The Hebrew writer continues the theme he began in chapter 3 of the rest that was prepared by God for us – “his works were finished from the foundation of the world.” “Rest” here for us is entrance into heaven. They received “good news” in the old covenant, but the message did not benefit them because they were not faithful in their belief. The point that the writer is making in the first few verses is that the promise is ours to forfeit – just as it was theirs (verse 11). Verse 12’s reference to the word of God as “living” is not in the sense of John 1:1, but that of 1 Peter 1:23 and others that refer to it as such.
Coffman says a lot about verse 12 that seems right on the mark: “The word ‘active’ shows that the word does not lie inert and dead but at all times carries within itself the mighty power of its divine author. Rather than trying to find subtle differences in the meaning of such words as ‘soul’ and ‘spirit,’ it is perhaps just as well to view this verse as a heaping together of powerful terms for the purpose of showing the utmost ability of the word of God to penetrate the complex inward nature of man, to convict him of sin, to expose his hidden motives, and to judge the very nature of life itself….The passage presents God’s word as totally different from the word of men, making it infinite in power, all-seeing in discernment, and able to pierce or penetrate any human subterfuge.”
And just so, verse 13 tells the reader that there is nobody that can hide from Him – we are all “naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
Verses 14-16 pick back up on Chapter 3’s reference to Jesus as our high priest – a subject to which the writer speaks much about in this epistle – and points out that he is not one that is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. The Lord experienced temptation “in every respect,” it says. So we can approach our Father through Him with confidence (verse 16) “that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” What a reassuring passage! We often speak of someone “being there” for us. Jesus truly is!
Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com. For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.