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Hebrews 7:20-25 – NT

06.08.2011

Romans 8:31-35

This is an interesting passage because it makes a complex promise to believers: we will be protected through (not from) trials and suffering.  Most of us, when we ask God for protection or grace or mercy, we think in terms of being spared the experience of trial.  We want God to remove the cup from us, as it were.  God promises to protect us, but not from the trial itself.  He promises to keep us from being spiritually damaged by the trials we face, to protect our souls through the privations of life in a fallen world.

I remember when I was working in international development, I’d prepare overseas development workers  with, among other things, a section on managing risk.  We divided the team into groups, and each group was given a risk specific to their destination: snakes, assault, disease, etc.  We asked each team to think of how to manage their given risk in a two-fold fashion: (1) how to reduce the likelihood of the negative event occurring, and (2) how to reduce the impact of the event should it occur.  For the first they’d talk about being observant and diligent for threats, and for the second they’d talk about having emergency equipment close and contact information for those in their communities that could help them.

This is kind of how I see this Romans passage splitting up.  God is not promising to prevent the negative events from occurring; He doesn’t promise to manage the risk that we should meet trials.  Rather, He promises to keep the negative event from irreparably impacting us spiritually, to manage the risk that our souls face in undergoing earthly trials.

Specifically, for the purposes of our Hebrews passage, I want to zero in on v. 34.  Here we see Jesus described as sitting at God’s right hand interceding for us.  The ESV defines ‘interceding’ as an effective intervention, and this is a parallel with the promise we read earlier in 4:14-16: we have a high priest who can sympathize with us through experience but has an unprecedented place of honor with the Father and the power to use that sympathy for our benefit, which He did on the cross.

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