Hope from Hebrews #6 - A Warning from the Wilderness
Text: Hebrews 3:7-19
Thesis: To stress the necessity of guarding one’s heart from apostasy.
(1) Ever since the beginning of time, man has always needed to guard his heart from slipping away from God.
(2) In this text, the author will stress this need by offering up an example of failure and then listing ways to prevent a similar failure.
I. An Example of Hearts becoming Hardened (vv. 7-11):
A. ‘Therefore’ is used to remind Christians that they “are God’s house, if only they hold fast, if they do not prove faithless as Israel did in the past” (Lightfoot 89).
B. ‘Holy Spirit’ is used as opposed to ‘David’ in order to stress the divine origin of the message.
C. ‘Today’ implies that “at no point does Scripture become outdated and irrelevant” (Kistemaker 91).
D. The author quotes from Psalm 95:7-11, which “every Jew knew […] because its opening line served as a call to worship every Sabbath evening in the synagogue” (Hughes 1:98).
1. The two specific events that would come immediately to mind would be Exodus 17 (i.e., Israel’s being camped at Rephidim by Mount Sinai and quarreling with Moses because they had run out of water) and Numbers 20 (i.e., Israel’s being camped at Kadesh and again quarreling with Moses because they had again run out of water). [Note: The Hebrew text of Psalm 95 includes ‘Massah’ (i.e., testing) and Meribah (i.e., quarreling]
2. Also, the ‘apex of this hard-heartedness’ would clearly be the events recorded in Numbers 13-14 with the 12 spies.
3. However, the overall point is that “all through the desert wanderings of forty years the people persisted in their stubborn ways” (Lightfoot 90).
4. Because of their hard-heartedness, they (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb) did not enter into the rest (i.e., Canaan’s land).
5. Note: “Not recognizing the ways of God meant that Moses’ generation did not grasp either the favor that God had shown them or the consequences of rebelling against Him” (Koester 256).
II. Suggestions to Avoid Hearts from becoming Hardened (vv. 12-19):
A. First, Christians must protect their own hearts (v. 12).
1. “ ‘Unbelief’ is not a deficiency of faith but a deliberate refusal to believe” (LWC).
2. “In a number of languages turn away may be rendered ‘to turn one's back on’ or ‘to reject,’ or possibly ‘to refuse to follow’” (UBS Handbook Series).
B. Second, Christians must help each other protect their hearts (v. 13).
1. ‘Exhort’ (Gr. parakaleo) means “to urge strongly” (BDAG).
2. “ ‘Daily’ means that encouragement should be habitual” (EBC).
C. Third, Christians must persevere in protecting their hearts (vv. 14-15).
1. ‘Hold’ (Gr. katacho) means “to adhere firmly” (BDAG).
2. “The ‘first confidence’ here is not ‘the beginning of our confidence’ but the ‘basis of our confidence’; the ‘basis of our confidence’ is Christ” (LWC).
3. ‘To the end’ “may point to the end of the age or the end of the believer's life” (EBC).
D. Fourth, Christians must be aware of the ‘red flags’ of hard-heartedness (vv. 16-19).
1. Those whose hearts became hardened all first followed Moses with great expectations of what was to come in Canaan’s land.
2. However, their hope seen became disbelief.
3. Then, as a result of their disbelief they disobeyed God and missed Canaan’s land.
(1) If this could happen to Israel, then it could happen to Christians.
(2) However, do not allow yourself to become another causality.