Friday, October 2, 2020

The Power of the Word

"For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

It is dangerous to despise God’s revelation through angels in the old covenant, but it is more dangerous to despise God’s revelation through His Son in the new covenant. Yesterday we saw that if rebellion against Moses’ house brought the wrath of God upon the people, how much more will rebellion against the Messiah’s house.

The author of Hebrews continues this theme in Hebrews 4. Because of their rebellion, none of the men who left Egypt under Moses entered into the Sabbath-rest of the promised land except Joshua and Caleb. The next generation under Joshua did enter that promised rest—several generations later. David in Psalm 95:7–8 prophesied a greater Sabbath-rest for which the godly still looked (Hebrews 4:6–8). Thus, the rest Joshua gave the people was only a foretaste of the greater Sabbath rest to come.

God Himself had worked six days and rested on the seventh. God invites men to enter into His rest (Hebrews 4:4–5). There is an initial entrance into rest by faith (4:3), but the fullness of that rest comes after perseverance in faith (4:11). The danger is that having begun in the kingdom and having received the initial rest, we fail to persevere and come to the final rest.

It is in this context that the author tells us that God’s Word is alive and powerful. The Scriptures not only must be heard and obeyed but also forcefully affect the minds of those who read and hear them. The Scriptures bring judgment and death, “dividing soul and spirit.” Like the sacrificial knife, they divide “joints and marrow.” The Scriptures expose the thoughts of the heart, and bring everything under the eye of the God who judges all things (4:12–13).

Thus, the primary thrust of these verses is that God’s Word will judge those who apostatize from the faith. This great threat of judgment hangs over everyone, and the only salvation from it is in Christ, our great High Priest. Only by holding firmly to the faith will we move from rest to rest; only in the sacrificial substitutionary death of Jesus will we be spared from the sacrificial knife of the judging Word (4:14).

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love,” wrote the hymnist. The warnings in Hebrews are designed to shake us up. We can be assured of salvation, and we should have assurance, but such is only for those who hold fast to the Bible and faith in Jesus. If you’ve been wandering, flee back to Him today.