Summary: The danger of having a hard and unbelieving heart
Hard Hearts and Unbelief
Ps 95: 7 For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: 8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 When your fathers tested Me; They tried Me, though they saw My work. 10 For forty years I was grieved with that generation, And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts, And they do not know My ways.’ 11 So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’”
Having graphically shown that our Lord Jesus Christ is the great Prophet and Teacher of His Church Hebrews now emphasises our duty to listen to Christ’s voice and to obey Him. A lesson that we still find it hard to put into practice!
Today if you will hear His voice v7
Today! Now! At once! This is not something that we can put off until it is convenient! God’s commands are for the present. He does not tell us to repent or to obey tomorrow, next week or next year. One reason is obvious. We are not promised another day’s life, only this moment. Life is like a candle that is easily snuffed out in a moment.
We can see a second reason in the parable of the sower (Mathew 13) Jesus described the seed that fell on the well trodden pathway. It sat there for a while and might have germinated and born fruit, but the birds came along and eat up the seed. Jesus said that was how the devil deals with us. If we procrastinate with God’s word then Satan will make sure that it is taken away before it puts down roots in our hearts. Truly the road to hell is paved with good intentions - ones that we planned to do something about tomorrow, but never actually got round to.
Almost persuaded now to believe;
Almost persuaded Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say,
Go, Spirit, go Thy way,
Some more convenient day
On Thee I’ll call.
Almost persuaded, come, come today;
Almost persuaded, turn not away;
Jesus invites you here,
Angels are lingering near
Prayers rise from hearts so dear;
O wanderer, come!
Almost persuaded, harvest is past!
Almost persuaded, doom comes at last!
Almost cannot avail;
Almost is but to fail!
Sad, sad, that bitter wail—
Almost, but lost!
My motto tends to be: Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can put off till the day after! Is this your tendency too? Procrastination is like playing Russian Roulette with your eternal destiny if you are not saved. Nor is it the way for a Christian to live. Procrastination is not only a thief of time, but also of fulfilment and contentment.
Today if you will hear His voice 7
If we want to listen then we need to know where we can find God’s voice. We can find it in:
• His written word;
• faithful preaching;
• our consciences;
• the circumstances of every day life;
• the advice of Christian relatives and friends.
Of course all but the Bible may be mistaken or misleading and even Scripture can be misinterpreted or taken out of context, so we need to be careful with what we hear. (Acts 17:11 The Bereans searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.) Hearing God’s voice is 99% to do with our attitude and that is where the passage focuses. There are two sides to this:
If you will hear
If we don’t want to hear then we won’t listen and if we don’t listen then we won’t hear! God does not force Himself upon us, remember how Jesus drew alongside the disciples on the road to Emmaus but He gave the impression that he meant to go on further, 29 but they stopped him with the words, “Do stay with us. It is nearly evening and the day will soon be over.” So he went indoors to stay with them. Lk 24 (JB Phillips)
Do we expect God to speak to us as we read His Word or as we listen to preachers in Church? It is so easy to switch off and not to listen. God does not normally shout and it is easy for His voice to be drowned out by the business of our lives and all of its distractions.
Do we want to hear His voice? Are we paying attention or planning our next shopping trip or job for work tomorrow? If we expect nothing from God, we’ll never be disappointed! On the other hand we have His promise seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. De 4:29 Are we seekers for God?