-21 ESV
Come, my people, enter your chambers,
and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
until the fury has passed by.
For behold, the Lord is coming out from his place
to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity,
and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it,
and will no more cover its slain. Isaiah 26:20-21 ESV
Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber. Joel 2:15-17 ESV
“Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. Revelation 21:9-11 ESV
We will live in our Father’s house, in the heavenly Jerusalem, on the heavenly Mount Zion. At some point (I believe after the Millennial Kingdom when the new heaven and new earth are made) it will come down out of heaven.
…and to innumerable angels in festal gathering…
Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Revelation 19:9 ESV
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. Ephesians 5:31-32 ESV
And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Matthew 25:10 ESV
Remember in Part 1 of our study, we noted that on the original Pentecost (Shavuot), the elders of Israel ascended Mount Sinai to eat a “covenant affirmation” meal with the LORD?
Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank. Exodus 24:9-11 ESV
Assembly of the Firstborn
…and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven…
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him… 2 Thessalonians 2:1 ESV
Our assembly is described in the interlinear as Strong’s #3831:panéguris: a festal assembly
Original Word: πανήγυρις, εως, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Phonetic Spelling: (pan-ay’-goo-ris)
Short Definition: a festival assembly
Definition: a festival assembly.HELPS Word-studies
3831 panḗgyris (from 3956 /pás, “all” and 58 /agorá, “the public square, meeting place”) – properly, an assembly-place where people met for a common purpose, especially to celebrate (commemorate) or be festive (BAGD).
“Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.” John 14:1-3 NKJV
Note how Jesus will receive us unto Himself as you read the next passage.
Two men will be in the field; one will be taken [received] and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken [received] and the other left. Matthew 24:40-41; Mark 13:34-35 ESV
Interestingly, the word used, paralambanetai, is used elsewhere to represent “received” – as in, the ones taken will be received unto the Lamb. Our reception into heaven is when we are taken from the earth and assemble together before the Lamb. That we are enrolled in heaven means that we are in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world (Rev 17:8).
God, the Judge of All
…and to God, the judge of all…
I believe this is a reference to the Judgment Seat of Christ, where saints will receive or lose their rewards:
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV)
Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10-12 ESV)
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15 ESV)
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25 ESV)
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8 ESV)
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12 ESV) (Also Rev 2:10 Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. ESV)
And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:4 ESV)
Look! I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to repay each person according to what he has done. (Revelation 22:12 ESV)
I believe that the Day of Christ is the heavenly track while the Day of the Lord runs its course on earth. The Day of Christ is the day of redemption of the saints, when the “age of grace” is complete and the true body of Christ is called up to join Jesus in glory. The Day of the Lord is the day of judgment for those who “refused to love the truth and so be saved”.
Spirits of the Righteous Made Perfect
..and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect…
I believe this is related to our complete redemption through the blood of the Lamb.
Listen! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed. For this corruptible must be clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal must be clothed with immortality. When this corruptible is clothed with incorruptibility, and this mortal is clothed with immortality, then the saying that is written will take place:
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?
1 Corinthians 15:51-55 ESV
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:30 ESV
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:7-14 ESV
Jesus, the Mediator of a New Covenant
…and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant…
Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood. For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:15-28 ESV
The Sprinkled Blood
…and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
The sprinkled blood refers back to the blood of the Lamb, Jesus, the mediator of the New Covenant. The blood of Abel refers to the purpose of the Day of the Lord, which is to cleanse the earth of its’ bloodguilt and wickedness and punish those who refused to love the truth and be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:12).
The Pentecost Connection
Ok, you are saying, I can see the rapture here, with our assembling together in heaven at the redemption of our bodies. But where does Pentecost fit in? For this we turn to the entire passage to ascertain context:
For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”
The passage starts out describing the giving of the Law to Moses on Mount Sinai on what day? PENTECOST. It continues with no interruption:
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 firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
This is the rapture connection we have discussed above. And what follows? Keep going…
See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:18-29 ESV
Did you note the connection which confirms that the author is connecting the escaping at Mount Sinai and the escaping what is to come next? The author then describes a shaking of the heavens and the earth, to remove the powers from them in order to establish Jesus’ Kingdom that will never be shaken! We know that at the rapture there is an escape route, followed by a time of wrath on earth.
But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.
Luke 21:36 ESV
The giving of the Law on Mount Sinai was a somber and dramatic occasion, ON PENTECOST, which the author of Hebrews ties together with a future festal gathering in heaven as an escape, followed by a shaking of the heavens and the earth. Could this be a clue that this gathering will also occur on a future PENTECOST, followed by a time of tribulation on earth?
Let’s examine the connection of Hebrews 12 to the Day of the Lord to see if we are on the right track:
Main Pentecost Study Menu: Everything You Need to Know About Pentecost, the Feast that Ties It All Together For The Church
Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape? If not, please read What Must I do to Be Saved.
The Bible is infallible. I am not. I am merely challenging traditional models and testing them against Scripture. I believe that traditional pretribulation teachings provide a solid backbone upon which to lay the musculature of details, some of which I think might need to be adjusted slightly. I encourage you to consider my thoughts as you also examine the scriptures to see if these things are so!