Hebrews 4: 12 – 13
The Israelites were God’s children whom He had planned to save from the clutches of slavery in Egypt; they had gotten so used to the bondage they were subjected to, that they must have thought nothing could provide for a better life than being Pharaoh’s slave. Life couldn’t have been better for them as that mindset must have accepted. It gives a picture of adapting to the present situation and challenges and never having the inclination that life could be a lot better. At one point or the other, we’ve all formed various mindsets because of the issues and challenges we have faced or are facing in life. But they were wrong in many of their postulations because God had a better plan for them looking at the promise He gave to Abraham in Genesis 15.
We are faced with a people who witnessed the power of God, a people that knew that God was taking them from where they were to where He wants them to be. This was part of the will of God not that they did anything to that effect. They were meant to journey towards the Promised Land earmarked for them. God took them by the wilderness and through the Red Sea; they witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, which was a sign for us about the fact that we would only be saved by the blood of Jesus. It is the same blood of Jesus that saved the people of God that will judge people who are not His people, looking at how the Egyptians perished in the sea.
We are also faced with a people who were told to put blood on the lintels and the side posts of their homes because the Angel of Death was going to pass bye. The idea was that when the Angel comes and sees the blood, the Angel will pass over the houses with blood thereby saving the people in the house even if there were Egyptians in the houses. This was God’s way of making us in this generation know how we can ONLY be saved: by the shed blood of Jesus. So the writer of the Epistle was right when He said, “unto us was the Gospel preached as well as unto them.”
These people (Israelites) had left Egypt and were on their way to the Promised Land in accordance to the Will and purpose of God. They were told about a Land that flowed with milk and honey but because of the challenges they were faced with, they started to throw tantrums not only against Moses but also against God. The writer’s idea was that at times when they had challenges, such times were called the days of TEMPTATION; and besides they were in the WILDERNESS. Being in the wilderness sometimes is no reason to throw tantrums against God because we cannot be sure if that WILDERNESS period is part of God’s plan for us.
In that WILDERNESS, all His children could do was to PROVE that God was indeed who He declared Himself to be. They used the yardstick of God meeting their needs as a sign that He is God; the moment He does not meet their expectations, He wasn’t God to them. They said things like, “if God were really God, why are we suffering in the wilderness.” The idea was that the Israelites were busy looking for ways to getting out of their troubles. They completely forgot that the moment one challenge goes, another one surfaces. Man will always be in need whether we like it or not and God help us that we don’t spend the rest of our lives predominantly trying to solve problems when we can focus on God and His ways.
In the Church today, just like the Israelites, our vision is to get out of the challenges we are in; our hope is to make sure “bad things” don’t happen to us; we fast, we pray, we keep night vigils and the many rituals we go through and little do we know that we are just consumed with self and indirectly using God to meet our needs. The moment our expectations are not met, we murmur or think that there is something else we need to do in order for God to meet our desires and lusts. In the New Testament Church of today, that’s our way of murmuring against God.
Our Church’s are advertised as problem solving centers, prayer centers and the many adverts we brand them with. Once you can locate your problems/challenges, you look for the “right” church to attend not to go and worship God, but we have come to see and attend the church because we need solutions to our problems. As needy beings, we would never stop having needs and the more we realize that, the more we want to use God for our needs and inadvertently the pure worship of God disappears into thin air.
God was provoked by His children because they never wanted Him; they only wanted what He had to give them. Their minds were never kept on God not even to passionately want to know His ways. The psalmist stressed that God made His ways known to Moses and His acts to the children of Israel. Many today want the acts and never want to know His ways; we want the blessings and never the one that blesses unknowingly. These people never knew or tried to discover the purpose and plan of God for them but were overwhelmed with what they wanted; they had become self-centered and selfish.
God therefore knowing their thoughts, motives and where they headed for, God swore that the generation would never enter into His REST (Promised Land). He knew the end even before the beginning. The reason why this writer in the fourth chapter of the book of Hebrews described God and His Word as quick (living), powerful (energetically efficacious) and sharper than any two-edged sword. It is able to differentiate between the soul and the spirit. The Word reaches the most intimate and accurate knowledge of man’s hidden parts, feelings and thoughts, distinguishing what is spiritual from what is carnal.
The writer went on to clarify that God (through His Word) is capable of judging the purposes, intents, and conceptions that we conceive in our minds or the feelings we have. Therefore, God knew that these people will never seek Him neither will they worship Him. Their problem was all rooted in UNBELIEF or DISOBEDIENCE towards the Gospel. He had no choice but to drop their carcasses in the wilderness. Beyond their bodies perishing in the wilderness, their SOULS never made it into that Promised Land.
To his audience, the writer re-iterated that God is still the same; He has not changed. If He did that to their Fathers in the wilderness, He was ready to do the same to those who will harden their hearts to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. God means what He says, what He says goes. His powerful Word is as sharp as a surgeons scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and to obey.
Nothing and no one is impervious to God and His Word…we can’t get away from it because all things lie open and exposed before Him with whom we have to reckon. I can only imagine what was going through the minds of his (the writer’s) audience especially those that heard the Gospel and had not made any commitment because they were no different from those who had not heard and were not saved.
Even if a man had no other sin whatsoever, it is quite sufficient to condemn him forever; that he neglects his God and turns away from his Savior; for unbelief is an act of high treason against the divine majesty, plucking at the crown jewel of Jehovah’s truthfulness – C.H Spurgeon.