Hebrews 3: 7 – 12
To the Hebrew group in his audience, those who had not committed to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, the writer of Hebrews offers a strong warning to commit before something erratic and unexpected happens to them all. They knew and were convinced about the content of the message but because of the pressure of losing their friends and credibility, and perhaps of being ostracized, they procrastinated or refused to be committed to Jesus and the Will of God. So the writer uses the word “TODAY” which refers to a particular period, not necessarily twenty-four hours but a time of opportunity when a very important decision has to be made.
He warned them of a particular voice being heard – the voice of God. This is that time when there is an opportunity to hear the Gospel being preached or declared by the one that is sent, the Preacher or anyone that proclaims the message of the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Today we can hear the voice of God when the message of the Gospel is being disclosed or proclaimed by His servants. As you read the contents of this article, you are exposed to the message of the Gospel, which is God’s voice and it is required of you to respond positively, not because of the one proclaiming but because of the message proclaimed.
When you refuse to respond positively to the message of the Gospel, the Bible describes that act as a hardening of the heart and further compares you to the children of Israel in the days of Moses. The Israelites saw and experienced what happened when Pharaoh refused to respond to the message Moses brought from God. They saw the ten plagues from God and how the last plague became the back-breaker: the first born of the Egyptians died and Pharaoh literarily begged them to leave his country. They were eyewitnesses to the mighty strong hand of God when Pharaoh quickly got over his fear of God and asked his soldiers to follow after the Israelites with the intention of bringing them back to Egypt, and how God made His people walk on dry land by splitting the Red Sea.
The Israelites found themselves in the wilderness totally and completely catered for, they saw “manna” drop from Heaven when they hungered and were led in the day by the pillar of cloud and in the night by the pillar of fire; and readily one would suspect that all their trust would be on the One who brought them out from Egypt with a strong hand; one would expect absolute trust in the God of wonders but the contrary was the case. The person of God was revealed to them, they knew Him by what they saw, evidence after evidence; they heard His voice in today’s language but never believed instead they chose to deliberately provoke Him.
Apostle Paul coins the same words like this, “but God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of His divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in His hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.”
The resultant effect of this act by the Israelites (hardening their hearts) was that they began to wander in the wilderness until all the unappreciative, untrusting, unbelieving and unthankful generation died without entering into the Promised Land. This is because when they wanted water (the day of trial) they could not trust the same God who had given them His best (taking them out of slavery) for the rest of their journey. So the reason for their unbelief was because they faced a challenge in the wilderness but were quick to forget the things that God had done; they forgot that it was God who started the journey and they could not trust Him to finish the same.
This inspired writer did not concoct this from his mind rather he went back to quote from the scriptures as a warning to his audience in case they decide not to commit to God. Like the Israelites, he warned his audience that the same would happen to them if they decide not to commit to the One being disclosed in the message of the Gospel. They wandered in the barren, desolate and oppressive land because of their UNBELIEF. Many have not believed today because they feel they need more proof; the Church is falling for this and it’s no wonder why they try to seek to give more proof to the people not knowing that miracles, signs and wonder is no guarantee that people will trust or continue to trust in God. What they are not seeing is that unspoken statement when the miracles don’t happen that “God is no longer who He is” and by this the people remain where they were – in the state of unbelief.
God was very angry (vexed, incensed) with that generation because they refused to trust Him. God knew and said about the fact that the Israelite generation would always go astray. Therefore, He precluded and repudiated them – He said, “They shall not enter into my rest”. This was very obvious when twelve men were sent to spy out the Promised Land and because of unbelief, majority of them were not able to enter into that land. There was a particular generation that entered into the Promised Land; they entered because they believed and trusted in the God of their fathers, the One who brought them out of Egypt.
By this, the audience would come to understand that the writer is bringing their attention (using the history of Israel and their escapades with God) to the point that they can learn from history and turn their hearts towards God and not follow after the example of unbelief as displayed by Israel. The voice they heard then was the voice of God through His servant Moses; the moment the Jews read this epistle, they heard the voice of the Holy Spirit through the writer and at the moment this article is being read, you are hearing the voice of God through the writer and what you can do is not HARDEN YOUR HEARTS but respond positively to the message being proclaimed (The message of the Gospel).
When we don’t yield to the message of the Gospel and turn away from it, we don’t turn away from religion or religious settings, we actually turn away from God and life in general not entering into that Promised Land already purposed and predetermined by God. The Promised Land in the days of Israel is the same as entering into God’s rest when we yield to the message of the Gospel positively. Unbelief on the other side of the divide leaves us wandering in the wilderness of life plagued with desolation, barrenness and oppression.
“So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us” – Apostle Paul (The real One).