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Hebrews 4:14-16

03.25.2011

Whether you call it a life verse or a heart verse or a comfort verse or something altogether more normal, Heb 4:16 is my go-to verse.  It builds on the groundwork laid thus far in the book, specifically on Jesus’ stature above Moses and His ability to relate to our temptations, and calls us to come to God for mercy and grace.  Some points on v. 16:

  • Seeing as how I have more invested in this verse, I thought I’d do an even deeper dive, so I did some sentence diagramming.  One thing that jumped out at me is that the core of the sentence is a command to an implied ‘you’:  ‘Let us draw near.’  Now, it’s true we use this in the form of ‘let’s’ all the time (Let’s go.  Let’s eat.  Let’s build duelling robot battle monkeys.*)  But I think there’s more to it in this case.  The implied ‘you’ is the same group of people as the ‘us,’ so I think he’s essentially saying, ‘Allow yourself to draw near.’  With sins forgiven by the risen Christ, the only thing keeping us from fellowship with Him is ourselves, our own refusal.  It’s like Exodus, but we’re both the Hebrews and the Pharaoh.  We’re free to leave the prison of slavery to sin, but we can’t let our own hardened hearts prevent us from seeking God’s grace and mercy.
  • There’s a tense issue going on in this verse as well.  The first part is in the present tense: ‘Let us [now] draw near.’  The second part is in the future tense: ‘That we may receive…in time of need.’  We do not approach the throne of grace periodically as needed.  We are exhorted to draw near now so that mercy and grace will be with us when we do need them.†  This implies, therefore, that the Christian life will still have times where we need God’s mercy and grace, either from our own misdeeds or from external trials, but that we can be confident in the shelter of God’s protection.
  • Lastly, one of the reasons this verse sticks with me is the striking image of a humble sinner boldly approaching this vast, heavenly throne.  I can imagine myself standing in front of God with nowhere to hide (and much that I’d want to), but confident that I am welcome and beckoned to approach and find peace in His arms.

————

* Yep.  All the time.

† An argument against inclusivist ideas of universal salvation?  Perchance!

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