Believe His Promises
Hebrews 3:7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice,
Hold Fast the Confidence
The word here for “wherefore” is the Greek word dio (dee-o’) which means wherefore, therefore, or for which cause. So, we must look back to the statement just before he said “wherefore” to understand what he’s referring to. The previous verse says . . .
Hebrews 3:6 But Christ [was faithful] as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.
Wherefore, or because we are His house if we hold fast the confidence and hope we have in Him to the end . . .
And then he interjects a reference to Psalm 95:7-11 as he continues his statement, as seen in Hebrews 3:8-12 below.
Hebrews 3:8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
Hebrews 3:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
Hebrews 3:10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.
Hebrews 3:11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
An Evil Heart of Unbelief
Then, after injecting this parenthetical thought, he continues with the statement he was making.
Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
So, to keep from interrupting the flow of thought, we will say it this way. Because we, you and I, are His house if we hold firm our confidence and hope in Him until the end, then let us take heed, lest there be an evil heart of unbelief in any of you, in desiring to depart from the living God.
Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness. It would be good to talk a lot about this portion of scripture, but at this time we will just give a very brief overview.
The reference to Psalm 95:7-11 made in Hebrews 3:8-12 was, in Psalm 95, referring to the story that unfolded in Numbers chapter thirteen and fourteen, in which Moses sent out twelve men to search out the land of Canaan to see what kind of land it was, if it was a good land, if it was fortified, and so forth, and to bring back a report to the people.
After forty days the twelve spies came back to bring a report to Moses and the people. And they reported that the land was indeed a good land that flowed with milk and honey, but, unfortunately, the people of the land were, in their humble opinion, far too strong to overcome.
But Caleb, who was one of the men who searched out the land, stood up and exhorted the people to go up at once and possess the land, for, he said, we are well able to overcome it. And so, an argument ensued between him and the other ones who had given the bad report.
The People Rebelled
And, as the story continues into Numbers chapter fourteen, the people lifted up their voice and cried, and they wept all night long. By the next day they had made a decision to appoint a new leader to take them back to Egypt.
Isn’t it amazing how quickly we want to turn back when things get a little difficult? God promised He would give them a land that flowed with milk and honey, but when it looked like it might be difficult to take the land, they just wanted to go back to Egypt, where they had been slaves.
But Joshua and Caleb stood up and attempted to encourage the people to trust in the LORD, saying that the land is a good land, and that the LORD delights in us, and He will give us the land. And they pleaded with the people not to rebel against the LORD.
Numbers 14:9 Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.
They shall not See the Land
But the people wanted to stone Joshua and Caleb for talking that way. It's amazing how someone in unbelief and fear and doubt does not want to hear someone talk in faith. They get angry and want to stone you.
And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle. And the LORD spoke to Moses and said, I am going to destroy this entire congregation. But Moses reasoned with the LORD, and he asked Him to pardon the people in the greatness of His mercy.
Numbers 14:20 And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word:
Numbers 14:21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.
Numbers 14:22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;
Numbers 14:23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:
God said, surely, they shall not see the land I promised them. This is the place where the LORD swore in His wrath that they would not enter into His rest. And that, of course, is referring to the land that He had promised to give them.
But, on a side thought, we will discover as we study this subject a little more that, even though Israel did enter into the promised land forty years later, they never did enter into His rest.
Hebrews 4:8 For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.
We will talk more about this when we look at Hebrews chapter four. But, for now, let’s get back to Hebrews chapter three.
Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
The emphasis here is still on keeping faith in Christ, exhorting one another to not be hardened in heart through sin, and not to depart from the living God, but stay the course. Remember, Joshua and Caleb exhorted the people not to rebel against the LORD, so as not to be among those who would not enter His rest.
Hebrews 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
Hebrews 3:15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
Hebrews 3:16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.
They Failed to Believe the Promise
Hebrews 3:17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?
What was their sin? Did they murder one another? Did they worship idols? Did they commit adultery? No. Their sin was that they refused to believe the promise God had given them.
Hebrews 3:18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?
Who was it that He swore to that they would not enter His rest? It was not spoken to Joshua and Caleb, for they eventually entered the land of promise. It was spoken to those who refused to believe His promise.
Because of Unbelief
Hebrews 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
It was their unbelief that prevented them from receiving what God had promised and had provided for them. The land was theirs, but they would not believe it. Someone has said that the only thing that keeps us from receiving God’s blessing is our unbelief. That’s a strong statement, but we can see it in the ministry of Jesus.
In Mark chapter six Jesus visited His hometown of Nazareth, to do what He did everywhere else He went, to bring blessing to all who were in need. But something unusual happened.
Mark 6:5 And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them.
It did not say He would not, but that He could not do any mighty works there, except that He healed a few sickly folks. What happened? Why was Jesus Himself unable to bless the people the way He wanted to?
Mark 6:6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.
He recognized the problem immediately. It was their unbelief. And He marvelled because of it. They must have had an outstanding amount of unbelief, that Jesus would marvel at it.
If unbelief could stop Jesus, how much more can it stop us? Let us hold fast to our confidence, our hope, our faith in Him. And let us not develop within us an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.