Psalm 66, Isaiah 58, Hebrews 3-4, Numbers 13-14
How long have I spent on Hebrews 3 -4? A week? The over-familiarity with Hebrews 4:12 was a hindrance, I think.
12For 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.
This verse is pulled out and used out of context in talking about the Bible in general so often. I think that’s what tripped me up. The writer of Hebrews wasn’t going through a diatribe about the Bible; he was explaining about coming into God’s presence. He’s talking about receiving the good news and not being disobedient.
I went back again to the passage in Numbers where the Israelites choose to listen to the ten spies who recommend against going into the promised land, despite what Joshua and Caleb say.
Hebrews 3: 16For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:
What happened to those who were disobedient, who didn’t believe? They wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, the ten spies died from a plague, and some were killed by the sword. When Moses pronounced God’s judgment on them, that they would not enter the Promised Land, that they would wander, they mourned —
Numbers 14: 39When Moses told these words to all the people of Israel, the people mourned greatly. 40And they rose early in the morning and went up to the heights of the hill country, saying, “Here we are. We will go up to the place that the LORD has promised, for we have sinned.” 41 But Moses said, “Why now are you transgressing the command of the LORD, when that will not succeed? 42 Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, lest you be struck down before your enemies. 43For there the Amalekites and the Canaanites are facing you, and you shall fall by the sword. Because you have turned back from following the LORD, the LORD will not be with you.” 44 But they presumed to go up to the heights of the hill country, although neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses departed out of the camp. 45Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and defeated them and pursued them, even to Hormah.
The Israelites wanted to be follow God on their terms, when they wanted to, not obeying Him because He was God, but because they saw what could happen to them. The word of the Lord is sharper than those swords used by the Amalekites and Canaanites. The word of the Lord sees to the heart. It saw to the hearts of those grumblers in the wilderness, and it sees to the hearts of people today.
This is a call to obedience, not because we are afraid, but because we believe the promises God has for us.
I’m not really sure the writer of Hebrews meant 4:12 as a verse to be extrapolated and used in the way it is used today. It’s a call to believe today, to follow God today. Don’t be disobedient or rebellious. Believe. Follow.
The consequences of not following are disastrous.