Saturday, October 13, 2012

B, Post-Pentecost 20 Proper 23 – Hebrews 4:12-16 “The Test Not To Rest”

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For 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. 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. (Hebrews 4:12–13 ESV)
Picture a warrior swinging his weapon to and fro. He is a sight to be reckoned with. A Goliath of a swordsman; unavoidable, with a huge reach, touting his razor sharp sword!
And this sword cuts easily, no matter how he handles it. Not just one blade, but two. If by some stroke of luck he misses the enemy on the forehand blow, he gets them with the backhand sinking the blade into the flesh violently like a butcher but with the skill of a finely tuned surgeon cutting out cancer.
Surprisingly the more this sword cuts the sharper it gets. There's no need for the warrior to retreat to brush his blunt blade on steel to bring back its edge. This weapon is living and active, it hacks off all that is flotsam and jetsam, the idols of dead wood, the very things threatening to scuttle life into the abyss, casting adrift all that tests one's floating on that which it should be peacefully at rest.
This double edged sword, that never misses its mark, is the word of God. When one seeks to test God and sever themselves from his rest, God the Father sends out his swordsman of the word, the Holy Spirit, to cut right to the heart of the matter.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.' As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.' " Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:7–14 ESV)
God swore in his wrath, and many Israelites fell by the sword of his wrath, his word of wrath for those who refused to listen, his wrath on those who refused to hear the word of God, and rest in his faithfulness.
On the first day of creation God created light. We now have the light of God, time from God to rest in him, with him, in his peace, the tranquil paradise of his word, his eternal unchanging word. God created this light so we have time to call on his name, to sit in his presence, to enjoy the fellowship of the promise we all have in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Is it hardness of hard, that many of us today have no time for God? Is the measly time we give to him just a display to keep up appearances? How much time do you give to God in secret? …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. (Hebrews 4:12 ESV) Perhaps we seem to work so hard and get nothing done, today and everyday becomes a waste of time, because we have no quality time for God? No quality time with God!
We live in restless times! Amassed around are all the pleasures of life, yet still the heart churns. There is no rest within ourselves, nor is there much with those God places us amongst. Our lot in life seems laborious, monotonous, lacking in something.
We who are baptised, churn more than the next bloke! Why is this? We have been given access into the eternal rest of God by our baptism into the death of his Son.  Yet still we seem not to be able to get out of the depths of our depression with all of our earthly delusions. Is it because we still listen to the powers of this world in favour of the powerful workings of God? Have you given adequate time to not only hear but to listen to the word of God in your heart, so the Holy Spirit can daily raise you in faith from the death of your old Adam?
And so the swordsman comes to those whom have been given the sword of the word in baptism. When we fail to use the word on ourselves, you can guarantee the Holy Spirit will come swinging the double edged sword of the word in you. 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. (Hebrews 4:13 ESV)
So now that he gets amongst the thoughts and intentions of your heart, piercing your very soul, your human spirit and existence, what are you going to do? Or more importantly, what is God doing with you?
Do you know that God is seeking to bring you into his rest? Perhaps it's time for us to get back in the boat, and step out of the storms we have stirred up in our lives. Testing God with our strength is either ignorant or just plain stupid, yet all of us seem to make the same mistake over and over again. Exercising the power of our old Adam is nothing more than a return to testing God in all his almighty power. We are telling God the Father we have no time for his Son, our high priest, the sacrifice for our sin and the light of our life.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15 ESV)
Hear that folks! Sin, tempted, weakness! God knows you struggle, he knows you fail, and he knows your old Adam better than you know it yourself! The Holy Spirit is sent to help. He helps us enter into the presence of the Lord, to call on the name of the Lord. And most of all the Holy Spirit leads us into the word of God, so we might allow this sin, temptation and weakness be covered with crucifixion of the Word made flesh, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus became weak as we are weak, he was tempted as we are tempted, yet knowing no sin, he made payment for your sin on the cross made his, which should bear our weak bodies, which cannot stand against evil, that succumb to temptations, and sin against God and those whom God has placed us amongst.
So despite your weakness, temptation, sin, and believing you are that which God sees, "let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16 ESV)
We need, we are helpless, let the Holy Spirit guide you in the word of God, so that you might be continually guided back into God's holy rest, at peace and confident in the power of Jesus' death and resurrection over your sin, temptation, and weakness.
See the warrior with the double edged sword; let him cut from you all that separates you from peace, joy, eternal wealth and confidence. Let him remover from you, sin, death, and the devil!
Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:11 ESV)