by Joe R. Price
The church is God’s house, God’s family (Heb. 3:6; 1 Tim. 3:15). What a blessing that is! As God’s house, we bear a responsibility of service. Hebrews 3:6 continues by saying we are God’s house “if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” Christians need to continue in steadfast faithfulness to God in order to be finally blessed. To emphasize this, the writer used Israel in the wilderness to teach us about maintaining a diligent faith (Heb. 3:7-19). He teaches us how to avoid hardening our hearts against God. Otherwise, we are in danger of falling away from God. Consider four things that will harden our hearts.
Delay (Heb. 3:7-8). “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion….” Israel was slow to trust and obey God. Over and over, Israel made trial of God by failing to trust in His power to save and sustain them. They said, “is the Lord among us or not?” (Exo. 17:7) Shall we also harden ourselves against God by failing to see the power and presence of God within His house, the church (Eph. 3:14-21)? Let us seize the moment to yield our stubborn will to His. Otherwise, our heart will surely grow tired of the call to faithfulness, and we will be lost. God is always present to save.
Doubt (Heb. 3:8-9). Israel doubted God’s power in the wilderness (Heb. 3:8-9). They had seen it in Egypt and in their flight from the Egyptians, yet they hesitated to fully trust Him. Their hearts became unresponsive to God’s call to believe and obey. We must not doubt God, His love, His power, His truth, or anything else that emanates from Him. Build your faith on the unfailing faithfulness of God.
Deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13). Sin promises so much but delivers pain, turmoil and spiritual death. Israel thought the golden calf would help them, and that going back to Egypt would be a blessing. We also can be deceived into thinking the world holds much better things than Christ has to offer. It is a lie. Do not believe it. Sin will not lead you to the promised land.
Disobedience (Heb. 3:15-19). Hearing and knowing God’s word does us no good unless we obey it. In fact, when we hear and know the truth, yet persistently refuse to obey it, we are guilty of provoking God. Plus, we are making it harder on ourselves to obey Him in the future. That is the seriousness of hardening our hearts. We can come to a point where we are no longer reached by God and His word (Heb. 6:4-6).
Remember, God has promised you rest. Do not harden your heart.
(Reprint, The Spirit’s Sword, March 3, 2002)