Sunday, October 27, 2013
Hebrews Chapter Three Part 3
3:7-11 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
This passage is quoted from Psalm 95:7-11, and was written in reference to the rebellion of Israel in the desert. Led by Moses, the infant nation became afraid of the denizens of Canaan when they spied out the land. Despite God assuring them that He would give them victory over the people of Canaan the Israelites rebelled and tried to appoint a new leader to bring them back to Egypt. The men of war who rebelled would all die over the next forty years since they did not trust in God or His word that He would do what He said He would for them. Their hearts became hard through the deceitfulness of sin, Hebrews 3:13.
This passage is brought to light because the Christians being written to were beginning to lose their faith in the sufficiency of Jesus Christ and the salvation He purchased for us on the cross. Israel suffered forty years of defeat and discipline for their faithless lives. When, in faith, they followed Joshua over the River Jordan and partook in the conquest of Canaan they entered into God’s rest. They had rest from their enemies on every side BECAUSE they were now at peace with their God. Jesus makes the same offer (presently) to each of us; it is not in reference to a heavenly departure upon our death but a present rest we may each enjoy by walking as a yoke partner with our Lord. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls,” Matthew 11:28-29. The rest that generation of Israel disdained and missed was the opportunity to enter into God’s will and experience joy, victory, and peace through Him. There would still be trials, but God stated numerous times “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5. So too does it go with those who believe today. We will all experience trials. We may either draw close to God and allow Him to provide the strength for both endurance and victory, or we can harden our hearts and turn God into an enemy. If so, rest assured that we shall never enter the rest God wishes us to have.
These Hebrew Christians, like their ancestors, were beginning to place their faith somewhere other than where God commanded it to be: namely in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. History was going to be repeated, and as the saying goes: those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. The writer brings forth this passage in Psalm 95 as a refresher in the nation’s history to remind these believers that God does not bless backsliders or faithless saints. He can’t; we forbid it through our utter lack of faith. Jesus always told His disciples that what bound His hands was the lack of faith in people. Everyone wants to be believed on their word, especially if there is no good reason to do otherwise. God is no different. Several times Jesus asked people “do you believe I can do this?” before He heals them. Their response in the affirmative (sometimes coupled with deeds that demonstrated their faith) always yielded amazing results. Or perhaps they were simply the natural results of a God capable of the impossible. He can do anything, save for that which we forbid Him to do through unbelief. God wants all saints to enter into His rest, because only then have we truly entered into His service.