26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. (ESV)
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.11 The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar.2 And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.3 So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife.4 And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress.5 And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!”6 But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.
7 The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.8 And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.”9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.”10 The angel of the Lordalso said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.”11 And the angel of the Lord said to her,
“Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction. 12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.”
13 So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.
15 And Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram. (ESV)
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.”2 But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?”3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.”4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.”5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
7 And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.”8 But he said, “O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?”9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”10 And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half.11 And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
12 As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years.14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
17 When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates,19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites,20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim,21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.” (ESV)
Old Testament Church under Moses (Hebrews 12:18-21)
This place is tangible
This place is terrestrial
This place is terrifying
The Gospel church under Jesus (Hebrews 12:22-24)
This place is intangible
This place is celestial
This place is sweet and gentle, even “festal”!
Key Questions and Applications
What is the purpose of our gathering together? To worship and praise our mighty God and to be ruled, guided, sanctified, and comforted.
What actually happens while we are here as the gathered church? The visible and invisible churches converge in real time as we worship our Redeemer! This happens every Sunday morning.
What should happen when we depart from here as the scattered church?
Scripture: Hebrews 12:18-29
18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.”21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”22 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,23 and to the assembly[a] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25 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.26 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.”27 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.28 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,29 for our God is a consuming fire. (ESV)