Heb 4:12-16 NKJV For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (13) And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (14) Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (15) For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. (16) Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
In the Roman military there were many weapons, long sword, pike, spear, and short sword. Of those the most dangerous was the short sword, it was a two-edged sword so that the soldier using it could stab or cut from either side. If his stab was successful, then he could move that sword left and right and tear his opponent apart. The writer of Hebrews had this in mind when this passage was written. I remember very clearly attending a Church service at New Dorp Baptist Church in New Dorp town, Staten Island NY in November 1974. The pastor preached a sermon that deeply touched my soul, as he read the scriptures that night, the Spirit convicted me of my sinfulness. When the invitation was given at the close of the service, I walked down the aisle to the altar. Up until that night I was sure I was a Christian, that night however, I realized that I called myself a Christian, but I had not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and had not been saved. My life changed in 1974, I became that year a convicted soul, knowing my own sinfulness and knowing too that I had been saved by the grace of God, through Jesus Christ.
The gospel cut through all my excuses, all my holy stuff that was just fluff. I had grown up in the church, I was a member of the Moravian Church, had gone through all the training and joined the church when I was 14 years old. Knew all the rituals, served as an acolyte, even served as an usher. Then in 1962 I joined the U. S. Army and in three years learned how to drink, gamble, and other things. I had effectively left the faith, I still called myself a christian, but I was not a follower of Christ any longer. Satan had lured me away with various tricks that convinced me that it was more fun to be a nominal christian than to be a disciple of Christ.
Then that gospel message, cut through all the junk that I had built up over those years, convicted me of my sin and brought me to my knees at that altar. Like the two-edged sword of old, it chopped up my carefully constructed tower of lies and shone God’s light into my very soul. That is what the writer is talking about here, it is indeed a discerner of our true thoughts and deeds. It is alive, and it winnows its way into your very soul. In the word, God discerns who we are and what our true self really has become, and through the word, we are transformed into the image of Christ. Matthew Henry writes: “Those sinful habits that have become as it were natural to the soul, and rooted deeply in it, and become in a manner one with it, are separated and cut off by this sword. It cuts off ignorance from the understanding, rebellion from the will, and enmity from the mind, which, when carnal, is enmity itself against God.”
Verse 13 reminds us that there is nothing, that can be hidden from God. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” One of the truths of this is that the writer than goes on to state that Christ is our great high priest, aware of our own humanity.
It is Christ as the High Priest who dissects our sacrifice, as the High Priest of the Temple would cut open the animal sacrifice right to very spine to ensure that it was clean on the inside as it looked to be on the outside. So too does the Lord look deep into our hearts and minds and by that sword of the word, discerns what is our true state of being in this world. Just as one day we will stand before Him in truth at the judgment seat, to be judged then as to our true state for eternity. Will our name be found in the book of life, or will be sent to the nether regions, where there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. Are we true disciples or just faking it to get by thinking that God will not notice.
I am reminded of the story Ananias and Sapphira, they held some land and sold it and brought it to the church, Ananias gave the money to Peter and told him that this was the proceeds of the sale of the property, Peter asked simply, “why do you lie to the Holy Spirit?” Ananias died on the spot. Sapphira then comes to see Peter and he asks her the money that Ananias gave me was it the full sale price? She answers yes, Peter tells her that her husband said the same thing and look the men who carried him out to bury him are here now and will carry you out as well. She too died immediately and they buried her next to her husband.This story can be found in Acts 5.
As we read in Verse 15: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. He knows our human frailty.
Let us understand this High Priest, He is God, yet is called the Son of God, because He is the human face of God, the face that we can look upon without losing our life. He is the great High Priest because unlike the human high priest who entered into the Holy of Holies once a year.
Christ has entered into the heavenly realm and sits in the judgment seat on the right hand of the Throne of God. He performed on part of His high priestly duties on earth, by giving Himself as the eternal last sacrifice for all humankind. Once for all, thereby entering into the heavenly realms in His true glory to intercede for His people, send the Spirit to prepare a place for each of those who are his brethren and presenting our offerings before the throne of grace, where the Father receives them and blesses them to His service.
Yet, even though He is God, He is also disposed to us as one who lived among us, he has compassion upon us, intercedes for us before God. He was tempted by Satan, and was found to have no sin, not mark of any kind for the Devil to attach himself to. As a sinless man, He dealt with all the sins that we deal with yet without giving Himself over to them. He was sorely tried before men, and before heaven, yet sinned not, nor did He do violence to those who misused Him. Even to forgiving them for what they did to Him in their ignorance.
That is our High Priest and the writer then goes on to say that we are to hold fast to our confession. That we are to know without any doubt that our Lord and Savior is indeed that High Priest who has reserved for us a place in the Kingdom of God. That our confessing Him as our Lord and Savior is our pass into the presence of His majesty.
Finally, that as we know our High Priest not only as Lord and Savior, but also as Brother and God, that we are able to enter in before the throne of grace, and receive mercy and grace in our time of need. For He loves each of us and wants for us only the best and not the pain and suffering that this world brings, and that He understands only too well. Mercy and Grace are His gifts to us in our time of need.
What is this Mercy and Grace that we talk about? Well there are other possibilities when we get before God, there is the Great White Throne of judgment, where all are judged according to their deeds. There God metes out justice, and that justice Paul explains to us in the letter to the church at Rome. In Romans 6:23 we read this: “For the wages of sin is death,” That is the word of God for those who sin and do not repent before they leave this life. I am always amazed at those who say that God will never condemn anyone to hell. It is true, God doesn’t do that, we do it to ourselves by being unrepentant sinners.
For those of us who have become followers of Christ, we come before the Mercy seat, the seat of Grace. Even though we have sinned in our lives, we have repented of our sins, We receive mercy in that God forgives us our sins, and grace in that God cleanses us of all unrighteousness and makes us whole.
Sinners merit Hell, but Saints do not merit Heaven, it is a freely given gift of God because you have been cleansed of your sin, and are now able to enter into the precincts of heaven cleansed and whole, to live eternally in His presence, sharing in the bounties of Christ. I praise God and Thank God for cleansing my soul and making me whole, and share that grace with anyone I meet who may not know Jesus Christ as Lord.