What May Be Touched


Our position as new covenant members is far better than that of old covenant believers; therefore, our responsibility is far greater.

“For you have not come to what may be touched” (Heb. 12:18).

- Hebrews 12:18–19

In the verses preceding today’s passage, the author of Hebrews reminds us of our need to throw away entangling sins so that we may run the race of faith with vigor (vv. 1–2). He exhorts us not to allow the discipline of the Lord to cause us to abandon the race but rather to embrace it as a means of purifying our flesh (vv. 3–11). He encourages us to strengthen ourselves by staying away from sexual immorality and other godless behavior (vv. 12–17).

Verses 16 and 17 tell us that if we do these things, then we will not be like Esau, who treasured the pleasures of this world more than his covenant status. As a result, Esau was found to be lacking in true faith and was never able to find true repentance and salvation. This professing member of the old covenant church was rejected by God.

If old covenant members were rejected for lacking true faith, then faithless new covenant members deserve rejection all the more. This is the point made in the second half of Hebrews 12 that begins with today’s passage. Before we begin analyzing the rest of chapter 12, let us once again remind ourselves that the author of Hebrews is not teaching that those with true faith can finally abandon Christ and lose their salvation. Rather, he speaks of perseverance in general terms because he does not know all of the individuals in his audience who are thinking about returning to the old covenant. What he does know is that God will use these warnings to motivate the elect to keep their faith and to cling to Jesus until the very end of their lives.

In order to show that punishment is even more deserving to new covenant members who profess but do not possess true faith, the author, in verses 18–19, begins comparing the glory of the new covenant with the glory of the old one once again. In these verses, he tells those of us under the new covenant that we have not come to things that can be touched and seen. These verses refer to the events at Mount Sinai when the old covenant was ratified.

We conclude by saying that though the glory seen at Sinai was awesome, the glory of the heavenly Mount Zion is much greater and, therefore, so is our responsibility to keep the covenant.

Coram Deo

We have not come to the earthly copies of the heavenly realm but to heaven itself. Our position as new covenant members is far better than that of old covenant believers, and, therefore, our responsibility is far greater. Thank God for allowing you to live under the new covenant, and ask Him to continue increasing your faith in Christ.

Passages for Further Study

  • Ex. 19
Isa. 5:16
  • Eph. 2:4–6 

  • Heb. 9:1–5
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