At Mount Sinai the Jews were forbidden to so much as touch the mountain:

[Exo 19:12-13, 21-24 ESV] (12) And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, 'Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. (13) No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot; whether beast or man, he shall not live.' When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain." ... (21) And the LORD said to Moses, "Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish. (22) Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them." (23) And Moses said to the LORD, "The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, 'Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.'" (24) And the LORD said to him, "Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, lest he break out against them."

But the author of To the Hebrews says:

[Heb 12:18 CSB] (18) For you have not come to what could be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, gloom, and storm,

What does he mean by "for you have not come to what could be touched"? Why is he saying that in the current context?

1 Answer 1


The 'mountain' we have come to is God's kingdom which cannot be touched by human hands. Even though the people in Exodus 19 were not allowed to touch the mountain, they were physically had the ability to do it, but would have been put to death.

In Daniel chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar's dream has a mountain which is the everlasting kingdom set up by God. Daniel 2:35, 2:44.

Jesus says that the kingdom of God will not come with oberservation. Luke 17:20-21. You can't physically touch it or see it - you can see it at work though.

In chapter 10 of Hebrews the author warns about not being like the people who rejected the law in the time of Moses, because it would be worse to reject Christ v28-29. The author continues to encourage the Hebrews live in a godly way and to persevere in their faith and then reminds them about what faith is (Chapter 11:1) and gives examples of who has lived by faith, and encourages the Hebrews to live out their faith through hardships and and when being disciplined by God (Hebrews 12:4-12).

The author then reminds the Hebrews of how Esau rejected the blessing that was meant to go to him and couldn't get it back. Then there is the comparison of the two mountains Hebrews 12:18-29, where it is like the author is saying 'This is the real deal. Don't reject this blessing like Esau rejected his. Don't reject this blessing like the Israelites did in Moses' time. This isn't the mountain you have come to by walking there with your own strength and feet. It is God's spiritual mountain you have come to by faith, so don't reject it.'

  • Good answer, +1 and thank you. Do you have any comment on what point he is trying to make, because he begins with "For..."?
    – Ruminator
    May 9, 2019 at 1:44
  • 1
    Excellent answer Michael. I wish I could mark it correct. You could improve the answer by referring to the untouchable (non-physical) kingdom described in v22-24 - the spiritual kingdom of heaven. +1.
    – user25930
    May 9, 2019 at 9:01
  • @ruminator - I have added to my initial answer as I did not have enough space in the comment box.
    – Michael
    May 9, 2019 at 22:13
  • So does he use "for..." to motivate them by fear? Or by something else?
    – Ruminator
    May 9, 2019 at 22:15
  • @ruminator - Honestly, I don't know. It might be fear, or compassion or both. In english I could read it aloud and change my tone of voice, but I don't know enough about the Greek to try and give an answer here...but Jude 23-25 does say "B merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh." NIV
    – Michael
    May 9, 2019 at 23:00

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