13 October 2017Hebrews 4:12-13
“The word of God is living and active” (v. 12)
Psalm: Psalm 102:12-22
Throughout this week we've seen how the author of Hebrews is writing to encourage people to stay faithful to Christ, and the Hebrew Scriptures (in particular Psalm 8 and Psalm 95) is unpacked to explain what is happening and to undergird the argument. In the two verses which form today's passage, the writer pauses for a moment to stress why their use of Scripture and desire to hear the living word of God is so important.
It may help us to remember some of Jesus' encounters with the Pharisees. The Pharisees were a lay renewal movement in the nation of Israel who sought to revitalise the nation by building 'a fence around the law'. They did this by developing regulations designed to ensure that people didn't accidentally break God's law. Jesus' major criticism of them was that, far from bringing new life, they had actually suffocated God's word and failed to help people to encounter the living God.
Scripture, today's passage affirms, is thus more than a rule book to be protected or a historical account to be consulted as the need arises. It is the living word of the living God. And here we are reminded that, as we hear and seek to interpret the Scripture, so God evaluates us.
Once again we see the way in which our author can sometimes use the carrot of encouragement and sometimes the stick of warning. Thus we read that we are all accountable to the God from whom nothing can be hidden. But while these words seem undoubtedly stern, they may also bring us comfort in that the God who knows the secrets of our hearts is also the God of mercy.
- What helps you to experience the word of God as alive and active?
- Are there living words of Scripture which, as Christians today, we are failing to hear and heed? What might they be?