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Epistle to the Hebrews 4: 6-13 (NIV)
6 Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, 7 God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.” This he did when a long time later he spoke through David, as in the passage already quoted:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight” (verse 13a). This extends beyond the physical world, beyond all that is temporal. Even our attitudes and intentions and what we might think of as our secret thoughts are uncovered and laid bare before him to whom we must give account.
The closer we draw to God, the more our consciences are receptive to him and the more we are able to respond in accordance with his purposes. You may have discovered that, as you read God’s word in holy Scripture, the word presents the message of that book of the Bible and, simultaneously, it speaks into your conscience, rebuking or correcting you even before you may have had opportunity to act on what is no more than a thought. We can understand from personal experience therefore how the writer of this Epistle to the Hebrews regards the word of God to be “alive and active”.
Where is the conscience located? Does it reside in an individual’s soul? Does it reside in the spirit? Wherever the conscience is to be found, it is not concealed from God’s word.
Why did the writer introduce this description of the power of God’s word precisely at this point in the Epistle? I wonder if he was reflecting on what he had written about “those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them” (verse 6)? They “did not go in (to God’s rest) because of their disobedience” (verse 6b). There the writer was referring to the children of Israel, led by Moses, who spent forty years in the wilderness and perished. It was the next generation who, led by Joshua, entered the “promised land”.
The writer urged that those receiving his Epistle should make every effort to enter that rest. His intention was that “no one will perish by following their example of disobedience” (verse 11).
We are to continue in obedience to God’s word and we are to invite God’s word to hone our consciences. Speaking into “the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts” (verse 12), God’s word will not only judge us but will also teach us and promote our growth in faithfulness.