Today’s reading is Hebrews 4.
Our author encourages his audience to “strive” to enter the rest God has promised. The same word used here is employed by Paul to tell Timothy and Titus to “Do your best” (2 Timothy 2:15; 4:9, 21; Titus 3:12). It is the word Peter uses to encourage his readers to “be diligent” (2 Peter 1:10; 3:14). It’s the same word Paul uses elsewhere to talk about being “eager” (Galatians 2:10; Ephesians 4:3). In other words, we need to strive, to do our best, to be diligent, to be eager to enter the promised rest of God. We will not accidentally stumble into God’s rest. We will only get there on purpose.
However, our author’s reason for encouraging eagerness and diligence is anchored in the nature of God’s Word. God’s Word is living. It is not dead. It remains and abides (see also 2 Peter 1:23-25). It is active. That is, working. It accomplishes things. In fact, it accomplishes what God sent it to accomplish (see Isaiah 55:10-13). It is keen-edged and sharp. So sharp it can cut a dividing line between things that seem indivisible like soul and spirit, joints and marrow, thoughts and intentions. This is God’s voice and speech. His sight is also a reason to do our best. No one is hidden from Him. Even the darkest corner is bright to God (see Psalm 139:12).
The first time the term translated “word” in Hebrews 4:12 is used in this letter is Hebrews 2:2. There it is translated “message.” In that passage, the contrast was between the “word/message of angels” and the salvation declared by the Lord Jesus. Though “word/message” is not repeated, it is implied. The Lord-declared salvation is the “word” of the Lord attested by God’s Holy Spirit. The next time we find the term is in Hebrews 4:2, again translated “message.” The “message/word” is good news or gospel. The ancients had the word of God which was good news, but it did them no good because they didn’t believe it and pursue its promises. We have received good news as well, that is, the word of God. It will do us absolutely no good if we neglect and ignore it.
Specifically, our author is referring to the “word” or “message” from the Holy Spirit through David that we have as Psalm 95. That is God’s Word. He said it. It is certain. We can try to fight against it, but it is the sharpest sword we will ever face, and it will cut us down. We can try to hide from its message, but it is the brightest light and the most piercing eyes, and it will expose us before all.
Our author is essentially telling us we had better be eager to pursue God’s rest because it is certain and sure. If we neglect that salvation, that promise, that rest, all that is left us is the judgment promised by God’s Word. We won’t accidentally stumble our way in. We won’t get in because of heavenly red-tape or spiritual bureaucratic oversight. We won’t sneak past God while He’s looking some other way. There is only one way to enter God’s rest and that is based on God’s Word.
As we often say, “God’s way works.” It is the only one that does. The only way to be eager, to be diligent, to strive, to do our best to enter God’s rest is to listen to and follow God’s Word.
Tomorrow’s reading is Hebrews 4.
Discuss the Following Questions with Your Family
- What are your initial reactions to the chapter and the written devo above?
- What are your first impressions of our author’s view of God’s Word?
- How should we respond to God’s Word if what our author says is true?
- What comfort can we take in God’s Word if what he says is true?
- What do you think we should pray for and about in light of this chapter and today’s post?