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.
I love to read, and have since I was a young boy. Starting in the 1st grade my dad would bring home once a week – usually on Fridays – comic books (Batman, Superman, Archie, etc.). He still sends a box of comic books to the house once or twice a year. He says it’s for my sons, but I must admit I still love reading them myself!
As I got older, I started reading some of his favorite books and authors – Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov.
So when I read about swords in the Bible, it definitely gets my attention.
Hebrews 4:12 is one of those attention-getters!
A quick glance at this passage might suggest that God’s Word is a sword – as it certainly is in Ephesians 6:17.
But here in Hebrews it specifically says that the word of God is “sharper than any two-edged sword.” It isn’t a sword itself but more than a sword!
It is “living and active” and basically gets to the heart of every person.
Does this mean that I should be careful with what I say and do with my Bible sitting on the desk next to me?
Well, yes and no.
The book itself doesn’t listen to me or read my mind.
But the Bible is more than just a book. It is the Word of God and, as John’s Gospel begins, the Word is the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity – Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God!
And Jesus Christ knows us intimately. As the omniscient Son of God he can look into our hearts and see it all.
This is what the writer to the Hebrews is getting at in chapter 4 of his (or her) epistle.
Nothing is hidden from God. We can hide our inner thoughts and feelings from other people – even those we love. But we cannot hide anything from God.
God’s Word opens us up before him better than any sharp sword ever could.
God sees into our hearts. He sees all our sinful thoughts, desires, intentions, and predilections.
God, through his word – the Law – brings to light our sin. It shows us our sin as a mirror bright.
Thankfully, that’s not all God’s Word does! God’s Word also brings to us God’s grace.
After God’s Word opens us up like a sword, the sweet and healing balm of the Gospel heals and revives us to the life Jesus came to give us through his death and resurrection!
Martin Luther put it this way:
“The Word is so effective that whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used it is bound never to be without fruit [the topic of a future devotion, by the way!]. It always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts. For these words are not lazy or dead, but are creative, living words. And even though no other interest or necessity moves us, this truth ought to urge everyone to the Word, because thereby the devil is put to flight and driven away” (Large Catechism, Part I. The Ten Commandments, quoted from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, copyright © 2005, 2006 by Concordia Publishing House, p 370).
This is, indeed, good news! Let’s share this with everyone today!
Blessed Lord, since You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
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