Stain glass window of a man with a Bible and a sword

Let him dissect you (Hebrews 4:12-16)

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1. The word like a knife

This section from Hebrews gives us the image of the word of God as if it were a sword or a very sharp knife. A sword that can penetrate to the most intimate part of a person.

I don’t have a sword, but here I have two knives. Notice the difference. One is blunt and the other is sharp. Which would be better for bread and jam? And to cut a tomato? You need the right knife.

And in the hands of a surgeon? A knife sharper than for the tomato, right? But be careful. The body needs a sharp knife to avoid further damage, but a sharp knife can do a lot of damage.

Keeping all this in mind, we read: For the word of God is alive 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. (verse 12).

Remember the context: last week we talked about being saved but then we find ourselves in the desert. It is to give us the opportunity to show our trust in God and his word. The context is that we must take care to listen to his voice. And what does the word, the voice, do at this moment? It dissects us. It’s not surprising that the desert is uncomfortable, that the temptation is not to listen but to rebel. It seems that the word want kills us. We have experienced salvation; why does God treat us like this? Because he wants a relationship as deep as possible with us. The only way to deepen a relationship is by true words. That’s why sex is not enough to maintain a relationship.

You have noticed how we are made to relate, right? That’s why Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram. You’ve also noticed why we feel more alone in such a connected world, right? Because these types of relationships lack depth. The names of the apps and social networks show it. Imagine if it were Heartbook instead of Facebook, Essay instead of Twitter, Deepchat instead of Snapchat, Complete Picture instead of Instagram.

The way to know someone is by words expressed, and the deeper the better. But there’s a problem. Deeper words leave us vulnerable. We feel naked and at the mercy of the other person.

If knowing another person like this is uncomfortable, how much more God? In the desert the word of God exposes our true selves, our weaknesses and sins. According to verse 13: Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Is it worth being naked like that? The Israelites on the journey to the promised land decided no. They preferred to die in the desert, instead of having this kind of relationship at the mercy of God.

What they did not remember is that God has already rescued them. This process was not to destroy them. Can it be that God wants to destroy those he has just rescued, the people whom he called him his firstborn son? Of course not. He wanted to make them more and more like his son. And the only way to do it is with true and profound words. Words that express the most intimate part of who we are.

2. The relief of being exposed

That’s because the word of God does expose us, but it also relieves us. Now the writer calls our attention to Jesus. From verse 14 to 16: Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Next week we’ll dedicate time to the subject of priesthood. Today, I want us to look at the connection between the word that exposes and the word that relieves. Remember that Jesus is also the word of God. The first verse of the letter says: In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.

The word that strips us was subject to the same temptations as us, that is Jesus. He knew the weakness. This should catch our attention: the Word has lived by the same word in the same circumstances. Only, he never sinned. That is, Jesus maintained his confidence in the true word. And so, when the word, “crucify him”, was proclaimed, it had no effect. Jesus lives again. When the life of Jesus was exposed on the cross and called to account, it he was declared righteous. The strongest word, righteous, won.

So, verse 16: Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

The word that cuts like a knife also heals like an ointment. It is one and the same. And it shows the deep goodness of God and the reality of the desert, which is not to kill us but to make us more and more his children. What a living and active word! To be able to share your deepest secrets, the deepest sins and find relief. It turns out that what kills us is not being exposed but to not be being exposed.

3. Deepening the relationship

Verse 14: let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. What is the faith, the trust, that we profess? That I can live, trusting in the word of God. It is a continual conversation. Can I listen to God all the time? Yes.

The way to listen well is to allow the written word to form you so that you hear well all the time. The more this word forms the conversation of your life the more you will hear more clearly the voice of God. This is like any relationship. You learn to recognise a voice by listening to it. Just like you can recognise a friend’s voice on a crowded street. And it’s only when the voice is recognised that you can respond.

Remember that when the word of God exposes your sins, your weaknesses, it is not to destroy you. God does not want to destroy what he has rescued. It is to bring mercy. So that like Jesus ,we can participate in the heavens, that is, be in the presence of God forever. What the word of God does in our lives is an act of love. If you do not understand that, you will live in fear of God.

Our confidence is that this word, the voice of God, I can encounter in every moment, deepening in the truth so that I am more and more whole, like Jesus. Do not fear the desert and the voice of God. He is talking so that we approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash