Sunday, August 23, 2009

Need Rest? Grab Your Sword! - Hebrews 4

"For the word of God is living and active
and sharper than any two edged sword,
and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit,
of both joints and marrow,
and able to judge the thoughts and intentions
of the heart."
(vs 12)

Here is one of your classic "stick it on a t-shirt, bumper sticker, wall placque, or Bible book bag" verses. You'll see it, hear it, and perhaps even say it often. This is not an unfamiliar passage of Scripture. It's a notable quotable.

One thing I've come to realize is that familiar passages of Scripture can become over-familiar and that the context and telos of the words then becomes unfamiliar.

Hebrews 4 begins with the admonition for us to "fear lest, while a promise remains of entering rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it" (vs 1). The writer goes on to inform his audience that they are among those who have heard the preached word. Yet, among them are those who have not profitted from it because their hearing was not joined with believing. His point: everybody seems to want to enter into "rest" but true rest is for those who hear and believe and obey, not just for those who are present and pretending to listen yet continue on in their hard heartedness! (OK, that was a mouthful!)

Hear some selections of the apostle's words from chapter 4:

"For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, 'As I swore in My wrath they shall not enter My rest'.... Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts. There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God..... Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience."

The "let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest..." falls immediately before our famous verse. We have an admonition and a warning. "Therefore"- in light of the fact that there are those who have not entered rest because of their unbelief - "be diligent to enter that rest." Bottom line: hard work in spiritual things is the road to true rest. While we are here we are to be working. Working at loving God more - with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. Laboring to know Him more. Striving to serve Him more. Not that we might "earn" rest but that we might "enter" rest. The best rest I've ever had has come after a hard day of diligent work. In the same way, "now is our working time and those who will not work will not enter into rest."

All of that leads us up to these well known words.:

"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

The field of the Word of God is the greatest place we can farm if we want to be prepared for true and lasting rest. The Word of God is our help in finding rest.

Mr. Henry writes: "It is quick; it is very lively and active, in seizing the conscience of the sinner, in cutting him to the heart, and in comforting him and binding up the wounds of the soul.

"It is powerful. It convinces powerfully, converts powerfully, and comforts powerfully. It is powerful to batter down Satan's kingdom, and to set up the kingdom of Christ upon the ruins thereof.

"It is sharper than any two-edge sword. It will enter where no other sword can, and make a more critical dissection: it pierces to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, the soul and its habitual prevailing temper; it makes a soul that has been a long time of a proud spirit to be humble, of a perverse sprit to be meek and obedient.

"This sword divides between the joints and the marrow. This sword can make men willing to undergo the sharpest operation for the mortifying of sin.

"It is a discerner of the heart. The word will turn the inside of a sinner out, and let him see all that is in his heart."

Are you longing for true rest? Then "let us fear" lest we fall short of it. "Let us maintain a holy and religious fear lest we should fall short. Presumption is the high road to ruin." In righteous fear let us be diligent to enter into real rest by walking in the way of the Word not in the way of the world. Let that living, active, sharp, piercing sword of the Spirit do the work in you that is necessary in order for you to find rest for your weary soul.

Diligently pursuing Christ through His word,

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