Summary: The day of salvation has come. We must not hardened our hearts to the gospel.
Hard Hearts and Dog Tired
Several years ago local radio stations throughout California ran a request for a thief who had earlier that morning stolen a VW Bug to immediately contact the local police authorities. What the thief did not know was that the owner of the VW Bug had tainted some saltine crackers with rat poison in an attempt to get rid of the critters that were invading his home. The tainted saltines were on the front seat of the car, when the VW was stolen. The police bulletin wasn’t so much to capture the thief and return the stolen care, as it was to save the thief from eating the crackers and dying.
The warning in this morning’s passage is a little like that police bulletin. Sin separates us from God. Sin destroys our lives. Sin leads to death and eternal separation from our loving Savior. Jesus is our only hope of salvation. The gospel is the all-points bulletin sent to rescue us. But in order for us to be rescued, we must admit that we sinned. The thief stole the car. He needs to admit it, repent, and be saved.
But sin hardens the heart, and prevents the sinner from grasping the life-line of the gospel.
In today’s reading, the early church was filled, much like the modern church is, with individuals who heard the gospel, were curious by what they heard, but who failed to surrender their lives and their sin to Christ. This church consisted of true believers, and individuals who would be more religious that righteous. They heard the gospel, but the gospel had not transformed their lives. We would call them nominal Christians. Christians in name only - without true faith.
This is not a new thing in Christianity. There have always been those who truly believed, and those who just believed culturally. In ancient Israel, there were those who were Jew by birth. They had the blood of Jew and the culture of a Jew, but they did not follow the faith of Abraham.
It is those, the writer of Hebrews now addresses:
Read Hebrews 3: 7- 12
1. God calls us to believe and to enter His rest
a) Notice first of all that God chooses to communicate with us through the inspired scriptures. It is the Word of God brought to us by the Holy Spirit of God through the pen of men. Psalm 95 is quoted here. The events of the time of the wandering in the wilderness had an application for the people of Moses and for the readers of David some 1000 years later, and for the early church 1000 years after that and for us 2000 years later. It is an illustration thousands of years old, but the Holy Spirit speaks it today to us.
b) And what is the illustration? It is of the children of Israel who saw miracle after miracle and divine provision after divine provision, and yet they grumbled against God and refused to believe that He would care for them. They had walked out of Egypt free after 400 years of slavery. They had witnessed their children saved from the angel of death who had struck down the Egyptian children. They watched as God parted the sea so that they could escape Pharaoh. They received daily bread and fresh water from rocks. Their clothing never wore out. They had God’s servant Moses to lead them. He gave them God’s Word and God’s law. They saw his face aglow from the glory of the Lord. They had a cloud to shade them by day, and a pillar of fire to point the way at night. And yet, they still refused to believe. When the report was given that God had given the land of rest back to them, they refused to enter into that land of rest. They rejected God and His plan for their lives. And so they suffered death in the desert. They never reached Canaan.
c) Canaan is a symbol of God’s rest and a picture of Gods’ salvation.
d) Because they refused God, God stopped offering the place of salvation. If they wanted to return to Egypt, he would let them die in the wilderness.
e) Here we see that whole generation hardened their hearts before God. To harden the heart means to dry it out or dry it up. Their hearts dried up. They became brittle and hard.
f) The same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay. It depends on the condition of the materials heated by the sun. “God who is continually tested will never be accepted.” You cannot continue to choose to sin, to continue to doubt and expect that your heart will not eventually become so hard that there is no hope of repentance or change.