(For the sermon that this is an excerpt from, go here.)
God has spoken so well in Christ that even the silence around his word is eloquent, informative, communicative.
We can learn from that silence in many ways, but here is one way: Because of what God has definitively said, we know there are certain other things that God will not say, will never say, cannot say. Here are a few things God will never say.
“I decided not to keep my promise; something else came up.”
“I was just kidding.”
“It’s just sin, no big deal. Never mind.”
“I can’t handle your stuff.”
“I can’t forgive you.”
“Don’t bother coming to Jesus, he is not able to save you.”
“I will leave you and I will forsake you.”
Remember that the main event in Hebrews is what’s coming in chapters 9 and 10, when the priest enters the holy place and takes the decisive action. What we’re rehearsing in chapter 7 is just more or less the job description for that priest. Chapter by chapter, Hebrews will put in place the priest, the sanctuary, its furniture, and then once everything’s in place, we’ll get the sacrifice of atonement. Wait for it!
But if we skip ahead over that main section, we can find the last thing God has to say. In this book we overheard the Father speaking to the Son. We heard God speak salvation by Jesus. We heard Jesus say “I’m not ashamed to call these people my brothers.” We have our ears tuned to hear God’s voice now. So what’s the last thing we heard God say in Hebrews? Look at chapter 13, verse 5: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Now that’s an OT quote, but where’s it from? It sounds like what God says to Solomon when Solomon takes over from David 1 Chronicles 28:20. But it also sounds like what God says to Joshua when Joshua takes over from Moses in Josh 1:5. But it also sounds like what God says to Jacob in a dream in Gen 28:15. So who’s he talking to?
In his Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament, Wesley says that God speaks this assurance “to all believers, in saying it to Jacob, Joshua, and Solomon.”
And then Hebrews gives us the script for what can say back to God: “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear. What can man do to me?” No wonder the old hymn, “How Firm a Foundation,” asks the rhetorical question, “what more can he say than to you he hath said, to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?”
Let’s close in prayer:
God teach us to hear you; to hear your holy voice in your perfect word. Train our senses. Bring us into the intimacy that hears everything you say: every word, every hint, every shade of meaning, every emphasis, every whisper, every pause, every silence. Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O Lord. And teach us to accept and approve the words of your mouth, and the meditations of your heart.