Help in Our Time of Need
A number of years ago, the band Rend Collective wrote a song that to this day, literally gives me all the feels. In the few minutes that this song plays, I cry, I feel overcome with a sense of victory, my spirit leaps for joy as it hears truth, I get butterflies of excitement, I overflow with love for God, and… it leaves me trying to figure out how a complete stranger could so perfectly capture in words my heart’s desire for the Lord. Something I could never put into words myself.
By grace alone somehow I stand
Where even angels fear to tread
Invited by redeeming love
Before the throne of God above
He pulls me close with nail-scarred hands
Into His everlasting arms
When condemnation grips my heart
And Satan tempts me to despair
I hear the voice that scatters fear
The Great I Am the Lord is here
Oh praise the One who fights for me
And shields my soul eternally
Boldly I approach Your throne
Blameless now I'm running home
By Your blood I come
Welcomed as Your own
Into the arms of majesty
I hear the voice that scatters fear!? The Great I Am the Lord is here!? He shields my soul eternally!? Blameless now I’m running home!? I mean, are you kidding me?! This song makes me weep. And it’s impossible for me to hear it and not be reminded of Hebrews 4 where we read,
Therefore let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need. Hebrews 4:16
I love this verse because it succinctly gives a crystal clear picture of what to do when we need the kind of help that only God can provide. In fact, it lays out the complete picture of who, what, where, when, and how.
While we’re going to be looking specifically at verse 16 of Hebrews chapter 4, revisiting the entire chapter is a good place for us to begin in terms of knowing who this chapter is speaking to.
Throughout the verses, we discover that it’s speaking to those who have heard the Good News and profited from it because the hearing of the Word was met with their faith. It’s to those who, because of their belief, have entered into rest through obedience and have not hardened their hearts. It’s to those whose high priest is Jesus, the Son of God, who was tempted yet did not sin. This means it was written to the saints. It was written for us!
The what of Hebrews 4:16 is that we’re being given an invitation to “draw near”. We’ll look in a minute at why we’re being invited to “draw near”, but first let’s dive into the multifaceted meaning of this invitation.
The word “draw near” in Greek is proserchomai (Strongs G4334), and it means I come up to, to visit, to consent to; clearly implying that this invitation is a choice we make and is dependent on our own initiative.
Upon a deeper dive into this word, we discover that it comes from the root word pros (Strongs G431) which naturally suggests the cycle of initiation and response. Isn’t that incredible?! This invitation comes fully loaded with a promise: If you choose to accept the invitation to draw near, you can fully expect a response in return. More on that as we continue!
Ok, so now that we know what it means to “draw near", where are we being invited to “draw near” to? Where is this place where we can expect to receive a response?
Brace yourself, cause this is pretty incredible and exceptionally humbling. Hebrews 4:16 is an invitation to us to come to the very throne of God. Yes, you and I are invited to His throne of grace. Wow.
“Throne” is the Greek word thronos (Strongs G2362), and it denotes power and dominion, it’s a seat for a king. And the “grace” that we’re being invited to find there is, in my opinion, a lot deeper than the common definitions we might be familiar with for this word because as we’re about to discover, God’s grace, like His love, is not something He does, but rather, something He is, and therefore, something He can’t not be.
Charis is the Greek word for “grace” (Strongs G5485), and while it means a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ, favor, and kindness, it more completely includes these two incredible facets:
- God freely extends to give Himself away to people because He is always leaning toward them.
- This word for grace, answers directly to the Old Testament Hebrew term, kaná (Strongs H2580) which refers to God freely extending Himself (His favor, grace), reaching (inclining) to people because He is disposed to bless (be near) them.
Did you know that God is inclined to be near to you? That when you go to Him, He’s already leaning toward you, just waiting to bless you. This definition encourages us to picture our Heavenly Father on the edge of His seat anticipating our arrival. It makes me want to cry at the thought, overwhelmed by His love.
All that we’ve just learned will likely invoke different emotions in each of us as to how we might imagine we would feel approaching God’s throne. Perhaps hesitantly, perhaps with our eyes to the ground, perhaps apprehensively… But we’re actually clearly told in Hebrews 4:16 how we are to go about accepting this beautiful invitation. We are to draw near to the throne of grace “with confidence”.
“Confidence”, or boldness as some translations state, comes from the Greek word parresia (Strongs G3954) meaning: freedom and openness, but especially, and specifically, freedom and openness in regards to speech. In fact, the very definition of this word is freedom of speech.
You are being invited to speak freely, unreservedly, to your God who is leaning toward you, inclined to freely extend Himself to you while you talk with Him. There is nothing you have to hold back from Him, no “right” words or “wrong” words, there is just you being welcomed to bare your heart freely to your Father.
As we dive into the why of Hebrews 4:16, it circles us back to the what of Hebrews 4:16. We learned earlier that the root word of “draw near” suggested a cycle of initiation and response; an invitation with a promise. And the promise is revealed to us when we dive into the whole point of this verse, the why of Hebrews 4:16.
We are promised that when we confidently draw near to our God, who is seated on His throne of grace, we will receive mercy and find grace to help in our times of need.
So let’s break this down:
“Receive” comes from the Greek word lambano (Strongs G2983) meaning to lay hold of. Further to that, just so there’s no confusion that this kind of receiving is perhaps simply something that gets handed to us unknowingly, we’re told it means to lay hold by aggressively and actively accepting what is available and being offered. The meaning of this word tells us we’re to accept with initiative, with emphasis on the assertiveness of us, the receiver. There is nothing passive about this receiving. We choose it, we aggressively lay hold of it, and we expectantly accept it from our Father, the giver.
And what will we be receiving from Him? We’re told that in addition to His grace, He is promising us that we will receive His mercy.
“Mercy” comes from the Greek word eleos (Strongs G1656), meaning pity or compassion. But to better understand the complexity of this word, we need to include the meaning of the Hebrew word it was translated from, checed (Strongs H2617), which speaks to "covenant-loyalty, covenant-love”, used by the way, in the Septuagint over 170 times! The mercy God is promising us we will find when we speak freely with Him refers to His mercy as it is defined by loyalty to His own covenant. And we know He is loyal to His word and that He will be everything He has told us He is.
As Hebrews 4:16 closes, we are told that God promised us that we will receive His grace and mercy when we need help, which tells us exactly the state one might find themselves in when they will need to run to His throne in the first place.
“Help” in this verse is boetheia (Strongs G996) and it means a brand of help, especially critical assistance that meets an urgent situation (delivering very needed aid). And I don’t know about you, but I’ve certainly been there! I have, on more than one occasion, needed this exact kind of help. And more beautifully, God anticipates us needing His urgent and critical aid. And therefore, we never need to feel ashamed for needing this kind of help from God because He is already freely extending Himself to give away all that He is to His children because He is always leaning towards them.
You can rest assured, that wherever you might find yourself, whatever you might have done, or had done to you, that your Heavenly Father is on your side. When you are in need of His help He invites you to draw near to Him and speak freely to Him from your heart, promising that when you do, He will meet you, and leaning towards you, He will pour out upon you every holy, good, complete part of Himself.
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13
Podcast episode 40 - Occupy Until I Come
Exclusive resource in The Rooted Truth Collective:
Mini topical audio Bible study - What Does the Bible Say About Grace?
Bible Study - The Covenants Study