Picture a mountain of doom, one more ominous than anything conceived in the imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien or the artistry of Peter Jackson. This mountain radiates darkness, gloom and storm. It burns so fiercely, that even if an animal touches it, immediate death follows. Words spoken from this mountain emit such terror that people beg for silence. They can’t bear the weight of its commands. The sight of it so terrifies, that it causes even mighty men like Moses to melt with fear and trembling….
This is how the writer of Hebrews depicts life before grace.
This looming mountain of judgment causes even us twenty-first century sophisticates to cower in its presence. It exposes our profanity. It reveals how we, like Esau, have carelessly thrown away our birthright for momentary pleasures. No amount of begging can bring it back. The door to mercy is marked CLOSED. And all our attempts to open it end in futility…
Life before grace.
Now picture another mountain….a heavenly one. The judge of all men lives here along with thousands upon thousands of exuberant angels. It emanates light, joy and peace. Jesus stands at the door of this mountain. Because of his slain life, he has the authority to arbitrate on our behalf, to become our defender, to reconcile us with pure goodness, to make us straggling beggars righteous men and women. All who wash in his blood bathe in forgiveness. They discover that he has turned the CLOSED sign to OPEN.
That describes life after grace.
Grace brings us an earth-shattering sigh of relief. Yet Paul reminds his fellow workers not to receive it in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). Before grace, we had no hope of changing the direction of our hell-bent souls. Now, in the light of grace we can actually learn how to say no to ungodliness (Titus 2:12). Grace enables us to get rid of all the bitter roots of pride, jealousy and criticalness. It teaches us how not to judge others because it reminds us of where we were before it came.
Let’s never forget our great escape from that mountain of doom. Let’s embrace our freedom and grow in grace….
Let’s not miss it!