Esau chose the physical world over the spiritual world. He preferred what he could touch and taste and enjoy in his body at the present rather than what had been promised in a future spiritual realm. Choosing to live in the moment always leads to deep regret and many tears. Further, it leads to a fear of God and the reality of a divine judgment that no one living for the pleasures of the flesh can stand up to. But the writer of Hebrews wants his readers to understand that in Jesus we have a new position with God. Even though we’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s standard, we’ve found grace and forgiveness in Christ. In Hebrews 12:18-21, he encourages us to remember that we’ve not come to a mountain of Judgement. He writes, “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 epistle had already mentioned what a fearful thing it is for sinners to fall into the hands of a living God. The picture of God given at Sinai is the picture of the God who caught his children worshipping the golden calves after he had delivered them from Egypt. In Deuteronomy 9:19, Moses expressed his fear of God’s judgment. He said, “For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure that the Lord bore against you, so that he was ready to destroy you.” Yes, even Moses was fearful of God executing his full wrath on sinners and the people drawing near to Mount Sinai were sinners just as Esau was. He had turned from the promises of God and reverted to the pursuit of things physical. This is the case of all of us! But we now live under grace not law.

We have not come to Mount Sinai to face God’s judgment. We’ve come to Mount Zion to receive God’s forgiveness and mercy. Hebrews 12:22-24 goes on: “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.” In Christ we are accepted by God. His love casts out fear. John tells us about this in his first epistle. 1 John 4:18-19 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.”