I was suggesting last week that the Bible is not written from an alien, different world, but addresses the world we live in. But there is something that stands as a divide between us and the Bible; something that prevents us from grasping hold of the Scriptures and applying them rightly to our lives.
It’s there in Hebrews 3 and 4, that majestic passage about the piercing clarity and contemporaneity of God’s Word. The problem for the author of Hebrews is not that the word of God is somehow closed off to his readers, or shrouded by the mists of time or culture.
The problem they face is far more severe and insidious. It’s the problem that Israel succumbed to in the desert, and because of which they failed to enter God’s rest. It’s the problem that the first century readers of Hebrews faced, and that we face to the same extent today.
The problem is the deadening effect of unbelief and sin. “Take care, brothers”, says the author of Hebrews, “lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today’, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13).
There is a an interplay here between unbelief (that is, a lack of trust in God’s Word) and sin (rebellion against God and his Word) and hard-heartedness (the stubborn, irrational ignoring of God and his Word).