Summary: A message to challenge believers to hear the voice of God and respond in obedience and unbelievers to respond in faith to God’s salvation.
OPENING ILLUSTRATION (D.L. Moody: listen to audio recording)
The Bible makes it clear that God has given to us two sets of ears; physical ears with which we can hear physical voices. And he has given us spiritual ears with which we can hear his voice.
In our Bible reading for today from Hebrews 3:7-13, the writer of Hebrews was talking about that spiritual voice and those spiritual ears when he wrote these verses.
This passage warns us of the danger of refusing to hear God’s voice.
Someone has said there are only two questions in life: One, "Does God Speak?" and two "What does He say?" Yes, God does speak. There has never been a time when God didn’t speak to us in some way. Sometimes it was through nature; sometimes through dreams and visions; sometimes through conscience; and sometimes through his prophets and priests and kings; … and today he speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways (Reality #4 from Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby). And, His one clear message is, “Come to me and follow me.”
But while God speaks, we don’t have to respond.
When Jesus was here in the flesh, everything obeyed his voice. Humanity alone has been given the ability to say "no" to our Lord. (Expanded on recording)
This privilege isn’t without peril. The writer of Hebrews tells us of three HAZARDS OF REFUSING TO HEAR GOD’S VOICE:
The first hazard of refusing to hear God’s voice is that...
I. ...GOD WILL BE ANGERED
The writer expresses this danger with the use of three words: in verse 8, the word "provocation" comes from a root word that means "to irritate" or "to exasperate." In verse 10, the word translated "grieved" or "angry" means "to feel indignant." And in verse 11, the word translated "wrath" comes from a word that suggests a passionate anger or indignation.
This warning is taken from an experience in Israel’s history. (Expanded on recording)
To their doubting hearts, the giants looked bigger than God did, the obstacles outweighed the opportunities, and their fears were greater than their faith.
So, instead of obeying God, they turned back into the wilderness where they would wander for forty years. The Lord was so grieved and angered at their disobedience and lack of faith that he swore they would never inherit the land.
The lesson and the warning here is, if we refuse his voice, as they refused his voice, we risk missing his blessing forever. If we commit this same sin, we can expect to suffer the same fate.
I simply remind you, those ignorant of history are in danger of repeating it. Today, if you hear God’s voice: if you hear him call you to repentance and faith; harden not your heart. Believe him, accept him, follow him.
The second hazard of refusing God’s voice is that...
II. ...OUR HEARTS WILL BE HARDENED
Even if God never became angry when we refuse to obey him, our hearts would eventually become hardened. Twice in this passage, the word "harden" is used. First, we are told in verse 8 not to “harden our own hearts.” Then we are warned in verse 13 not to "let them be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
Which is it? Do we harden our own hearts or are they hardened by sin? Actually, it’s both. (Expanded on recording)
The word "entice" is a fishing term. A fisherman doesn’t drop a bare hook into the water. He baits the hook to interest and entice a fish. The fisherman hopes the fish will pass nearby and will be unable to resist the bait and will be hooked before he knows it.
Temptation always follows that same overall process. Notice how it works: The bait is dropped; the inner desire is attracted to the bait; we yield to the temptation and we sin. Like the fish, we end up hooked and cooked. That’s the tragic consequence of sin.
So, through deceit, we are led into sin. And, the more we sin the harder our hearts become. The second time we do a thing it’s easier than the first time. And every time we do it, it becomes easier than before.
You would think the more we sinned the more we would be aware of our sin. But the opposite is true.
On the other hand, God comes to convict us of sin. Every time we ignore his conviction, our hearts become more hardened and callused to the truth. God’s voice grows fainter and fainter until we can hardly hear it.
When our family moved to East Point, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, our house was in the flight pattern for Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport. Every few minutes, all day and all night, large commercial jets would take off and fly over our home before veering off to destinations unknown.