Hebrews 12:18-19 / 22,24, “For you have not come to…a blazing fire and darkness and gloom…and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken….But you have come to Mount Zion…and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
The Speaker of Mount Sinai / the Old Covenant is the voice of thunder whose words made the hearers beg for its cessation (Heb.12:18-19), while the Speaker of Mount Zion / the New Covenant is the sprinkled blood of Christ that speaks a word of sanctification and redemption rather than condemnation (Heb.12:24).
What exactly is this “sprinkled blood” that the author talks about here? We know it is the blood of Christ, but why “sprinkled”? Why not spilled or poured? I think the answer there is that “sprinkled” alludes to the purifying application of sacrificial blood. The blood that speaks from Zion is the blood that Christ offered through the eternal Spirit to God for the purification of our consciences (ie, the taking away of condemnation) (Heb.9:13-14) so that we can draw near to God (Heb.10:22); and it is the blood that has inaugurated the New Covenant and opened the way into God’s gracious presence (Heb.9:18-24). The sprinkled blood that speaks from Zion is the blood of Christ, sprinkled on the Altar of the cross and on the “mercy seat” of Heaven’s Throne (indeed, in Christ, the Altar and the Throne are united); a sprinkling by which those who hide in Christ are made perfectly pure so as to draw near and enter into the final and true rest of YHWH Himself….
The voice of thunder caused those who heard it to shrink back in terror, the sprinkled blood causes those who “hear” it to draw near in full assurance of faith. And to be clear, the beauty here is that these two “voices” (one of thunder, one of blood) are NOT two Gods. The same God speaks in both….the One True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Creator of all, the YHWH of Sinai Himself speaks now from Zion through the Mediator—who is Himself; His own image and radiance—and in the blood.
Now—just because the blood that speaks from Zion invites us to draw near does not mean that it is not also a voice of weight and awe….indeed, the author implies that the word of the Sprinkled Blood is an even weightier word than that spoken by the Voice of Thunder (12:25). More than that, it seems that it will be through the speaking of the Sprinkled Blood that the Lord will “yet once more” shake all of creation so that only new creation remains (v.26-27). I think we can see at least a hint here that the word by which YHWH dismantles the present reality will not be spoken by the Voice of Thunder, but will instead be spoken by the Sprinkled Blood. The blood of Christ is the voice of God in this new era, and it will be by this voice that He “yet once more” shakes all of creation.
Does this seem nonsensical or farfetched? Consider that this is precisely what we see in Revelation. There it is the blood of the (Paschal) Lamb, sprinkled before God as a ransom for many (5:9) that serves as the impetus to / catalyst for / means of the dismantling and re-formation of all creation.
The blood that speaks a word of purification rather than condemnation, the blood that inaugurates the new covenant and opens the way into God’s own heart, the blood of the Image and Radiance of God, sprinkled on the Altar and on the Throne, the blood of the True Paschal Lamb, this blood is the final word of God by which He shakes not only the earth—as at Sinai—but all of created reality, and by it makes all things new.