God has the sharpest sword

Nothing is hidden

Hebrews 4:1–13

If you imagine that you have secrets, think again.

We all have a lot of things that other people don’t know about us, and that is probably good. So I guess we all have secrets from each other. We also have lots of things we don’t know about ourselves. But God sees all.

In verse 13 the writer of Hebrews says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.”

He knows my thoughts better than I do. God knows my motivation in detail.

This is the meaning of verse 12. The writer draws a picture of three pairs of indistinguishable things. The first is soul and spirit. This verse is not a comment on the human nature. It is not saying we have a distinct soul and a separate distinct spirit. It is saying that our God sees in such intimate detail that even the smallest things are known to him. The same is seen easily in the comparison of thoughts and desires. A little less obvious is joint and marrow.

Can you see what is joint and what is marrow? They are hidden in the body where you cannot see either of them without surgery. God sees them and knows the difference.

The marrow of a bone is in the very core of the bone and it is there that most of the red blood cells are produced. Some white cells are also produced there. The joint is the point of connection on the outside of the bone itself that joins it to another bone. So it seems that this verse is referring to the whole outside of the bone. It appears to say that the Word of God is sharp enough to separate between the inside and the outside of the bone.

The word for ‘joint’ in Aramaic can also be translated membrane, or covering.

Inside a bone is the marrow, surrounded by actual bone cells. This is where the blood vessels are. And the outside membrane. This membrane is a hard substance called the periosteum. It is extremely difficult to slice between these three parts because they are fused together to form the bone. It can be done, but only with the very sharpest knife or tool.

These verses are telling us how precisely and exactly God knows where the line is between the two. A line we cannot even see. The line between life and death. Any line in life you like to name. God is the one who sees the division between success and failure.

In today’s Scripture reading, the line is the one between rest and no rest. It is the line between obedience and disobedience.

What we are looking at today is a sermon on Psalm 95. The preacher explains why the ancestors of the Jewish people did not enter the rest that God had promised them.

First, what is this rest? When God finished creation, he rested on the seventh day. The seventh day of the week is a day when people rest from their own work. Those who are Christian have already entered rest, because we have ceased doing our own work. We now do only his work. The rest of the future is also a place we enter where there is a rest from war and misery and suffering. It is a spiritual rest and a physical rest.

The writer says in verse three, ‘only we who believe can enter his rest.’ God has prepared this rest. It exists. It is there in front of us, but it does no good to those who do not believe.

Without belief, you cannot get the rest that God has prepared. We have said it before, and we will say it again. Believe is not an intellectual exercise. For example, look at the Hebrew slaves in the desert. Verse six says, ‘those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God.’

They knew there was a god. They went so far as to create a golden calf so that they could worship god. The problem of the Hebrews was not that they didn’t believe God existed. It was that they didn’t obey God. Instead of doing what they were told, they made the golden calf and worshipped that as God.

He says the Israelites in the desert rebelled because they did not believe the word of God that Moses gave them. Their rest was the final stage in their journey across the desert to the promised land. The Jewish people never fully conquered the promised land. They never kicked out the heathen tribes and took possession of the land. By the time Jesus came, they thought it would only happen at the end of the world. They expected the end of the world to come soon.

Now the writer of Hebrews is warning the followers of Jesus that they are in the same danger.

Joshua led the people into the promised land, but they never took full possession of it. Now Jesus is leading the people into the kingdom of heaven, but we have to obey in order to gain full possession. Emphasising the parallel, the names Joshua and Jesus are the same name.

The main point is that the promised rest is still in the future.

The Hebrews in the desert did not simply fail to believe in the existence of God. The point is made that they failed to work hard at obedience to God.

And so the writer says in Hebrews 3:12, ‘Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.’

We have hard work to do before we can enter the promised rest. It is not our work. It is Christ’s work. It is the hard work of obedience and love in a world of sin.

We have to work hard, without rest, to resist temptation. We have to work hard every day to resist the desire to rebel and wander of into our own ways.

Verse 11, ‘So let us do our best to enter that rest. But if we disobey God, as the people of Israel did, we will fall.’

Being a Christian is no more guarantee of entering God’s rest than being a Hebrew was a guarantee for the Chosen people under Joshua. Being an obedient child of God is the way into the perpetual rest. Having the Holy Spirit living in us is a sign that we are a child of God.

God knows the exact moment that you cross the line from obedience to disobedience. The sword that can separate the two represents the tongue. The word of God will be able to tell you precisely how to stay on the right side of the line, but you have to listen.

How will you listen to this living word? And having heard it, how will you respond?

The Bible is the first place to turn to hear God’s word. It is a living word that speaks to us from the pages of a book by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We can hear God’s word as we let the Holy Spirit teach us. Prayer is an important part of reading the Bible.

And then our work is to obey the living word. The response you make to the living word of God will determine if you enter the rest that God has promised. We must now so we don’t give way to unbelief.

Hebrews 2:1, “we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.”

Hebrews 3:1, “think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest.”

Hebrews 3:12, “Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God.”

Hebrews 3:15, “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.”

Listen to the truth of God. Don’t listen to the lies of the world, the lies of Satan. Obey the word of God.

Amen 아멘

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About Pastor Simon

Pastor at Jinju International Christian Fellowship. Formerly of Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK. I am Simon Warner of Jinju Church. We speak English at Jinju Church, South Korea.
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