7782 - Warning Against Hardness


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Today we check out the second warning for believers in the book of Hebrews. Listen to Hebrews 3:7-9:

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 desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did.

The book of Hebrews has many backward glances about events which affected Israel in their early years. Today’s passage refers back to an experience which the Israelites faced after they ended 430 years of slavery in Egypt, and were on their trip to Canaan.

The Israelites had evidenced stubbornness and unbelief many times as they journeyed toward Canaan. Often Moses fell on his face before God pleading for forgiveness for the people.

When they reached the Desert of Paran, the Lord instructed Moses to send men to explore the land of Canaan. A man from each of the twelve tribes of Israel was chosen, and instructed to go and see what the land was like. They were also to take notice of the people, and the towns in which they lived, the land, crops and fruit of the land.

The twelve made their trip and at the end of forty days returned with a report. (Num. 13,14).

Before all the people they showed samples of the fruit of the land, which flowed with milk and honey.

But then they said that the people were powerful and the cities were fortified and very large. Even giants live there.

At that point two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, gave an admonition that they should go and take over the land.

But the other ten spies were very negative and gave a bad report, seeking to convince the people that they could not take the land.

Throughout that night all the people grumbled against Moses and said: “If only we had died in the desert!”

Joshua and Caleb said to all the people: “The land is good. If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land and give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord; and do not be afraid of the people of the land. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us.”

But the whole assembly talked about stoning Joshua and Caleb.

Then the Lord God said to Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me?” God was ready to destroy these people because of their unbelief.

Moses talked with God and eventually God reached a decision. I will do to all these men in camp who are twenty years old or older, just as I heard them say. In this desert their bodies will fall. Only Caleb and Joshua will live to enter the land, along with the children. For forty years — one year for each of the forty days you explored the land, you will suffer for your sins; and you will know what it is like to have me against you. Your bodies will fall in this desert. Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the desert.

This is the incident in history about which God makes reference here in Hebrews.

He is saying to those who were to read this letter, “do not harden your hearts with unbelief as did the Israelites who went through this ordeal in the desert. Do not rebel as they did, and then suffered the consequences.”

This experience of history occurred about 1500 years previous to the writting of this letter. It is to those who would read this letter that the warning is given. The nature of God has not changed. He continues to be a loving God, but his justice demands that disobedience be punished.

May we never harden our hearts against God. May we always be loving of God. May we be obedient to his instructions in his Word. May we not disregard his rules and desires.

If we do, as a nation, or as an individual, we could be called to give account even as these men of Israel were. It is a serious thing to rebel against God.