For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
What the Old Testament describes in physical and material terms is often worked out in spiritual terms in the New Testament. Chapter 4 of Hebrews explains how it is possible to enter God’s rest or Sabbath in our lives. There have always been large numbers of people who struggle to find an inner rest or peace. There are many famous artists in all the forms of the arts who have achieved greatness drawing on their lack of inner rest for inspiration. They may have earned great acclaim in the process but they have literally suffered for their art. We may have a place where we go to find that rest, the place could be an activity e.g. gardening, making music or mountain walking, however when we return to ‘real life’ the lack of peace has a habit of returning.
The New Testament says that lack of lasting peace is a consequence of rebellion towards God. In the Old Testament entering the promised land stood for entering God’s rest. When Israel rebelled after being led to freedom from Egyptian slavery God swore they would not enter his rest (the promised land) and so Israel did not do so until that generation had died out. ‘And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.’ Hebrews 3.18-19 The writer of the Hebrews applies the same division in spiritual terms to those who believe in Jesus and those who do not. When speaking of those who have heard the gospel and rejected it he says they are unable to enter God’s rest. ‘For the good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.’ Hebrews 4.2 He goes on to warn those Jews that they will not enter God’s rest on the basis of their nationality alone, they have to listen to and obey and believe the gospel. He quotes Psalm 95.7-8, ‘Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.’
The writer then urges people to do everything they can to enter God’s rest through faith. What the ESV translates as ‘strive’ The Message translates as ‘keep at it’. In other words, be persistent in seeking faith and obedience. Does that seem like a contradiction, how can one strive for faith? Doesn’t one either have faith or not? However, today’s quotation above, explains the reality of how faith is gained. The Spirit of God uses the word of God to penetrate our doubts, questions, struggles and desire to rebel against God to reveal his truth. God is able to discern our thoughts and intentions, nothing is hidden from him. Hebrews 4.12-13 However, his word reveals to ourselves his truth and the truth about ourselves. What we do with that revelation is of course up to us. We will live with the consequences as did those who rebelled in the desert.
Are we ready for the revelation of Christ this Christmas?
Come Lord Jesus – Noel Richards