In this section the Holy Spirit presents to you three ‘aids’, which will enormously support you and which are also absolutely essential for you on your road to the rest. These supporting aids are:
1. the Word (verses 12-1312For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.13And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.);
2. the Lord Jesus as High Priest (verses 14-1514Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.15For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as [we are, yet] without sin.);
3. the throne of grace (verse 1616Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.).
Seek your help only there and there alone to conquer all adversaries (Psa 60:1212Through God we shall do valiantly,
And it is He who will tread down our adversaries.).
1. The Word guards over your inward and judges sin;
2. the High Priest guards over you with regard to every circumstance you found yourself, He suffers with you and He helps you;
3. the Throne of grace is where you can always come boldly like going to the Lord Jesus.
You see, everything is taken care of. This is how God is for His people.
V1212For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.. We first look at the Word. In what you read about the Word three features of God are presented: life, power and omniscience. Beware of making the mistake to criticize the Word, for the consequences are fatal. You are not the one to judge the Word, but the Word should judge you. In fact you do not know your own heart, but God surely knows it (Jer 17:99“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
). Through the Word you learn to know your own heart. When you read the Word, sin and unbelief become apparent. If you are sincere in your heart, this judgment about the effects on the heart has a great value (Psa 139:23-2423Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.).
The “Word of God is living”, because this Word is the Word of the living God. He gave to Israel ‘living words’ (Acts 7:3838This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and [who was] with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you.). The Word is also “active”. It is not like the empty words of people, without content. It ‘works in you who believe’ (1Thes 2:1313For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted [it] not [as] the word of men, but [for] what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.), but it also accuses (Jn 5:4545Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope.). Furthermore it is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Rev 1:1616In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.; Eph 6:1717And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.). By using it it is destroying, it cuts away what is not supposed to be; it kills what is not supposed to live.
It is not only destroying, it is also discerning. In that way it is “piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit” which means that the Word discerns what comes from the soul and what comes from the spirit. The ‘soul’ rather indicates feelings and lusts, the ‘spirit’ indicates more the hidden considerations and belief or unbelief. Soul and spirit are, so to say, the two parts of the non-material nature of man.
The Word also unveils the distinction between “joints” and “marrow”, whereby ‘joints’ indicates more the outer actions and the ‘marrow’ the inner power of those actions. The sinfulness of the human heart shows itself by the members of the body that are functioning through ‘joints’ and ‘marrow’.
Soul and spirit on the one hand and joints and marrow on the other hand present the total man. In this way the writer shows that no single aspect of the total man escapes from the operation of the Word of God.
Finally it is said of the Word that it is “able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (cf. 1Chr 28:99“As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.). Here we have come to the most inner part of man, the center from where soul and spirit and joints and marrow are being directed in their operations. What becomes visible in life emerges from the heart. Therefore you should keep your heart above everything that should ever be kept (Pro 4:2323Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it [flow] the springs of life.
). And therefore the Word has been given to you. So use it!
V1313And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.. In this verse the writer suddenly moves from the Word of God to God Himself. What the Word does, God does. This connection between the Word that is being addressed to you and God Himself is remarkable. The Word comes from God. It is as it were His eye that is focused on your conscience and that brings you into His presence. God exposes everything in you.
He does not do that for Himself, for He does not need it. There are no secret things for Him that He should expose. All things are naked and opened before His eyes. But He wants to make you aware that you are dealing with Him. You are going your way under the all-seeing eye of the living God. If you are aware of that, you will, in self-judgment, put away everything that could possibly hinder you to persevere in the way of faith.
V1414Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.. Then the writer comes back to his main subject: the High Priest in the heavens (Heb 2:1717Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.; 3:11Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;). The ministry of the Lord Jesus as High Priest is diverse. Therein the grace of God is revealed magnificently. Consider just the connection with the two previous verses about what the Word does. When the Word exposes in you whatever can go wrong, don’t you see your weakness and incapability to reach the final goal by your own strength?
Therefore it is a great blessing that you have a great High Priest and a throne of grace. The Lord Jesus exerts His high priesthood in heaven, where God is, in order to help you from there in accordance to Whom God is. Christ not only went into heaven, but He passed through the heavens. He did not stay in the first or second heaven, but He entered the third and highest heaven.
So He is not only High Priest, He is the Son of God. To be able to become a High Priest the Lord Jesus has gone a long way. He has become Man and has suffered on earth. He also accomplished the work of propitiation. Then He passed through the heavens to take His place on the throne of grace. He is also appointed by God as Son over His house and He now can also suffer with us in our weaknesses. Without being the Son of God He couldn’t be our High Priest. However, now He is able to comfort us as Man, while He, with the full knowledge of God as Son, draws near to God for us.
Therefore it is justified that He is called here the ‘great High Priest’. That’s something that was never said of any high priest in the Old Testament. Again and again the writer points to the greatness of the Lord Jesus. Here He is great in His compassion for us. He is “Jesus the Son of God”. ‘Jesus’, the humiliated Man on earth in all our afflictions, Who as ‘the Son of God’ can suffer with all His own.
Now He has been presented like that, the writer exhorts us again to hold fast the confession, which is hold on to Him Whom you confess. You are on the way to Him and you may thereby know that He helps you.
V1515For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as [we are, yet] without sin.. And Who is He Who helps you? He is Somebody Who knows exactly whatever you’re going through and Who understands you thoroughly, because He Himself also has gone through all of that. You can count on His suffering with you.
To sympathize with another person it is not necessary that you feel at the same time what the other person feels. When you suffer pain you cannot think of the pain of someone else. Though to share in suffering you ought to have a nature that enables you to be aware of what the pain of the other person is.
This is how Jesus exerts His high priesthood. In every way He is beyond the reach of pain and affliction, but He is Man and He not only has the nature of man who used to suffer pain, but He underwent afflictions that a believer has to endure in a more than perfect way than any of us ever endures.
He was tempted in all points as you are, “[yet] without sin”. That doesn’t mean ‘without sinning’, but it means that He absolutely had no part in sin. He knew no sin (2Cor 5:2121He made Him who knew no sin [to be] sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.); in Him there is no sin (1Jn 3:55You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.). Satan had nothing in Him (Jn 14:3030I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me;) – neither did God find anything in Him (Psa 17:33You have tried my heart;
You have visited [me] by night;
You have tested me and You find nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
) – whatever could be a point of reference to sin.
His suffering was not caused by sin (as it could be the case with us) and it neither led Him to sin. But because He was tempted, He is able to fully sympathize with you. He feels what you feel and therefore He is able to understand and help you. He cannot sympathize with your sins. If you have sinned, He is the Advocate with the Father (1Jn 2:11My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;). Infirmities are no sins. Paul boasted in his infirmities (2Cor 12:9-109And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.10Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.), but never in his sins.
V1616Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.. When the writer has presented the glory of the great High Priest to you like that, it could only cause the result that your heart is full of boldness to come “to the throne of grace”. You may say that to yourself: ‘I can come with boldness, because I can liberally look God in the eyes, because my sins are taken away and also because the High Priest, Who can sympathize with my infirmities, is there.’
‘The throne of grace’ reminds us of the ark in the tabernacle. God dwelled between the cherubim on the mercy seat of the ark. That throne was a judgment throne, but through the offering that the judgment had borne, the blood was sprinkled on the ark. Therefore the judgment throne has now changed into a throne of grace. To us Christ became the offering and through His blood we are able to come to the throne of grace. Christ Himself was set forth by God as a throne of grace (Rom 3:2525whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. [This was] to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;). Therefore you may come to God without any hesitation. This you do when you focus on God directly from your heart and tell Him everything that is within it.
Christ represents you there and therefore God is pleased towards you. You take refuge in the throne of grace, because you are aware that you will fail if God doesn’t help you. Then you receive “mercy”, that is God’s sympathy in your circumstances; you are made aware again of His mercy and protection. You also find “grace”: you are made aware again that you stand in grace with God (Rom 5:22through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.).
This awareness is your “help in time of need”, at the crucial moment, the moment that the hardships nearly become too much for you. You suddenly see again that God is greater than the hardships and that the Lord Jesus is always beside you in times of difficulties.
Now read Hebrews 4:12-16 again.
Reflection: Just reconsider the means that God has provided you with and thank Him for them. Ask Him to help you to use them extensively.