Lesson 10: "All Things Are Naked and Open Unto the Eyes of Him" (Hebrews 4:13)
The Book of Hebrews. Welcome again! This is lesson #10. In lesson # 10 we would like to finish the 32 verses we blocked out to consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession (as mentioned back in 3:1). Everything that has been said thus far is said with respect to our relationship to Jesus the Christ who is to us a High Priest, one appointed of God, i.e. an Apostle of God also called the Son of God. "God...hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." God's Son is superior to the old prophets, he is superior to Moses, and he is superior to the angels. "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him?" (2:3). Jesus, the Captain of our salvation, was made perfect through sufferings (2:10). None can qualify to lead us as Jesus is qualified. He is an appointed one, and he is the High Priest of our profession (3:1). A priest is one who administers a religion. The priests of the O.T. represented the people before God, offering sacrifices and praying in behalf of the people. The high priest supervised the other priests. As I have said before, it is only in this setting, i.e. applying the terms and their thinking under the old Jewish economy and utilizing and applying their terminology metaphorically to these last days in which you and I live; that this book really begins to bear down with an important message for us. Those to whom this was written, in the AD 60's, understood this metaphorical language very fittingly. You see the old priestly system, starting with Aaron, the brother of Moses, was done away in Christ. In these last days, Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God is our High Priest. Thus, Jesus, our High Priest supervises us in a similar way as the high priest of the old covenant then supervised the temple priests. We as Christians are supervised directly by the word of the Lord. His word to us is the New Testament, very much as the book of Leviticus was a manual for the priestly tribe, which were of the Levites under the old system. If Jesus is our High Priest, then metaphorically, that makes all Christians priests. This meaning is applied to Christians several times in the N.T., for example, the apostle Peter in his book refers to Christians as priests more than once and the idea is also utilized in the book of Revelation. The HEBREWS writer, in the chapters that follow, developed this idea of Jesus as our High Priest to a much higher degree. We are just here being introduced to this analogy.
But, right now, let's re-read, the' 4th section of this block and try to close out these 32 verses we've sliced off (3:1-4:13). This last section begins in 4:11 and goes down thru v.13, that's three verses. Are you ready? Let's read: Beginning in 4:11, "Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God, is powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do."
O.K., I think you can see, this is apparently a sort of general conclusion to our 32-verse block. It starts out, "Let us labor therefore." Now what does that mean? That big word, THEREFORE, means: based upon what has already been said up above, the conclusion is: that we need to work at it, i.e. "labor" is the word used in our text. Now, why should we labor? "To enter into that rest" i.e. heaven. The Christian religion is not just a drift-along religion. It's not just something that was bestowed upon us and we don't have a part in it. We do have a part in it. Peter said on Pentecost, "save yourselves from this untoward generation" (Acts 2:40), or "this perverted generation" as some others translate it. Why is it necessary to labor to enter heaven? "Lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief," i.e. as the Israelites fell in the desert...is our example. The truth was preached to them, just like us; but, it was not mixed with faith (as our writer said up in 4:2). Thus, we need to work at getting the right mixture, the right balance, of God's word and act accordingly, thus our faith must be an acting faith, you see. This brings to mind the importance of God's word, i.e. the Bible, our road map to heaven, or our priestly manual of duty (if you will). So, in v.12, the writer begins to comment upon the "word of God" which is our instruction manual left with us by our High Priest, Jesus the Christ. Now, tune-in on what our writer says about this book, the Bible. Wouldn't it be great if everyone would get this slant, this description of the book? You know and I know that most people in our society simply think of the Bible as a dry old book, written by a bunch of old foggies back in the dark ages. It's just another book they think, tossed in with tons and tons of others and placed with shelf after shelf of other books. In their thinking, the Bible is no more authoritative than any of the others. Our writer says, "the word of God is quick." Now, I hope you understand the word "quick" here means living. This book is a living book and this book is a powerful book. The power of life and death are revealed upon these pages of holy writ. The thoughts in this book are sharp; they can carve right down to where you are. It is sharper than any two-edged sword. I suppose there have been a lot of those deadly instruments called a sword in this old world in time past. This instrument has brought death to untold millions including the apostle Paul. Some of those blades must have been tremendously sharp. But, our writer says "the word of God is...sharper than any two-edged sword." There has never been a sword as sharp as this book. Someone has said that a two-edged sword cuts coming and a going. This book is sharper than a two-edged sword. In other words, a two-edged sword does not have the capability this book has. It tells us where we came from, why we are here and where we are going. This books is so sharp, so explicit it can carve into your mind a distinction between the soul and the spirit (do you see that?, v.12). Do you know the difference between the soul and the spirit? Well, that distinction is in the book. This book slices down between distinctions that are extremely hard to make. If you take a look at a bone under a microscope, there is not a good sharp distinction between the joints and the marrow, i.e. where they join together (as is indicated in the middle of v.12). These parts of a bone just sort of blend one part into the other. Thus, to pierce explicitly between the joints and the marrow would require a blade sharper than any sword known to man. However, the Bible, the word of God, can slice right down between the thought and intents of the heart (last of v.12). When you read the Bible, the Bible reads you. There are two edges to it, you see. What is the difference between thoughts and intents of the heart? You see, it is possible to understand how murder works, how it might work if you were the victim or how it would work if you were to victimize someone else. However, understanding that AND intending to do that are two different things, two different actions of the heart, i.e. of the mental processes. There is nothing sinful about understanding that process. However, the intention to murder, whether carried out or not, is sin (Matt. 5:21-22). Separating thoughts and intentions of the mental process is obviously a very precise distinction. What about looking upon a woman and lusting after a woman (Matt. 5:27)? One is a sin, the other is not. You see, in contrast to what many think of this old book, it is very precise. It's not just a bunch of contradictory stories, with a few good Sunday-school-style motivating thoughts sprinkled in between, as so many think. God's word is sharper than we are.
Then, v.13, "all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." You may hide a thought (or a intent) in your mind and no one know it but you; but, God knows it. That thought is naked and open to God. "Neither is there any creature [man or anything else] that is not manifest [i.e. made know] in his sight." You cannot hide from God. "Be sure your sins will find you out" (Num. 32:23).
Now, let's back up and put our 32 verse block together again. We broke it into four parts. The first part, v.1-6 of ch. 3, said in essence, Christ is superior to Moses. This tells us and guides us to whom we must direct our listening ear. Then v.7-19 of ch. 3, we might summarize like it this: you must take urgent action. "Take heed, brethren, lest... any of you... depart from the living God." Then in part three, (the first 10 verses of ch. 4), we must fear is the thought, i.e. we must have an alert attitude toward our spiritual needs mixed with a strong faith that guides our actions, else we could easily miss heaven, just like those Israelites that came out of Egypt missed the promised land. AND, finally then, v. 11, getting down to the bottom line, we must work at it, rightly dividing God's word, the Bible. This book can guide our every thought; scan, analyze, help us identify, correct and rectify even the very intentions of our heart. A lot is said in these 32 verses. A slant that needs to be understood by more people. They needed this admonition in the AD 60's and we still need it. It may have been written 1900 years ago; but, it is still as pertinent as this morning's newspaper. We cannot with immunity, trifle with God's word. These 32 verses verify that there is life after death. It verifies that life after death is departmentalized into heaven and hell. It certainly does not teach universal salvation. The caution and urgency employed in these verses underscores what Jesus said in Matt. 7:14, "strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth unto life [i.e. heaven], and few there be that find it."
If you are as curious as most of us are, these 32 verses probably raised more questions in your mind than it answered. Jesus made it very clear in verses like Matt. 25:46 that there is an eternal home, or rest, for God's people. When do the faithful enter into this rest? Is it at death or after the judgment? What about those of God's people who died during the O.T. period? Did they enter in at the end of that age, i.e. when Christ went back to heaven, or will we enter together? i.e. if we make it. I ask these questions to simply salt the gravy. I'm sure you will have 40 more questions on the tip of your tongue. Such questions have been debated since the time of Job, I presume. "If a man die, shall he live again?" Job asked. Yet, Job expressed hope in the very next phrase. He said, "all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come." (That's Job 14:14). Thus, you are not the first to ask these questions. That which we physically have not seen and examined makes us curious. I have never been to the grand canyon located in our western states; however, I have a pretty good concept of the place. I have seen some very awe inspiring pictures of the place. I have talked to others who explored the place to some degree. I have read some statistics about the place, its size, its depth and elevation (etc.). I believe the place is there. I am told of a place called heaven by an inspired and reputable book. Just like the canyon, I have no doubt that it's there. However, I have never talked to a person who has been to heaven. And I don't have any hope of doing so until I enter myself, if I make it. All the pictures we have are word pictures. Those word pictures are vague, general and few. Need I say, you will not find agreement even among those closest to you and among those whom you respect most for their Bible knowledge with respect to such questions. This lack of agreement, should not surprise anyone. Perhaps it is better that we accept a lack of information in this area than that we be consumed by misinformation dotted about by the misinformed. Personally, I get a little skeptical of those who have it all figured out with that big hades warehouse of the dead divided into paradise and tartarus separated by that great gulf in the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus even before the judgment. This makes very impressive funeral verbiage for those who are inclined to the flavor of philosophical amusements. Some have a little trouble stopping at the place where the facts run out and fantasies begin. I am inclined to think we should apply our brakes on the conservative side. The Bible teaches very clearly, there is a heaven and there is a hell. You CAN understand that without understanding every detail of the place. The wise emphasis in this book (and the whole Bible) is placed upon being prepared for the voyage and not the details of the place after you get there or even that soul-storage-stop-over-place called hades on the way.
However, if you like salty gravy, I would like to point out that there is a good bit of information about heaven, even here in the book of Hebrews (a little vague, yes); but, it can help shape your concept of heaven. I have some opinions and I would like to encourage you to form some opinions (here). However, I would caution you about becoming overbearingly opinionated in this area for that reason I have already expressed. Keep a good clear distinction between opinion and "the faith" that was once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). This is jumping ahead; but, Abraham had a concept of heaven. It is said over in ch. 11 (here in Heb.), Abraham "looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." His desire was: "a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God... for he hath prepared for them a city." In reference to those of O.T. times, the HEBREWS writer said in the end of ch. 11, "God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect." Does that mean we will all enter in together? Well, don't forget, God's word is sharper than a two-edged sword. It can carve between the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Thus, it is very important we get a good grip on this two-edged instrument and hold it firmly in the light and prefect view of every other passage. A two-edged sword is not be handled recklessly. It's a deadly instrument. Jesus said, "I say unto you. He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life...[he] is passed from death unto life." (John 5:24). On the other side of the coin, Paul said that one who lives in pleasure is dead while they live (I-Tim. 5:6). What if that limousine called death should back into your driveway today? Are you prepared for the voyage? David said: "Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts..." (4:7). Was David inspired? This same writer says (back in 3:7), "the Holy Ghost saith. Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts..." Does this sword slice true and consistently? Then, let me close with v.12-13 of ch. 3, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But, exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." And may I say, have a good day.