We begin this week by reading Hebrews 3:7-12
v7: There are only two responses, and two subsequent outcomes, to the proclamation of truth/the revelation of G-d:
1. Hear and obey (and be treated as a member of His household).
2. Hear and rebel (and be treated as a rebel at the end).
When is the time to respond? Today! (James 4:13-14)
v8: The decision to obey begins in faith. Faith is not obedient deeds; faith is a confession: “I believe, and I accept this.” True faith has power to transform us and produces obedience. We are His workmanship – He is going to grow and mature us because He loves us. The L-rd disciplines those He loves. Through His faithfulness, He is going to cause us to grow and to obey.
v9: Tested Me: During the time in the wilderness, the people tested G-d. They tried Him out in order to experience who He was and what He was really like. They caused G-d to demonstrate His faithfulness, to show that His Word was trustworthy. Transgression led to punishment. Obedience led to reward.
- Proved Me: G-d is faithful and manifests Himself to people. The Torah (law) is not an instrument of salvation, but it does contain wisdom and truth for us. It teaches us what is righteous and what is unrighteous. In the Torah, G-d set before the people blessing and curse. This proves G-d. Why? When the people, in the wilderness, transgressed the commandments, curses followed their disobedience. Conversely, when they submitted to the Word of G-d, blessings followed their obedience. In both circumstances the Word of the L-rd was proved and found to be faithful and true.
- Saw My works for forty years: G-d gave them 40 years of proving His faithfulness. Unfortunately, the group that came out of Egypt stubbornly and rebelliously refused to accept Him – they heard His voice and continued to rebel. All, but two, died in the wilderness.
v10: Angry: Vexed, wrathful
- They have not known My ways: In John 14:6 Yeshua says He is the Way, and no one can come to the Father except through Him. In Ex 33:12-13 Moses is confused. He knows his assignment (to bring the people into the land) but he does not know who G-d is going to send with Him – he is requesting, at that time, Messiah. Moses believed that when the people entered into the land, the Kingdom was going to begin and needed a king. As the first redeemer he was looking for the second one. He knew that the One who was to establish the Kingdom was not himself but King Messiah. Moses questioned G-d as to why He would not show him the One whom He was going to send. He asked G-d to show him His Way. Scholars in Judaism understand that this is a reference to Messiah. Those who erred in the wilderness, by not knowing G-d’s way, experienced His wrath. Likewise, those who do not know Messiah will too. Israel’s time in the wilderness is a paradigm for understanding the church today. If we learn the testimony of what those people heard and how they responded, we can understand what G-d expects from us. We learn from the testimonies of the past to prepare for today, as well as for the future.
v11: I swore: G-d has taken an oath, made a promise that is binding on Himself.
- They shall not enter my rest: Here we see another paradigm. Entering into the Promised Land patterns for us entering into the Kingdom. Not knowing the ways of G-d barred the people from the Promised Land. Not knowing, and accepting, that Messiah is the only Way will bar people from entering the Kingdom. Those who reject Messiah will not find rest but will be a recipient of His wrath.
v12: Beware (Watch): This same word was used by Messiah, in the Gospels, in regard to the last days. It means to be prophetically literate. We need to be able to discern what is going on in this world so that we can respond properly. We need to know how to interpret the times that we are living in (Luke 12:54-56). Everything G-d does He reveals to His prophets first (Amos 3:7). On our own we will not be able to discern the closeness of Messiah’s return. If we have prophetic insight and ‘watch’, as Messiah warned us to, we will be a people who are prepared for Him and for what He is going to bring about.
- Brethren: This is a warning to believers. The people who claim to know G-d need to make sure that they have a covenantal relationship with Him.
- An evil heart of unbelief: The heart, in Scripture, is the seat of our thoughts and emotions (Prov 23:7). It is in our hearts where we plan our course (Prov 16:9). We need to have hearts redeemed by the blood of Messiah (circumcised, a heart that operates in the Spirit and not in the flesh – Deut 30:6). When we do not exercise faith, and do not believe the Word of G-d, our hearts are evil – they do not desire to do G-d’s will. In the congregation that left Egypt there were many people, rebels, who did not have faith and left for the wrong reasons. They were not interested in being servants of G-d. They did not go into the wilderness to worship G-d (to receive His instruction and apply it to their lives). They loved Egypt (constantly longing for the good food that they had eaten there) but had wanted to escape the affliction they had experienced there. After their ‘baptism’ in the Red Sea they did not come out as a new people. Like this congregation, there may be some among us who have not made a real, sincere commitment to G-d. These are who this verse is warning us about.
- Departing from the Living G-d: The Greek word for depart is ἀποστῆναι. It means to go away from or to stand from. As a noun this word means “apostasy”. This is not talking about causing us to lose our salvation. Those with unbelieving, evil hearts quickly turn away from G-d. They depart from truth because they have believed a false message. They think that if they accept Messiah, they will have all their problems solved. The message, however, is this: When we accept Messiah, He forgives our sins so that we are able to live righteously.
Note: Every time this word appears in the New Testament it speaks of a departure, but it is spoken of in a negative sense (In 2 Thess 2:3 this word is used and is interpreted by many as relating to the rapture/our blessed hope. Departing here does not speak of the rapture, but it speaks of a segment within G-d’s people departing from truth –departing from that which is good to that which is evil– exact opposite of the rapture. This word can also be found in Acts 21:21 where it is used in regard to a false accusation against the apostle Paul. He was accused of departing from the law of Moses (i.e. Teaching heresy) In this passage the word depart is also used negatively.