… do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion (3:8)
This week again, read chapters 3 and 4 of Hebrews, and as you do, keep in mind the principles taught in the first two chapters – the Son who is greater than the prophets, angels, and even Moses. It is in this context of the greatness of Christ, that beginning in verse 6 of chapter 3, we enter into the lengthiest and most solemn warning of the epistle; this is certainly one of the most challenging and provocative portions in all of Scripture.
Quoting from Psalm 95, the author refers to a particular season in Israel’s history where their rebellious, hardened, and unbelieving hearts were exposed. Go back to the book of Numbers and read chapters 13 and 14 to fully understand the context from which these warnings originate. It is the repeated unbelief and disobedience wherein the Israelites refused to enter the land of Canaan, that is in the minds of both the Psalmist as well as the author of Hebrews. Their unbelief is astonishing because they were eyewitnesses of the amazing works of God for 40 years, yet they patently hardened their hearts. Read Psalm 106 to see a catalogue of the historical highlights of God’s faithful and gracious acts during Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness and their faithless response resulting from their hardened hearts. As you read the Psalm, you can sense the hardening of the hearts of the people and resolve of God against their unbelief, landing them finally in captivity. Ultimately the Psalm resolves with God answering His distressed people and delivering them. In this way, Psalm 106 is a beautiful illustration of how God saves rebels by grace alone.
It is a face of life that rebellion remains in the heart of every Christian, and it threatens our soul with infinite loss. As God’s people we must be mortifying rebellion or else we will end up being hardened by its deceitfulness and ultimately destroyed. Like He did with Israel of old, God tests us in the wilderness of this age; He does so to reveal rebellion and hardening of our hearts. How you respond when God reveals your rebellion will determine whether you will finally enter His rest. Much is at stake! Eternity lies in the balance! This does not suggest that our eternal salvation is dependent upon how we handle our remaining rebellion, but that the true sheep of God, who hear His warning cry in this text, will examine themselves and repent and change, rather than further hardening their hearts. What will you do when you are faced with your testing in the wilderness? Will you run away? Or Will you harden your heart further? Or will you repent and believe God’s promises?