New Life Bible Fellowship Church
- How Great Thou Art
- Praise Him Praise Him
- IntroductionThus far in our exposition of the book of Hebrews we have seen Jesus, eternally begotten of the Father, made for a time lower then the angels to fulfill his apostleship and High Priestly duties and was again exalted with the glory he so rightly deserved. And we’ve seen that this appointment by the Father was greater then Moses’ appointment who was a servant and prophet of God, and as a result, Jesus is deserving of greater glory then Moses.We are also given a warning (2:1-3) to not neglect so great a salvation but, as we saw last week, we are to hold fast our confidence and our boasting that comes from our hope in the finished work of Jesus Christ, the builder of the house of God. But what happens if we do neglect this great salvation, or fail to hold fast to our hope? This question introduces our text for this morning as we are called to learn from Israel’s past and are given an exhortation to not imitate past unbelievers. This warning is among several warnings posted throughout the book of Hebrews (6:4-8; 10:26-31; 12:25-29) that declare to us the eternal devastating consequences of unbelief.Text: Hebrews 3:7-197 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. 10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ 11 As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’ ” 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 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. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” 16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.Main Idea: Because God has revealed himself in so many extraordinary ways, we as his covenant people must never engage in unbelief.Therefore (7)- ties verse 6 to this section by contrasting those who hold fast to our hope with confidence and boasting, with those who have hearts are hardened.Note also that there is a past, present, and future aspect contained within these verses. Let’s begin with the past...I. Warning Against Hardened Hearts: A lesson From Israel’s Past Unbelief (7-11)Note: Paul uses this same example and warning in I Cor 10:4-5.A. It is possible to take part but not be a part of God’s covenant community (7-9)Note in verse 7 that the writer of Hebrews says, as the Holy Spirit says, which is a reference to scripture, and in this case, it is found in Psalm 95:7-117 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, 9 when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. 10 For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.” 11 Therefore I swore in my wrath, “They shall not enter my rest.”This Psalm references the rebellion of the people of Israel in Exodus 17:1-71 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”Let’s understand the context of this rebellion:The Israelites had seen the miracles God performed against Egypt, in the ten plagues, that brought about the exodus from Egypt.They had witnessed the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red sea, in which they themselves had walked through on dry land.They had seen bitter water made sweet at Marah when they were thirsty and could not drink the water.They had experiences God’s provision of manna to fed them miraculously as they journeyed.It is in this context that Israel rebelled at the next sign of hardship.B. A continuous straying heart reveals an unchanged heart (10-11)we see here that God is provoked (incited to anger) by two things (10):always go astray (planao [pre, pas, ind]) - to be deceived, or become misled ) in their heart, because,they have not known (ginosko - know experientially) my (God’s) waysthey shall not enter my rest - The result of a continuous straying heart is eternal judgement (11)This idea of rest as it is used in this verse, and for a total of 10x in Hebrews alone, is always synonymous with being in the presence of God as we see in this familiar verse in Matthew...28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.In the book of Revelation, we see the contrast between those who are unbelievers and those who are believers with regard to rest...11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”But what should we learn form Israel’s past? How do we know who are those from within our covenant community that are taking part in but are not a part of this community? I believe we do this with what the writer of Hebrews calls…exhortation...II. Exhortation Against Unbelief: Our Responsibility In the Present To One Another (12-15)Our response here in the present is given by two imperatives…the first...A. Be Watchful (12)Take care (blepo [pre, act, imp] - be vigilant, be on the lookout) brothers - note that this command is to be carried out from within the covenant community (lest there be any of you), and is to be done carefully, as one who is alert to danger. We are to look for an...evil, unbelieving heart - signs of unbelief.leading you to fall away (aphistemi - to abandon; distance oneself from) - an evil unbelieving heart is a sign of apostacy.What do we do when we find these signs?B. Urgently Confront (13)The conjunction but, shows that we are not to allow it to continue...exhort (parakaleo [pre, act, imp] - to urge, implore, plead) one another - we are called to plead with one another, calling them down off the ledge of unbelief. This will differentiate between momentary times of unbelief and a life characterized by unbelief.every day, as long as it is called “today” - we see an urgency and diligence about our exhortation, not wanting them to remain in unbelief.that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin - this urgency is spurred on by what we know about sin, it is deceitful and brings about a hard heart the longer it continues.C. Partner Together (14)With these two commands carried out, we will partner together in weeding out unbelievers and strengthen our own faith in God’s work.For - gives further explanation about why this works...it is because those who respond to such exhortation reveal that they are partners with us and have come to share in Christ, and hold our original confidence form to the end.Why we are so urgent about this is because there is coming an eternal consequence for a life of unbelief.III. Exposure Of the Apostates: They Will Not Enter the Future Rest (16-19)The writer of Hebrews begins this section with a reminder by the use of the conjunction For, to give us further explanation about who these apostates were, where they came from, and what would be their destiny.A. Those who saw and heard God’s revelation (16-17)These are not pagans who never heard or knew of God’s wondrous works, but instead they were:those who left Egypt led by Moses (16)those who provoked God for forty years (17)those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness (17)Note that the greater the revelation, the greater the responsibility to respond, and the greater the judgement for unbelief.B. Those who’s destiny is God’s judgement (18-19)Note the devastating consequence to their unbelief resulting in disobedience...he (God) did swear that they would not enter his rest (18)When God swears, he does so using himself as the highest immutable law in which his very character is called into account for keeping his oath. In other words, what he swears must come to pass because of God’s eternal, unchangeable essence!This is so because they were unable to enter because of unbelief (19)What this means is that the exposure of Israel’s apostacy was met with God’s sworn judgement of them not entering the immediate rest of the land of Canaan.However, this has a farther reaching principle that reaches beyond the present into the future, and is for all those who have experienced the presence and blessings of God but have turned away in unbelief. They will not enter God’s rest…they will not spend eternity in heaven with him!So What?Have you been a part of God’s covenant community and seen the power of God at work but at the first sign of trials you cower in unbelief, and even renounce your faith in him?Are you able to receive exhortation from your fellow brothers and sisters and desire to grow as a result?
- Glorify Thy Name