The Hands of the Living God

judge_4421cDo you think of God as a heavenly grandfather figure? Hebrews 10:26-31 shows you the danger of that way of thinking.

Do not fall into the hands of the living God. Do not persist in sin. This is a deliberate, persistent sin, v.26. Distinguish this from acts of sin. In Hebrews 6:4-6 the author warns that if there is not diligence in progressing, falling and apostasy follow. Here, if there is lukewarmness in Christian fellowship, apostasy may follow. Neglecting the assembling together (v.25) can be part of a deliberate separation from the body of Christ. Do not trample the Son of God underfoot. Vast privileges have been yours. You have known the truth, v. 26. You have known the Son of God and the blood of the covenant, v. 29. Those who persist in rejecting Christ, those who seem to have a relationship with him, yet drift away, these trample him under foot. This is a denial of the sanctifying blood of the covenant. This is not a denial of the perseverance of the saints, but it is a severe warning to those who have been joined in covenantal fellowship with God. This is an insult to the Spirit of grace, similar to blasphemy against the Spirit, see Matthew 12:31. “It is He [the Spirit of grace] who enlightens our minds with faith, who seals in our hearts the adoption of God, who regenerates us to newness of life, and who grafts us into the body of Christ so that He lives in us and we in Him.. The Spirit of grace is rightly so called because through Him Christ with all His benefits becomes ours.” (John Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews).

God’s judgment will certainly come. Only judgment is left, vv.26b, 27. The apostate perish, not because the sacrifice of Christ is defective, but because, hardened in apostasy, they will have nothing to do with Christ. There remains only anticipation of certain judgment, which judgment is more sever than its anticipation. Apostasy, in the form of idolatry, was punishable by death in the old covenant, upon the testimony of two or three witnesses, Deuteronomy 17:2-7. Vengeance belongs to God, v. 30. Both quotes are from the Song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32:35,36, a clearly covenantal document. It contains both assurance of blessing and threats of judgment. Understand the holiness of God, not just as an abstract doctrine, but as a vital characteristic of the God you serve. Edward’s sermon, “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God” was instrumental in the Great Awakening in North Hampton. God is the living God. The idols cannot help or punish their worshipers. God is alive, and he is a jealous God. God can punish, not only in this life, but for eternity, Matthew 10:28. Flee from sin! Beware of drifting away from God!

Do not, through the sin of apostasy, fall into the hands of the living God. Yet, in sense it is always true that you are in the hands of the living God. Flee God’s judgment. To be in God’s hands means certain judgment for the apostate. “Mortal man, however inimical he may be, cannot carry his enmity beyond death, but the power of God is not confined to such narrow limits. We often escape from men, we cannot escape the judgment of God.” (John Calvin, Commentary on Hebrews). Since God is alive, there is no escape from him. All sin comes under his condemnation. This warning is given to the church. This passage is addressed to “brothers,” vv. 19, 39. This text warns you to persevere, to guard against falling way, against getting comfortable with sin.

Rest in the hands of the living God. Beware of a one-dimensional view of God. The living God has provided atonement for your sins. He cannot simply ignore sin. He sent Christ to be the redeemer, and he accepted his sacrifice. He has blotted out your sin, v.17. Only the living God can actually save. You are of those who believe and are saved. Hebrews does not want to induce a spiritual paranoia in his hearers. The original readers were God’s people, and are addressed as the elect, see Hebrews 10:19,32,39; 6:9. They, like you, depended, not on themselves, but on the perfect high priest, Jesus Christ. The fruit of his work was visible in their lives, vv. 32-34. “. . . Hebrews’ warnings challenge any form of complacency. The author’s purpose is to rekindle the members’ commitment. The last thing he wants to do is to coddle them in a false sense of security. So, in order to achieve the desired effect, the writer chose an approach that allowed him to address the community as fellow believers (6:9), while holding up the perplexing possibility of not finishing the course. . . . In the final analysis the author does not pretend to be able to look into the readers’ hearts. . . .” (Martin Emmrich, Pneumatalogical Concepts in Hebrews, p. 103). Hebrews is calling you to trust in the Savior.

If you reject that Savior, if you bluntly or incrementally, reject him, nothing can save you from the hands of the living God. But if you trust in him, you find that the hands of the living God are the hands that are scarred by the nails of the cross. Those hands protect you, care for you, and sustain you in all circumstances.

About jwm

I serve as pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Newberg, Oregon.

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