Hebrews 3:7-19

So, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
    during the time of testing in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested and tried me,
    though for forty years they saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation;
    I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
    and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ 
12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”
16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

Trust and Obedience

So far, the author of Hebrews has pointed us to Jesus. He has proved the supremacy of Jesus above angels, Moses and all the prophets. He has made the case that Jesus is our great high priest, fully God and fully man, come to save.

What do we do when we recognize such truth? What is our response when we realize the Creator of the ends of the earth has come in human form to make a relationship with God a possibility? The author of Hebrews follows that complete trust and complete obedience must be given to him.

He quotes Psalm 95:7-11 which takes us back to the Old Testament to the time when the Israelites were in the wilderness after God had rescued and delivered them from Egypt. In Exodus 17:1-7, the Israelites had come to a place where there was no water to drink. What’s heartbreaking about this story, is that this was not the first instance recorded since they left Egypt where they found themselves without food or drink. God had, before their very eyes, turned bitter water into sweet water to drink. He had also provided manna and quail for them. By the time we get to Exodus 17, you would expect them to remember God’s miracles and faithfulness from the previous episodes, but instead, they grumble and complain.

God did the miraculous and again provided water. This time he brought it forth from a rock! But that place was named Massah and Meribah which means “testing” and “quarreling” because of the Israelites’ disobedience and unbelief. This is what the author refers to as “the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness.”  Their unbelief was flat out rebellion.

This causes me to pause and do a serious check in my heart. While I have not considered myself a rebellious person outwardly, are there places of unbelief in my heart that would be considered rebellious by this passage’s definition? Yes. Every place where I have not trusted God, or doubted what he has declared in his Word, is a place of rebellion.  The Israelites did not believe the Word of the Lord to them. This was rebellion. This was the same kind of rebellion we see in the Garden of Eden. Satan tempted Eve with the words, “Did God really SAY…?” At the heart of the fall was a disbelief in what God had spoken as truth. The minute Eve doubted God’s Word, she was in rebellion and that led to disobedience.

Trust and obedience go hand in hand. When we trust what God says to be true, we will then follow in obedience. If I trust that the Lord is good and that he works all things together for good, I will then be able to obey what he asks of me even when I don’t see the good or see him at work.

The distrust and disobedience kept the Israelites from the blessings of God they might have enjoyed. The writer of Hebrews is warning his audience to be careful, lest we too show the same disobedience and distrust.

God makes us all this offer. He offered the promised land to the Israelites and he offers the blessings of eternal life to us now. But to obtain these blessings two things are necessary:

  1. Trust: We must believe that what God has said is true. We must be willing to stake our lives on his promises.
  2. Obedience:It is just as if a doctor were to say to us: “I can cure you if you obey my instructions implicitly.” It is just as if a teacher were to say: “I can make you a scholar if you follow my curriculum with absolute fidelity.” It is just as if a trainer were to say to an athlete: “I can make you a champion if you do not deviate from the discipline that I lay down.” In any realm of live, success depends on obedience to the word of the expert. God, if we may put it so, is the expert in life and real happiness depends on obedience to him.” -William Barclay