“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV).
I’ve always viewed verse 16, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need”, as a stand alone verse. I have often found great comfort there when life isn’t going as smoothly, perhaps, as I would like. But when I take a step back and look at the verse from a new perspective, I see that it really has nothing to do with life’s troubles and inconveniences.
That’s not to say that my alternate view of the verse is wrong, though. For I sincerely believe in God’s great grace and mercy, and that when we are suffering in the multiple and varied storms of life He wants us to draw near to Him confidently to find that grace and mercy. That is a part of who He is, and the relationship He desires to have with us.
Instead, looking at this verse in context, I find even more comfort in it! When I look back on my life, and some of the storms that have beaten and battered my spiritual house, I find that it’s the struggles with sin that have taken the most profound toll on me. More than sickness or loss, more than relationship difficulties or financial woes, coming to grips with the sins that so easily beset me (Hebrews 12:1) and striving for victory against them has been the greatest challenge of my life.
Hard times come and go, but as long as we are alive, who we are remains. We manage, somehow, to get through the difficulties that we encounter, but that sin nature lingers. There are always the temptations, small or great, that seem to pop up at just the wrong time, but wrong time or not we are required to deal with them.
Jesus understands our struggle. He faced temptation at every turn; yet He never gave in. His divinity made Him uniquely able to show us mercy and grace; His humanity made Him uniquely able to give us “help in time of need”.
One of the great methods of Bible study is to allow scripture to interpret itself; finding other verses that relate to the verse you are studying (all in context, of course) and using them to understand your verse can be a tremendous help in understanding scripture.
Our scripture for the day is, contextually, about temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (ESV). I believe that one of our escapes is Hebrews 4:14-16.
When we transport ourselves to the “throne of grace” we are positioning ourselves with our faces to God. I think it is important to imagine ourselves there, confidently standing before our Lord, seeking His mercy and grace while we deal with the temptations. I like to think of it in this manner: we will always be facing something; we choose whether it will be temptation or the throne of grace.