Word for Today Archive

Pastoral Commentary for Hebrews 3
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie

Creators for the Creator

(For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Hebrews 3:4

I watched a video yesterday on wealth creation. It described how wealth can be created out of nothing. When someone has an idea, then takes that idea and turns it into reality, the real object, invention or improved product becomes something that someone else sees as valuable. The creator can then sell that object to the person who values it and consequently increase his or her wealth.

Where did the wealth come from? From the person who bought the object? Not really. The money would have never changed hands without the idea that was conceived in the creator's mind. The idea is that which created the wealth to begin with. Or is it?

Where did the idea come from? From the mind that conceived it? Certainly that is the case, but where did the mind itself come from, or the ability of that mind to create something new out of nothing? It came from God. The reason we are creative people who are able to conceive of something new, something that no one has ever thought of before, is because we are created in the image of God.

God Himself is the ultimate Creator. Just as every house must have a builder, so everything in all of creation must have a Builder too. That Builder is God, and when God graciously created us to be like Him so that we could have fellowship with Him, He became the ultimate Originator of every idea that has ever been conceived. Thus, God is the Builder of everything. Not just the trees and flowers and animals and people that are a part of nature. But even the cars, houses, office buildings, computers and cell phones that we use every day. Because if God had not made us in His image, if He had not made us creative like Him, we would be like the animals who cannot conceive of a doggie door, or a kittie litter box, or a hamster ball or the anything else that is not "natural."

We honor people who create something new with wealth for their useful inventions. But even more, we should honor God for everything that exists, even the things we invent. Because God is the Builder of everything.

Pastoral Commentary for Hebrews 3
Author: Pastor Zach

Little Johnny was not happy. Before every recess, his teacher, Mrs. Smith, would ask for a volunteer to be the line leader to guide the cavalcade of students from their classroom to the playground. And before every recess, little Johnny would always wildly flail his arm in the air, begging to be chosen as the line leader. But on this day, like on so many others, Johnny was passed over. Instead, Mrs. Smith chose Suzy. And Johnny could not contain his incredulity. " But Suzy always gets to be the line leader!" Johnny protested.

Suzy does not always get to be the line leader, no matter what Johnny may say. Other students, including Johnny, get to be line leaders as well. Johnny, however, decided to employ some hyperbole to protest the inequity he perceived in the line leading system.

We all make hyperbolic statements from time to time. If our stomach is growling, we may say, "I'm so hungry, I could eat a horse." Or, if rush hour traffic is especially slow one afternoon, we may announce to our family when we finally arrive at the front door, "It took forever to get home." Then, of course, there is this classic hyperbolic chiding of hyperbole: "I've told you a million times not to exaggerate!"

In our reading for today from Hebrews 3, the speaker warns his hearers about the dangers of falling away from faith in Christ. And to issue his warning, he quotes Psalm 95:

Today, if you hear God's voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, "Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways." (verses 7-10)

"Human hearts are always going astray," God says. Notably, the original Hebrew text of this Psalm does not include the word "always." Instead, it reads, "They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways" (Psalm 95:10). But the author of Hebrews does not quote the Hebrew text of this Psalm. Instead, he quotes a second century BC Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint which does indeed include the word "always." But human hearts can't always be straying from God. Surely this is a bit of hyperbole.

Sadly, it's not. Rather, it's a tragically precise diagnosis of the human condition. For humans, as sinners, are not and cannot be completely devoted to God. This does not mean that a person cannot trust in God for salvation and walk with him closely. It simply means that a human's heart will always be tempted and tugged by the wily ways of Satan. Martin Luther explains aptly:

The human will is placed between [God and Satan] like a beast of burden. If God rides it, it wills and goes where God wills... If Satan rides it, it wills and goes where Satan wills; nor can it choose to run to either of the two riders or to seek him out, but the riders themselves contend for the possession and control of it. (AE 33:III)

The human heart is tempted and tugged by Satan - always. For Satan and God are always contending for human souls.

Thankfully, the "always" of our sinful hearts is not the only "always" of Scripture. There is another "always," which Paul so beautifully lays before us in 2 Corinthians 4:10: "We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." We not only always carry around a sinful heart, we also always carry around the death of Christ, which is the salvation of our souls. And the "always" of Christ's perfect death always conquers the "always" of our sinful hearts. And that's no hyperbole. Praise be to God.

Read Today's Scripture and Commentary on the Concordia website.

2020-05-29 15:46:19