Spiritual Jerusalem is above and is called the heavenly Jerusalem and heaven, where our Father dwells with His Son.
Messiah Jesus is seated at His right (Heb 12:2). God has also seated us in Messiah in heavenly places (Eph 2:6). That is a lot to take in, but we can comprehend it by the Spirit, as we are exhorted to do by Paul.
“Now if you were raised with Christ, be eager for the things that are above, where Christ is sitting at the right of God. Keep your mind on things above, not on earthly things. You see, you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, your Life, appears, then you too will appear with Him in glory. Col 3:1-4 AAT
One of my favorite ways to help me set my eyes on the things that are above is to meditate on Hebrews 12 and Revelation 21-22. In Hebrews 11; the author has just recounted acts of faith of our forefathers and mothers. Beginning in Hebrews 12:1-17, he exhorts us to follow their example and Jesus’ example. Then, urges us to submit to God our Father’s discipline and live holy, with endurance, perseverance and the perspective of eternity it takes to do what God wants us to do and not do what He doesn’t want us to do.
The contrast between the old covenant and the new covenant.
In that context, the writer of Hebrews brings out the contrast between the old covenant and the new covenant by pointing out the difference in the setting of the covenants, Mount Sinai and Mount Zion. The first is physical: the second is spiritual. At the physical Mount Sinai, God gave Moses the Law of the old covenant. The second, is the Mount Zion Zion we see by the Word and the Spirit with our spirit.
When we set our eyes on the things that are above, we see the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem and we are seated there in Messiah. (Eph 2:6) And, we see Messiah there (Eph 1:20) beside God our Father in heaven in the glory of the new covenant.
Mount Sinai—the old covenant
Shortly after God delivered the Israelites from 400 years of Egyptian slavery. Even after witnessing the 10 plagues God inflicted upon the Egyptians and the parting of the Red Sea, their faith in God was weak. They did not fear God more than natural enemies or other God’s.
Since God’s old covenant people were not indwelt with the Holy Spirit, God lead them as natural man. God was already revealing His presence in a glory cloud by day and a flame by night. Then, preparing to give the Ten Commandments and the Law, God revealed Himself on Mount Sinai.
“You didn’t come to anything you could touch, to a blazing fire, darkness, gloom, a storm, the blast of a trumpet, or the speaking of a voice. Those who heard that begged to be told no more, because they couldn’t endure the order that was given: Even an animal, if it touches the mountain, must be stoned. And the sight was so terrible Moses said, “I am terrified and trembling.” Heb 12:18-21 [Ex 19]
Even Moses was terrified and trembling. That got the Israelites attention. While Moses was on the mount, they we so afraid they decided to make a Golden Calf and worship it as their God. Moses came down the mountain in despair and anger, but he pleaded for God to forgive them. God spared them (Ex 32).
In addition to the law, given to Moses, God gave His old covenant people 7 feasts to celebrate; three required their presence in Jerusalem. The pilgrimages and feasts were festive gatherings of God’s kindred people.
Jerusalem at Mount Zion is the setting for the new covenant
Mount Zion is the spiritual mountain where God dwells. It is called the city of God in Old Testament (Ps 9:11; Ps 76:2; Ps 110:2; Is 2:2-3; Micah 4:1-2). The Old covenant heroes of faith (Heb 11) were looking for a better country a heavenly one.(Heb 11:13-16) In the new covenant, the city is identified as the heavenly Jerusalem, which is above. (Gal 4:26)
In the heavenly Jerusalem, we come to a spiritual festival gathering, a 24/7 festival gathering. This is a joyous gathering of angels and God’s firstborn people.
“For you have not come to a mountain that might be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness, darkness, storm, the sound of a shofar, and the voice of words; which those who heard it begged that not one more word should be spoken to them, for they could not stand that which was commanded, “If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned”.*✡ So fearful was the appearance that Moses said, “I am terrified and trembling.”✡
“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable multitudes of angels, to the festal gathering and assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Yeshua, the mediator of a new covenant,✡ and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better than that of Abel. Hebrews 12:18-24
The church of God’s firstborn people includes living or dead the whole Israel of God (Gal 6:16, Ro 11). We are there in Messiah. Since God has created us in Messiah Christ Jesus (Eph 2:4-10) and sent the Holy Spirit so we can walk after the Spirit. (Ro 8:1,5). Thus, we can picture the heavenly Jerusalem with eyes of faith.
“But Messiah having come as a high priest of the coming good things, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify to the cleanness of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without defect to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, since a death has occurred for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. Hebrews 9:11-15
Our righteousness is God’s covenant justice in action.
Through the act of God’s covenant justice, God declares us to be in the right (Ro 3:25). He also gave us faith to believe it (Eph 2:8-9). Our names are written in the book of life (Rev 20:12). God’s justice for unbelievers is final: “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15).
“But God, who is rich in mercy, loved us with such a great love. He made us who were dead in sins alive with Christ. [You are saved by a gift of His grace.] And since we are in Christ Jesus, He raised us with Him and had us sit with Him in heaven to show in the coming ages the immeasurable riches of His love by being kind to us in Christ Jesus. You are saved by a gift of grace which you get by faith. You didn’t do it. It is God’s gift. It isn’t because of anything you have done, or you might boast. He has made us what we are, creating us in Christ Jesus to do good works, in which God long ago planned for us to live. Eph 2:4-10
God will judge all mankind. He will do justice to all. The unconverted Hebrews reading Heb 12:22-24 have much to fear if they stick with Judaism, but they have hope of glory (Col 1:27) if they trust in Jesus as the Son of God (1 Jn 4:15).
The final perfection awaits the resurrection and regeneration, when will all be changed in a moment, to live in a glorified body to live eternally in the glory of the kingdom of God that is to come (Ro 8:20-23; 1 Th 4:16; Rev 21-22).
“And here is Jesus, who gave us a new covenant with God, and the sprinkled blood that has better things to tell than Abel.” Again, we see the contrast between the old and the new covenant. The old covenant had an earthly temple and earthly sacrifices for sin. They did not clear the conscience (Heb 9:1-10). The blood of Christ does.
A stern warning
We are exhorted to run with endurance looking to Jesus as our example. We are to accept the Lord’s training and discipline, take hold, stand firm and move forward in total allegiance to God. march on. We are to try hard to live in peace with everybody and to be holy. The author of Hebrews backs that up with a stern warning.
“See that you don’t refuse to listen to Him who is speaking. If the others didn’t escape when they refused to listen to Him warning them on earth, much less will we if we turn away from Him who warns us from heaven. Then His voice shook the earth. But now He has promised: Once more I will shake not only the earth but also heaven. The words once more show clearly He will take away what is shaken, seeing He made it, leaving what isn’t shaken as permanent. Since we have received a kingdom that can’t be shaken, let us thank God and so worship in a way that pleases Him, with fear and awe, because our God is a consuming fire. Heb 12:25-29 AAT
“We have received a kingdom that can’t be shaken.” This refers to the kingdom that is to come in the same sense we are saved now and will be saved at the regeneration (Mat 19:28, Eph 1). The kingdom that is to come is stored up for us in heaven.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Pe 1:3-5 (Rev 21-22)