The Book of Hebrews #12 chapter 3:7-19
The Book of Hebrews
Harden Not Your Hearts
Hebrews 3:7-19
 
All the way through the Bible in different settings and by different phrases and by different words,  God warns men. The reason for that is God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. In fact, Peter reminds us God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Why else would he go the expense of the crucifixion?
 
The book of Hebrews contains 5 such warnings.  The second of those five is found here in our text tonight in
 
Hebrews 3:7:19
 
In these verses it’s as if the Holy Spirit is doing all He can to shove those who are on the edge of salvation on over the line.  Some of the original hearers were undecided about Christ. They were Jews and they knew to expect a Messiah, but weren’t convinced it was Jesus.
 
And these verses are a warning to one who knows the gospel, who knows the truth but has not committed himself to the truth. And in order to get this warning across the Holy Spirit uses an Old Testament account because He knows He's talking to Jews and He wants to talk to them out of their own context.
 
And since Moses is already the subject of the passage in verses 1 to 6 He just picks up on Moses and uses an illustration from Moses that fits in perfectly.
 
He’s already been talking about what a great man of God Moses was, and how Jesus is even greater.  And by the way, that’s a part fo the argument of the entire book – the superiority of Jesus.
 
And by the time we come to chapter 3, Jesus has been proven greater than prophets, greater than angels, and in the first six verses of chapter 3, greater than Moses who is the greatest of all.
 
And since He's already talked about Moses He wants to interject this tremendous, powerful emphasis to those hanging on the brink of decision and He does so by using an illustration right out of the experience of Moses.
 
His presentation falls into four parts, and I’ll do my best to cover them for you tonight.
 
Notice, first of all,
 
1. The Illustration
 
The Holy Spirit chooses to begin this plea to that person who knows about Jesus but has never committed himself, by picking out something right out of the history of Israel during the time of Moses.  The quote is from David (Psalm 95:7-11), but it’s about Moses.
 
 
 
And It's a classic example for the point that the Spirit of God wants to make because the Psalm 95 reflects on Israel's disobedience and rejection of Moses in the Exodus wanderings.
 
You remember the history:  Israel's in the land of Egypt, in captivity. They've been there 400 years making bricks. It got so rough Pharaoh made them make bricks with no straw and the straw was what held them together. They were oppressed, they were beaten and so God brought in Moses.  And through Moses He begins to bring plagues upon Egypt.
 
The plagues finally ended with the death of the first-born and then God said, “All right, Moses, gather them together and get them out of there.”
 
They’ve not been gone too long when the encounter the Red Sea and God parts the waters for them.  And God worked miracle after miracle after miracle. And they got in the wilderness and immediately they didn't believe God.
 
That's a classic illustration of unbelief in the face of overwhelming evidence. God had revealed Himself.  They knew He had revealed Himself.  They knew about His power and yet they did not believe. They would not commit themselves to faith in God and as a result had to wander around in the wilderness for 40 years.
 
Now all of that serves as an illustration for those who come along later.  David was warning his generation a thousand years before Hebrews was written by saying, “Remember the history of the Israelites and don’t doubt God.”
And now the writer of Hebrews is saying, “Don't do what David warned the people not to do in his day which the people in Moses' day had done.”
 
And the warning is still needed today.  Things haven't changed much have they?  I can stand up in front of you tonight and say, “Don't do what the writer of Hebrews told the Hebrews not to do because David told the Hebrews not to do it and Moses said they did it. And so we see the illustration.
 
You can stand on the verge of receiving Jesus Christ so long and you can flirt with the idea and you can say, “I'm not too ready”, but one day God's going to say, “You've had enough evidence and opportunity”, and you shall not see My promised land.
 
And that's why the Bible says today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.
 
So there's the illustration. Then on the basis of the illustration, we see
 
2. The Invitation
 
verse 12
 
Verse 12 is the invitation on the basis of the illustration.   The judgment of the wilderness days fell on those who rejected God's word through Moses and the warning here is on those who reject God's word in Christ.
 
On the basis of what you’ve just heard, examine your own heart to determine if you have an evil heart of unbelief.
 
What is an evil heart of unbelief? II would define it as an evil heart of unbelief. It’s pretty simple.  Do you know what the greatest evil in the world is? Unbelief; failure to believe God.  That is the single greatest sin you could ever commit. Y
 
Unbelief is the one sin that keeps you separated from God forever.  Here are these non-Christians on the verge of faith, maybe even professing to believe in Jesus.  They probably wouldn’t admit to being actively, aggressively against Christ but they are.
 
No matter how close you are to Jesus Christ, if you never come to Him you have an evil heart of unbelief and you're punishment will be all the more sorer punishment because you have departed from what you knew to be the living God.
 
When you've heard the truth of Jesus Christ, then you turn your back and walk away, there is nothing God can do.
 
That’s why we give an invitation.  It’s why this invitation is included here in these verses.  We need to respond to Jesus while the Spirit still warms our heart and while we are sensitive and tender to His love and grace.
 
If you wait too long and you find your heart getting hard and you have an evil heart of unbelief, then you wind up departing.  The word means to stand afar off from, stand apart from. You wind up standing apart from God.  If you're sensitive, respond quickly.  That’s the invitation.
 
 
 
Now look at
 
3. The Instruction
 
verses 13-17
 
He's saying to these Jewish people,  “Get along side each other and call to each other urgently.”
 
The word used there that is translated “exhort” is the same word from which we get “Holy Spirit”.
 
He is the One called alongside us to help.  That’s the idea.   He says, Get along side each other and call urgently to them to turn to Jesus Christ.
 
So the recipients of this letter are urged to exhort one another not to harden by rejecting the Messiah and falling back and to beg one another to come to Christ. The apostle Paul said that in II Corinthians 5, "We beg you in Christ's stead be reconciled to God"
 
He even said, "I could almost wish myself accursed for the sake of my people Israel".
 
That’s the work and message of the church.  Come alongside people and exhort them, beg them. Encourage them to received Christ.  And we do it urgently because of  “the deceitfulness of sin".
 
The word deceitfulness means trickery or strategy. Sin is so tricky.  Sin never makes things look like they really are.  It always masks it. It lies.
 
 
 
And men get hard on the inside and they don't even realize it. And you can hear the gospel of Jesus Christ time and time again and not respond.
 
And it’s kind of interesting that the same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay. And when you are presented with the opportunity to be saved, if it does not melt your heart to faith, it can harden your heart to unbelief.
 
To reject Christ is to run the risk of being hardening to unbelief.  And sin will tell you it’s not that big of a deal.  You’ve got plenty of time.  No need to rush.  Lots of living to do in the meantime.
 
But it’s trickery.  It’s deceitful.
 
So the instruction from the Word of God says to exhort one another to faith.
 
Verse 14
 
In other words, it’s not enough to just say you believe in Jesus because if you really believe it and you've committed your life to it the evidence will be the fact that when it's all over and the day ends, you'll still be there.
 
What is the greatest proof that somebody is a believer? Continuance in the gospel. The true ones are still around no matter what.  This is the same thought as we saw last week in verse 6.
 
The proof is in the pudding.  The Bible  says, “If you're for real, you'll stay.  If you keep my commandments then are you my disciples for real. The true branch abides.”
And He says here it's so strategic for you Jewish people who hear the gospel and know the truth to not go back but be the for real ones that commit themselves to Christ and abide permanently proving you are partakers of Jesus Christ.
 
I don’t know how many church members I’ve known down through the years who have gone through the motions of salvation and church membership and yet they're never at prayer time, they never share their faith, they have nothing to do with worship, they seldom or never read the Scripture, they never talk about the things of God, it's foreign to their conversation and they live like the devil and yet they claim to be Christians. Listen:  Upon the authority of the Word of God, I say to you, “That can't be.”
 
And the tragedy of it is they’ve been deceived.  In fact, they’ll get fighting mad if you suggest they aren’t saved.  And yet, according to Matthew 7:21 at the judgment, "Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, it's us - You know us, and He'll say to them - depart from Me, I never knew you".
 
This is of such importance that the author repeats it again in verse 15
 
Do you think the Holy Spirit wants you to get that message? He repeats it twice. Don't harden your heart.
 
Then watch verse 16
 
The whole pile of them did. Who was it that didn't believe God and was striving and putting God to the test? The whole group was, with only two exceptions.  Joshua and Caleb.
Verse 17
 
God was angry with the whole nation; a whole generation of people and He sentenced that whole generation so that they could not enter into His rest.
 
And if God is nothing else, He is consistent.  As God judged unbelief in the wilderness, He'll judge you today. They rejected the forty years of evidence, added to the evidence they had seen in Egypt and the evidence they had seen in the Exodus and it was knowing and willful unbelief.
 
Verse 18
 
There the real focus of the passage, and that leads us to
 
4. The Issue
 
The illustration and the invitation and the instruction all come to a sharp focus at
 
verse 19
 
Unbelief. We're saved by faith. In verse 19 it says they shouldn't enter into His rest. Who is “they”?
 
Those who did not believe.  And verse 19 is simply repeating the same principle in different words.  They couldn't enter in because of unbelief.
 
God has filled our lives and our world with knowledge of Himself and all He asks is that we believe.  Now belief requires faith.
 
 
Someone may say, “Well, I have to see the facts.  I can’t believe without proof.”
 
But the truth is, everybody lives by faith. You live by faith when you eat.  You go into a restaurant, eat the food, and don’t ask any questions.  Many of you will even eat at Burger King or McDonalds, and only God knows what’s going on back behind that wall.
 
We all live by faith. You trust the people who make the highways and build the bridges.  You trust that when your side of the traffic light is green the other side is red.  You trust the electric company to provide just the right voltage to let things operate in your home.
 
But you’re telling me you don’t have enough faith to trust the God who made you and created the world and sent His Son to die in your place?  I’m telling you, you live by faith and if you can put your faith in the highway department and the people who make your food and provide your electricity, you can put your faith in the God of the universe.
 
And until you do, you'll never enter into God's rest in this life nor will you ever experience eternal life after this life is over unless there is within you a soft, pliable heart that is committed to Jesus Christ in trusting faith.
 
That is where all of life comes to an extremely sharp focus.  This is the issue. And so I say to you tonight as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your heart.”
 
Let's pray.

 

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