Hebrews Chapter 3
Hebrews 3:1 (Weymouth) Therefore, holy brethren, sharers with others in a heavenly invitation, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest whose followers we profess to be.
IN THE preceding chapter Paul emphasizes that the true disciples of Jesus are also his “brethren” (Heb. 2:11,12), and that the Master is not ashamed to consider them such. In this chapter he reveals that these brethren are ‘holy’ in the Lord’s sight, and that they are partakers of ‘the heavenly calling.’ (vs. 1) There is a wonderful depth of Christian love and understanding manifested in this statement. These Hebrew Christians were far from being in a spiritually-healthy condition, as we shall see later in the 5th chapter; but, nevertheless, Paul still looked upon them as being ‘holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling.’
The reference to Jesus as the ‘Apostle’ reminds us that he was the One whom the Heavenly Father sent into the world to be the Redeemer and Savior; the word means ‘one who is sent.’ We are to ‘consider’ Jesus, that is, to ponder over his glorious qualities, for he was the One specially set apart and ‘sent’ by Jehovah to be the “messenger of the covenant” (Mal. 3:1), the One who was to reveal the love and saving power of God both to the church and to the world. To the Hebrew brethren, and to the whole church, he is the High Priest of our profession. This is an important thought to keep in mind in order properly to understand the Book of Hebrews; the church, the ‘brethren’ of Christ, are members of a priestly order, not merely those who receive blessings through a priesthood.
The word ‘profession’ in this text is from a Greek word meaning ‘common speech,’ or profession. As underpriests, the consecrated followers of Christ during the present Gospel Age have a common share with Jesus in the work of the priesthood, being ministers “of reconciliation” with him, through the use of the “word of reconciliation.” (II Cor 5:18-19) As his ambassadors, these Christians speak only the things which he gives them to say.
Philippians 3:14 Weymouth with my eyes fixed on the goal I push on to secure the prize of God's heavenward call in Christ Jesus.
Fix your thoughts--Consider that God loves you so much He sent the ultimate Messenger, Christ Jesus. Consider also how important it is for you to pay attention to God’s ultimate Apostle, Christ Jesus.
Heavenly Invitation or calling: There is no other call now. There is only the one hope of our calling. God does not any the less love all, but He is NOW interested in ONLY ONE THING: “Behold I and the children God has given me.” (2:13)
Do you often think about the “heavenly calling or invitation”?
Do you want to be in heaven with God and Jesus?
Does your life reflect that desire? Or are you very comfortable down here?
Do you truly listen to the words of Jesus? Or do you just hear them?
Hebrews 3:2 (Weymouth) How faithful He was to Him who appointed Him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house!
A leading object of this Epistle was to preserve those whom he had addressed from falling away from God amidst the temptations and trials to which they were exposed. In doing this, what could be a more powerful argument than to direct their attention to the unwavering constancy and fidelity of the Lord Jesus? The “importance” of such a virtue in the Savior is manifest. It is seen everywhere; and all the great interests of the world depend on it.
Faithfulness is one of the very important qualifications of a messenger, or representative, for otherwise he could not be trusted. The Heavenly Father could rely upon Jesus to be faithful to the trust committed to him. The expression ‘appointed him,’ should read, “made him.” This could refer to his being made the High Priest, a man, or possibly it refers to his original creation. In any case, Jehovah God knew that he could trust His beloved Son.
Moses was a type of Christ, and Moses was faithful over his house. The passage referred to is in Num_12:7 and which seems not so much to intend the fidelity of Moses in managing the affairs of God's house, as the largeness of the trust reposed in him, the dignity and honor conferred on him, and the power and authority he was invested with, in having the whole house of Israel committed to his care and charge, in which he exceeded all other prophets; and so the faithfulness of Christ is not so much to be understood of the discharge of his trust, as of the trust itself; and the sense is, that he was trusted much by God the Father, who constituted him Mediator, even as Moses was; and this sense best agrees with Heb_3:5.
What has God entrusted you with?
Are you being faithful with what God has put in your care?
Hebrews 3:3 (Weymouth) For Jesus has been counted worthy of greater glory than Moses, in so far as he who has built a house has higher honour than the house itself.
Hebrews 3:4 (Weymouth) For every house has had a builder, and the builder of all things is God.
We have already seen that the apostle’s design is to prove that Jesus Christ is higher than the angels, higher than Moses, and higher than Aaron. That he is higher than the angels has been already proved; that he is higher than Moses he is now proving.
There can be no doubt that a man who builds a house for his own accommodation is more honorable than the house itself; but the house here intended is the Church of God. This Church, here called a house or family, is built by Christ; he is the Head, Governor, Soul and Life of it; he must therefore be greater than Moses, who was only a member and officer in that Church, who never put a stone in this spiritual building but was even himself put in it by the great Architect. Moses was in this house, and faithful in this house; but the house was the house of God, and builded and governed by Christ.
When we get to thinking we are something, we need to remember where we are in relation to Jesus.
Hebrews 3:5 (MKJV) And Moses truly was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken afterward.
The Greek word here translated ‘servant’ does not denote a slave, but merely one who is subservient to another in the sense of having a lower office. Moses was a highly honored servant, and was faithful in all his house ‘for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after.’ The thought clearly is that the house of servants under Moses, and all which pertained to it, was designed by God to be a testimony, or a setting forth by types, of things which would take place later on a higher and grander scale—“a shadow of good things to come.” (Heb. 10:1) This includes the Tabernacle and its services, which the apostle explains later in the Book of Hebrews, and accounts for the exactness with which Moses was required to carry out the details of construction given to him: “See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.”—Exod. 25:40; Heb. 8:5
The faithfulness of Moses consisted in his scrupulous attention to every ordinance of God; his framing everything according to the pattern showed him by the Lord; and his referring all to that Christ of whom he spoke as the prophet who should come after him, and should be raised up from among themselves; whom they should attentively hear and obey, on pain of being cut off from being the people of the Lord. Hence our Lord told the Jews, Joh_5:46 : If ye had believed Moses, ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me; “namely;” “in the figures, but especially in the prophecies, of the law, where the Gospel dispensation, the coming of its Author, and his character as Messiah, are all described with a precision which adds the greatest lustre of evidence to Jesus and to his Gospel.”
We have a better promise than Moses did (Heb 11)—should we not have more a zeal to being faithful with what he have than Moses did?
Hebrews 3:6 (Weymouth) but Christ was faithful as a Son having authority over God's house, and we are that house, if we hold firm to the End the boldness and the hope which we boast of as ours.
None could be of the house of sons until Jesus sacrifice had been presented to the Father and accepted by him. The harvest of the Jewish age and preparatory work for the Gospel age, opened the new dispensation; and all Jews or Gentiles who received Christ, were accepted as members of the new house of sons, which took the place of the old house of servants. As sons, it is all the more necessary that we learn the lessons of obedience to the Father. More is to be expected of a son in his father's service. He requires more training and discipline.
Jesus is heir, not a hired servant, of God’s house as was Moses. Because he is heir, he is not “in” (as Moses in verse 5), but “OVER” God’s house.
‘Whose house are we.’ Paul and his Hebrew readers, and eventually the whole church, are included in the pronoun ‘we.’ But we can be a part of the house of sons only on condition that we ‘hold fast’ our ‘confidence’ ‘firm unto the end.’ Evidently the Hebrew brethren, to whom this epistle was written, were having difficulties along this line, for the admonition to steadfastness and to holding fast recurs time and again. Letting these things slip through lack of confidence and rejoicing might well be the besetting sin mentioned later in Chapter 12, verse 1. This is a sin which easily besets all of the Lord’s people. We can well take to heart the warning that only if we actually ‘hold fast’ can we hope to continue as members of the house of sons.
In the Greek text, the thought is that we exult in our hope; we rejoice in our hope; that is, we anticipate its realization with pleasure. Let us not permit this hope to become dim by giving too much attention to the world, or to anything which will alienate our affections from the Lord and from his service. There can be no halfheartedness on the part of those who hope to make their calling and election sure to a place in the glorified house of sons.
Do you understand the privilege and responsibility of your position in Christ?
Are you holding firm?
Hebrews 3:7 (Weymouth) For this reason--as the Holy Spirit warns us, "TO-DAY, IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
Here the apostle proceeds in pressing upon them serious counsels and cautions to the close of the chapter; and he recites a passage out of Psa_95:7, etc., where observe,
What he counsels them to do - to give a speedy and present attention to the call of Christ. “Hear his voice, assent to, approve of, and consider, what God in Christ speaks unto you; apply it to yourselves with suitable affections and endeavors, and set about it this very day.” Now; at present. At the very time when the command is addressed to you. It is not to be put off until tomorrow. All God’s commands relate to “the present” - to this day - to the passing moment. He gives us no commands “about the future.” He does not require us to repent and to turn to him “tomorrow,” or 10 years hence.
The voice of God speaking to us:
(1) In his written word;
(2) In the preached gospel;
(3) In our own consciences;
(4) In the events of his Providence;
(5) In the admonitions of our relatives and friends. Whatever conveys to us the truth of God, or is adapted to impress that on us, may be regarded as “his voice” speaking to us. He thus speaks to us “every day” in some of these ways; and every day, therefore, he may entreat us not to harden our hearts.
Are you listening for the voice of God?
Are you hearing the voice of God?
Are you obeying the voice of God?
Hebrews 3:8 (Weymouth) DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS YOUR FOREFATHERS DID IN THE TIME OF THE PROVOCATION ON THE DAY OF THE TEMPTATION IN THE DESERT,
Hebrews 3:9 (Weymouth) WHERE YOUR FOREFATHERS SO SORELY TRIED MY PATIENCE AND SAW ALL THAT I DID DURING FORTY YEARS.
If those who followed Moses were responsible to surrender, trust and persevere in following God’s leader, how much more are we responsible to do the same with a greater leader, Jesus?
The idea here is, that a refusal to listen to the voice of God is connected with a hardening of the heart. It is in two ways:
(1) The very refusal to do this tends to harden it. And,
(2) How do we ‘harden’ our hearts? By failure to appreciate God’s goodness as manifested in his providential leading and care, and by resisting His will as revealed to us through His Word. Every making of an excuse for our lack of obedience renders our spiritual perception more dull, and we become correspondingly less responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. In the case of the Jews, because of their continued hardness of heart, no matter how many times the Lord reproved them, or how richly He blessed them, by their continued waywardness and disobedience they provoked the Lord; so their wilderness experience was to Him a day of “provocation.”
For the Israelites it was a “day of temptation.” (Ps. 95:8) There were ten special trials which the Lord permitted to come upon them. These are referred to in Exodus 5:21; 14:11; 15:24; 16:2; 17:2,3; 32:1; Numbers 11:1,4 (twice); 12:1; and 14:2. Each of these circumstances constituted a test of faith for the Israelites—tests in which they failed. But as the Lord, on each occasion, delivered them from the situation which caused them to complain, they should have learned to put their trust more fully in him, but they did not.
Because of their unbelief, the people of Israel faced judgment which culminated after forty years. This warning in Hebrews was written about forty years after the Jews’ initial rejection of Jesus. God’s wrath was quickly coming upon the Jews who rejected Jesus, and would culminate with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem.
Can our hearts be hardened when we resist hearing what other brethren might have to say? (Especially when the thought is different from our own)
If we are shown pretty clearly a Truth from the Word, do we harden ourselves against it because of 1) fear of what others might think? 2) because we will have to rethink some other conclusions? 3) because we just don’t want to change?
Is your heart hardened?
If it is what are you going to do about it?
Hebrews 3:10 (Weymouth) THEREFORE I WAS GREATLY GRIEVED WITH THAT GENERATION, AND I SAID, 'THEY ARE EVER GOING ASTRAY IN HEART, AND HAVE NOT LEARNT TO KNOW MY PATHS.'
The disobedience of the Israelites in the wilderness was of the heart. They could have been excused at first because of their lack of faith, but as time after time the Lord demonstrated his love for them and his power to deliver them, they should have learned to put their trust in Him. But they did not, for the reason that they did not want to. They had a disposition of rebellion against their God. ‘They do alway err in their heart.’ Not knowing can be changed. Not learning is inexcusable.
Because of this, and not because of inherited weakness, the Lord was ‘grieved,’ and in His ‘wrath’ He ‘sware,’ or definitely determined that all the males of the nation who were numbered and were of responsible age would not be permitted to enter into the Promised Land, with the exception of Caleb and Joshua and the tribe of Levi. Nor could they enter into God’s rest to enjoy peace of mind and soul, based on full confidence in Jehovah’s care for them.
The word “know” is often used in the Scriptures in the sense of “approving,” or “loving;” see Mat_7:23.
Deuteronomy 31:27-29 KJV For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death? 28 Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them. 29 For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.
Are you on the right path?
Do you have problems straying from the right path?
How do you feel about God’s paths?
Hebrews 3:11 (Weymouth) AS I SWORE IN MY ANGER, THEY SHALL NOT BE ADMITTED TO MY REST" –
Psalms 95:10-11 GNB For forty years I was disgusted with those people. I said, 'How disloyal they are! They refuse to obey my commands.' 11 I was angry and made a solemn promise: 'You will never enter the land where I would have given you rest.' "
The REST for Israel is shown in Deuteronomy 12:7-10. It was to be the promised land. However, the same lack of confidence they had in the wilderness followed them into the land so that it also proved for them to be no rest. (See Deuteronomy 28:58-66.) Joshua and Caleb, however, were men of faith. They experienced rest of soul both in the wilderness and in the land.
It is likely, however, in the larger sense, that this oath of God was one to exclude Israel from entering the “rest” which comes from being part of the high calling. The Law was a teacher to lead them to Messiah; but the nation failed to be led there and never entered that rest either.
It is interesting to note HOW God rested on the 7th creative day. He did so by handing the administration of that day into the hands of His Son. God thus rested, knowing that Jesus would complete the work and hand it back to God at the close of the Millennium. Thus, in essence, when God says “Enter my rest,” He is admonishing that we, too, trust Jesus as he completes the work. Israel could not accept Jesus and, therefore, could not enter the same rest that God entered.
Is disobedience or indifference to God’s paths keeping you from His rest now?
Do you believe this disobedience or indifference to God’s paths will keep you from the final rest—our Promised Land—Heaven?
What are you doing about it?
Hebrews 3:12 Weymouth see to it, brethren, that there is never in any one of you--as perhaps there may be--a sinful and unbelieving heart, manifesting itself in revolt from the ever-living God.
In these verses Paul begins the application to us of the lessons of Psalm 95. In verses 12-15 he says, in essence,
Don’t have hardened hearts like Israel. Build the hearts in each other during this wonderful, limited-time calling. That is the only way we can hold the faith with which we began; and holding it is the essence of success. Again: Don’t test God as Israel did!
In verses 15-19, Paul recites Israel’s failings for our benefit. Reading these verses QUICKLY helps to get the spirit of Paul’s preaching here. The questions in these verses are rhetorical, ending with the ALL-IMPORTANT conclusion: UNBELIEF (lack of faith) is the culprit!
We should examine our own hearts carefully; but it is often difficult to see our own defects, so we need Divine help in scrutinizing ourselves. How appropriate is the prayer of the psalmist: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”—Ps. 139:23,24
Those who have unbelieving hearts not only rob themselves of the peace and joy they might otherwise have, but they send out an evil, hurtful influence to those around them. How important that we take heed to our hearts. To do this we will need to give close attention to the instructions of the Lord, and not permit ourselves to be subject to outside influences, nor listen to other voices than that of the Lord.
Hebrews 3:13 (Weymouth) On the contrary encourage one another, day after day, so long as To-day lasts, so that not one of you may be hardened through the deceitful character of sin.
With this word Paul sets up a solution: Avoid verse 12 by practicing verse 13.
This supposes a state of chose Church fellowship, without which they could not have had access to each other.
The Greek word here translated ‘exhort’ (In the King James) is similar to the one which is translated ‘Comforter’ when this name is given to the Holy Spirit. It means to strengthen together, and thus to comfort one another. This is one of the blessed privileges of each member of the New Creation. May we all be faithful in our endeavors to strengthen and encourage our brethren.
We are to continue exhorting the brethren to faithfulness while it is called ‘today’; that is, throughout the Gospel Age, the period in the Divine plan when the ‘heavenly calling’ is operative. It is especially urgent that we continue faithfully to exhort one another, for soon the door to the heavenly calling will be closed, and the Gospel Age ended.
There is always a danger that our hearts become hardened by ‘the deceitfulness of sin.’ The ways of error and sin are almost always made to appear very bright and worthwhile. Satan, therefore, will deceive and delude, as many as are not taking heed. Everything which is out of harmony with God and with righteousness is a delusion. If we permit our hearts to be drawn away by such influences, and hardened toward the Lord and toward His people, we will ultimately experience the loss of everything, including life itself.
Are you trying to encourage your brethren every day?
Are you trying to encourage your brethren whom you might have problems with? Are you at least praying for them?
If you are slack in this area—what are you going to do about it?
If a brother or sister invites you to do something with them—do you decline because you don’t want to do it—or do you say yes and do it because your brother or sister could use the fellowship and help (and you don’t really have a good excuse not to do it)?
Hebrews 3:14 (BBE) For if we keep the substance of the faith which we had at the start, even till the end, we have a part with Christ;
(ERV) We have the honor of sharing in all that Christ has if we continue until the end to have the sure faith we had in the beginning.
(GW) After all, we will remain Christ's partners only if we continue to hold on to our original confidence until the end.
This text states definitely that the only ones who actually partake of Christ are those who hold the beginning of their confidence “firm unto the end.” (Heb. 3:6) Jesus said, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13) In Revelation 2:10 we read, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” The ‘beginning’ of our confidence is a reference to that fresh vitality, the eager interest, and that all-absorbing determination which was ours when we were first convinced of the truth of the Gospel and of the heavenly calling, and decided that we would give our all to the Lord in full consecration to do His will.
Paul seemed apprehensive lest the Hebrew brethren might already have lost a measure of their first-love zeal and confidence. Later in Chapter 10 he writes to them saying, “Call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” (Heb. 10:32) In Chapter 6:11, complimenting them on their love and zeal, he added, “We desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end.”
The cumulative nature of good meditations (Psalm 19:7-14) is what the true church must develop. The cumulative nature of ignoring weaknesses is what hardened Israel. Thus he will now (in the following verses) show how Israel’s good beginning DID NOT continue:
Has your faith waned in the time you have been in the Lord?
What can you do to rekindle that faith you once had?
Hebrews 3:15 Weymouth seeing that the warning still comes to us, "TO-DAY, IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS YOUR FOREFATHERS DID IN THE TIME OF THE PROVOCATION."
This whole verse, a repetition of verses 7 and 8, is put here to say: Throughout this age and your lives in it, HOLD FAST the faith which brought you to saying “yes” to His calling. KNOW and AVOID what Israel did that made them lose faith.
What is the condition of your heart?
Hebrews 3:16 Weymouth For who were they that heard, and yet provoked God? Was it not the whole of the people who had come out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses?
Unbelief is a serious thing in the sight of God, for it places a barrier between Him and those upon whom He would graciously bestow His blessings. Abraham became the friend of God upon the basis of his faith, or belief. This thought of friendship in relation to faith helps us to appreciate more fully just why faith is so important to God. Even in our relationships with one another there could be no friendship except upon the basis of faith, or confidence. There can be no friendship among nations except as they have faith or confidence in one another. So it is in our relationship to God. If we wish to enjoy the blessings which He is so willing to bestow abundantly upon His friends, we must have confidence in Him.
The unbelief of the Israelites was their great sin in the ‘day of provocation.’ In that day when they provoked the Lord they did not have confidence in Him, and because of their unbelief, rebelled against His providence. Their sin was the greater because it continued after they had been given many demonstrations of God’s good will toward them, and of His ability to care for them, for then it became willful. They hardened their hearts, with the result that they lost everything so far as God’s blessings at that time were concerned. The ‘rest of faith,’ which God had provided was lost. They did not enter the Promised Land. Their carcasses fell in the wilderness.
To help us remember what to avoid, Paul supplies a list of rhetorical questions. We almost can hear him preaching with each sentence proclaiming, “JUST WHO did this…?”
He answers himself to make a point: All who came out died in the wilderness (save Joshua and Caleb). And they did this DESPITE the faithful leadership of Moses! Paul clearly wants us to see how perverse our natures are. Even with the BEST of leadership, an entire generation can lose faith and destroy itself.
Do you think you can ride on the coattails of another?
Are your actions provoking God?
Are you listening to what God is saying?
Hebrews 3:17 (CEV) Who were the people that made God angry for forty years? Weren't they the ones that sinned and died in the desert?
(ERV) And who was God angry with for 40 years? He was angry with those who sinned. And their dead bodies were left in the desert.
They had sinned in various ways - by rebellion, murmuring, unbelief. As God was angry with them for their sins, we have the same reason to apprehend that He will be angry with us if we sin; and we should, therefore, be on our guard against that unbelief which would lead us to depart from Him; Heb_3:12.
Whose carcasses fell (In the KJV) ... - Num_14:29. That is, they all died, and were left on the sands of the desert. The whole generation was strewed along in the way to Canaan. All of those who had seen the wonders that God had done “in the land of Ham;” who had been rescued in so remarkable a manner from oppression, were thus cut down, and died in the deserts through which they were passing; Num_26:64-65. Such an example of the effects of revolt against God, and of unbelief, was well suited to admonish Christians in the time of the apostle, and is suited to admonish us now, of the danger of the sin of unbelief.
They were “God’s Chosen People” and they did not get a free pass to live in sin—Do you think we, as God’s Chosen people, of the Gospel Age get a free pass to live in sin and unbelief, just because we have accepted Christ?
What is our punishment for failure to obey God like the Israelites did who were escaped out of Egypt?
Hebrews 3:18 (ERV) And which people was God talking to when he promised that they would never enter his place of rest? He was talking to those who did not obey him.
Paul makes wonderful learning observations. Israel did not fail because God left them! He didn’t. Even though He was angry with them, He continued to lead them for the FULL PERIOD OF TESTING (of which 40 is a symbol). Israel fell because THEY LEFT GOD. And the self-imposed retribution followed: They fell in the wilderness; they did not enter the promised land of rest.
NOT ENTER REST: Here “rest” is the literal blessings promised by entering the land. God swore because it was appropriate. He simply was uttering the eternal law: We get what we deserve. He didn’t issue a blanket swearing: “I give up on all of you because most of you have tried Me.’ NO. He was specific: “Those who were disobedient” would not enter. Because obedient, Joshua and Caleb did enter the land.
The distinct reason, therefore, assigned by Moses why they did not enter the promised land, was a want of faith, and this accords directly with the design of the apostle here. He is exhorting those whom he addressed to beware of an evil heart of unbelief; Heb_3:12. He says that it was such a heart that excluded the Hebrews from the promised land. The same thing, says he, must exclude you from heaven - the promised home of the believer; and if that firm confidence in God and His promises which He requires is wanting, you will be excluded from the world of eternal rest.
At various intervals the nation of Israel was shaken and sifted by captives and otherwise, that only the loyal and true might remain.
Are you obedient to what God wants you to do?
Are you longing to enter God’s rest?
Hebrews 3:19 Weymouth And so we see that it was owing to lack of faith that they could not be admitted.
This is Paul’s way of saying, “Thus we have learned the lesson; thus we see the point.”
BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF: After all of Paul’s detail, he doesn’t want us to miss his point—the point upon which he builds most of the book of Hebrews—DON’T LOSE FAITH. WITHOUT IT, WE WILL NOT ATTAIN THE PRIZE.
Exodus 17:7 ends with the cryptic and pathetic statement of Israel’s problem: “Is the Lord among us or not?” We must never let such a question lodge in our thoughts.
So we see ... - We see from the direct testimony of the Old Testament that unbelief was the reason why they were excluded from the promised land. Let us learn in view of the reasoning and exhortations here:
(1) The evil of unbelief. It excluded that whole generation, consisting of many hundred thousand souls, from the land of promise - the land to which they had looked with ardent hopes, and with warm desires. It will exclude countless millions from heaven. A “lack of confidence in God” is the great source of evil in this world, and will be the cause of wretchedness to all eternity of unnumbered hosts. But surely that was not a small or unimportant thing which strewed the desert with the bones of that whole generation whom God had in so remarkable a manner rescued from Egyptian servitude. And that cannot be a small matter which will cause multitudes to sink down to infinite wretchedness and despair.
(2) Let us who are professed Christians be cautious against indulging unbelief in our hearts. Our difficulties all begin there. We lose confidence in God. We doubt His promises, His oaths, His threatenings. In dark and trying times we begin to have doubts about the wisdom of His dealings, and about His goodness. Unbelief once admitted into the heart is the beginning of many woes. When a man loses confidence in God, he is on a shoreless ocean that is full of whirlpools, and rocks, and quicksands, and where it is “impossible” to find a secure anchorage. There is nothing to which he may moor his driven bark; and he will never find safety or peace until he comes back to God.
(3) Let us live a life of faith. Let us so live that we may say with Paul, “The life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” So living, we shall have peace. The mind will be at rest. Storms and tempests may blow, but we shall be secure. Others may be troubled in the vicissitudes of life, but our minds will be at peace.
(4) Let us live expecting the future “rest” that remains for us. Let us keep our eye fixed upon it. To us there is a rest promised, as there was to the Hebrews whom God had delivered from the land of oppression; and we may by faith attain to that “rest” as they might have reached the land of Canaan.
(5) Let us persevere to the end. He that draws back must be lost. There is nothing which will furnish certain evidence of religion unless our piety is such as to lead us to persevere until death. The man who enters on the professed Christian life expecting to fall away, or who can look upon the possibility of falling away without concern, has never known anything of the nature of true religion. He cannot be a Christian. He may have had raptures and visions; he may be a loud professor and a noisy and zealous partisan, but he has no evidence that he has ever known anything about religion. That religion which is not connected with a firm and determined purpose by the grace of God to persevere to the end of life, is no true religion; and a man who expects to fall away and go back again to the world, or who can look at such an idea without alarm, should regard it as a settled matter that he has no true knowledge of God.
(6) No man should delay the work of salvation to a future time. today is the accepted time; today the only time of which we have any security. God speaks “today,” and today His voice should be heard. No man on any subject should defer until tomorrow what ought to be done today. What security can anyone have that he will live to see another day? What evidence has he that he will be any more disposed to attend to his salvation then than he is now? What evidence can he have that he will not provoke God by this course, and bring condemnation on his soul? Nowhere has Satan such advantage as in keeping this delusion before the mind; and if in respect to anything the voice of warning and alarm should be lifted loud and long, it is in reference to this. O why will not people be wise “today?” Why will they not embrace the offer of salvation “now?”
How strong is your faith?
How do you know?
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