Hebrews 3:7-8 (NIV) 7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert,
On verses 7-12: There are two crucial lessons I learn as I read these verses today.
First, notice that in verses 7-11 the writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 95:7-11 and prefaces it was saying, “as the Holy Spiritsays”. In other words, the writer of Hebrews believed the Old Testament is not just people’s words, but the inspired words of the Holy Spirit.
Second, notice that in this passage we are told not to harden our hearts and not to have an unbelieving heart that turns away from the Lord (v12). In other words, your heart’s condition is your choice. The condition of your heart is not something that is beyond your control. Rather, you choose whether you will have a soft heart or a hardened heart toward God. You choose whether you will have a heart that humbly responds to God or a heart that pridefully and stubbornly rejects Him. It’s your choice. Choose a soft and humble heart toward God today.
Hebrews 3:13 (NIV) 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
On verse 13: While your heart’s condition is ultimately your choice, it’s also true that our heart’s condition can be affected by the things people do and say. That’s why verse 13 tells us to encourage one another daily – that is, inspire, comfort and challenge one another every day. Encouragement can soften and lift up a person’s heart, while a lack of encouragement can harden a person’s heart. Are you someone who encourages others daily? Can people expect to hear an encouraging word from you every time they see you, or are you known for speaking negative, critical words that destroy rather than build up? If you want your home, your workplace, your church, and your friendships to be a place where God’s loving presence is felt, encourage one another every day.
Hebrews 3:14-19 (NIV) 14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. 15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” 16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
On verses 14-19: One of the big themes of the book of Hebrews is perseverance (for example, see Hebrews 12:1). As verse 14 says, “We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” In other words, part of becoming more like Christ is persevering in your faith and not giving up. As an example of not persevering, the writer of Hebrews reminds his Jewish readership of those Israelites whom God led out of Egypt with a mighty arm and miraculous deeds, and who later did not reach the Promised Land and who disobeyed God because of their unbelief. Due to their refusal to persevere and hold fast in the faith, these Israelites fell in the desert and missed God’s original plan for their lives.
What can we learn from this? There will times when you feel like you are walking in the desert and your faith is being tested. In those times, don’t give up. Persevere. As James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Maybe God is allowing you to go through the desert today. If so, remember: it’s not to punish you, but to refine you into a stronger, wiser, more mature and complete person. So don’t give up. God has not finished writing your story and the best is yet to come.
Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me today that having a soft and humble heart, being an encouraging person, and being one who perseveres – all of these are my choices to make. No one can make those choices for me. I pray that I would have a soft and humble heart toward You, that I would be known as an encouraging person, and that in times of trial I would persevere knowing that You are writing a greater story. Thank You that because Jesus is with me, the best is yet to come. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!