Let us make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account. (Hebrews 4: 11-13)
God is inescapable! Does that terrify you?
God’s word, God’s eyes are all around us; He is nearer to us than our breath! Did your mother frighten you as a little child with these words, ‘God is watching you!’? What a cruel thing to do to a child – treating God as though He were some great big celestial policeman who is waiting to pounce on any little kid who puts a foot wrong!
David was also aware of the inescapable God who knew where he was, what he did, where he went, and even what he was going to think before he thought it, but he was not afraid. On the contrary, it made him feel very safe because he knew that God’s nearness and His scrutiny were to bless and protect, not to judge and destroy.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. (Psa. 139: 9-10)
He welcomed and invited God’s all-seeing eye to search and test him because he wanted to stay on God’s path where he would walk in safety and reach his desired destination.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psa. 139: 23-24)
God’s word is like a mirror. When we look into it, is reveals both what we are really like and what we should be. Mirrors don’t lie. They reflect back exactly what we are. Every time God spoke and His people disobeyed and rebelled, their hearts were exposed. Like a surgeon’s scalpel, His word opened up their innermost being and showed them what was in their hearts.
Take Peter, for example. Jesus warned him that he was heading for a crash. He failed to heed His warning and fell headlong into the pit he had dug for himself by refusing to listen. What was the outcome? Did Jesus discard him as useless and worthless? Was He out to ‘get’ Peter because He knew how cocksure Peter was of himself?
No, His intention was to reveal Peter’s heart to Peter’s head, so that he would be aware of his weakness and rest in Jesus’s strength in him. That’s what the scrutiny of God’s word is all about – not to catch us out so that we can get the punishment we deserve for our foolish independence but to make us aware of the flaws in us so that we can throw ourselves on the mercy and grace of God.
Paul had his own experience of weakness. He called it ‘a thorn in the flesh’. It was so invasive that he pleaded with God to remove it. Every time he encountered hardships and persecution, he reacted. The way people treated him pricked him, exposing what was inside his heart. He begged God to put down His ‘sword’ because he didn’t like what he felt. God said, ‘No, Paul, you need the sword because it is exposing what is in you. I won’t remove the sword but I will give strength to keep going.’
Paul’s experience of God’s s’word’ revealed his weakness and right there, in his weakest spot, God provided strength to endure, but not only just to hang on with white-knuckled stickability – but to rejoice because he knew what grace was and how it worked for him.
If only the Israelites had had the maturity to realise what God was doing. Unlike the gods they insisted on worshipping, He was out to refine and purify their trust in Him so that, when the real fight was on in the land of Canaan where there were giants and walled cities, taking over would be a piece of cake.
What is God’s sword about? Not to cut us open so that the world can see all the foul stuff that is inside us? No! To show us what’s there; unbelief, disobedience, rebellion, suspicion, mistrust, fear, anger, guilt, shame, hatred, bitterness, offences and an endless list of imperfections that obscure our view of God’s love. God is passionate about setting us free from all these things so that we can live in His presence without shame or fear and enjoy Him forever.
Don’t fear the sword. Welcome it because it is a surgical knife which cuts with precision to remove the ‘cancer’ that will destroy your life.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.