Drinking Deeply

Monday, May 28, 2007 at 12:15 PM

Rethinking Memory Verses: Hebrews 4:12

One of the more annoying (but refreshing) aspects of actually reading chunks of the Bible at a time is that you realize that all those great verses that you memorized ages ago aren't really being used in the Bible as you originally thought.

Here's another case.
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.
Originally, I thought here the "word of God" referred to the Bible, those 66 books that are spoken of as "God-inspired," and infallible. And certainly, that conclusion is true. Elsewhere the Bible (specifically the Law) is spoken of as reviving the soul () and life-giving. And by having a God who knows all things, it necessarily follows that the Bible will never go out of style and will always be necessary. Thus Timothy is encouraged to preach the Word, in season and out ().

And faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (, though admittedly referring to the preached word rather than a written one).

So it is true that the Bible as we now have it is living and active. It lives and gives life, it is always applicable and necessary for salvation, and it acts, it awakens faith (or it hardens hearts).

But the text itself actually isn't referring to the Bible, and a quick examination of the context makes that clear -


1Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2For 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.[a] 3For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

"As I swore in my wrath,
'They shall not enter my rest,'"

although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works." 5And again in this passage he said,

"They shall not enter my rest."

6Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7again he appoints a certain day, "Today," saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

"Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts."

8For if Joshua had given them rest, God[b] would not have spoken of another day later on. 9So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

11Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 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. 13And 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 is the passage talking about? It's talking about entering God's rest, entering the rest for the people of God, salvation.

And the author of Hebrews doesn't use verse 12 as an encouragement to keep reading your Bible, but instead he uses it as a stern warning.
11Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 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. 13And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
So what is the author of Hebrews saying? I think v.13 lays down the interpretive lens here -

"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."

To look at that interpreting the word of God I think we see that the word of God isn't used here as Scripture specifically, but it seems more like power. A creative and spoken power which upholds the universe yes, but not really Scripture.

To rephrase and interpret -

Let us strive to enter the rest of God, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience, because we know that God's power is living and active, it searches out everything and can break everything apart. Nothing will ever happen, even in our hearts, without God's knowledge. And one day we will all be called to account for what we do.

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