Summary: We can anticipate knowing people who once claimed to follow Jesus but then later decided to disavow Him. How do we account for this?
History Repeats Itself
1. Many people today are walking away from the Lord. How do we account for this?
Many compliant but unconverted. Some may come to Christ later.
2. Many of those are not denying that Jesus is the Son of God; they just don’t care.
3. Some have become enemies of the Gospel or embraced false religions. Others just numb. Deliberate rejection. That was the question the Messianic Jews had when they saw some of their peers trashed Jesus & return to mainstream Judaism. Disturbing.
4. We call this apostasy and should not be confused with falling into sin.
5. A lot of evangelical Christianity is based upon group dynamics, a lot like the ancient Hebrews who followed Moses. It was the thing to do.
6. Most of us agree that someone whose faith and trust are not in Jesus are lost. But what if they once professed the faith that they now deny? What happened?
7. Were they saved and then lost their salvation, or where they never really saved?
8. In one sense, it doesn’t matter. They are lost. In another sense, it does matter, because if God elects people for salvation, is God’s sovereignty broken?
Main Idea: We can anticipate knowing people who once claimed to follow Jesus but then later decided to disavow Him. How do we account for this?
I. The HISTORY LESSON Today’s Text Is Built Upon: Rejection of the Promised Land (Numbers 13-14)
The Hebrews text is a Midrash or application of the events in Numbers 13-14.
A. Most were skeptics, even though they were ENLIGHTENED by God’s Word.
1. Their commitment to Yahweh was tenuous, with reservation, and probationary. Not final, unreserved, and genuine.
2. It easily may have been a case of group dynamics & being overwhelmed.
B. They had seen God’s POWER in miracle after miracle.
C. In their hearts, they wanted to RETURN to Egypt and worship the gods of Egypt.
D. The twelve spies previewed Canaan and INTERPRET its challenges in 2 opposite ways.
E. They tasted the amazing PRODUCE of Canaan, including giant grapes.
F. The people refused to believe God would HONOR His Word.
G. They could not BACKTRACK: too late.
H. They suffered God’s JUDGMENT: wandering 40 years until they dropped in death.
I. What was their problem? They didn’t actually TRUST God’s character!
II. The Same PRINCIPLES Apply to Those Who Have Professed Faith in Jesus to Later Reject Him (Hebrews 6:4-12)
1. The application of this text to the people who professed faith in Christ only to later reject Him is drawing parallels in some sense. As with many Midrashim, the author uses a little creativity to make things fit the illustration.
2. Much of how we interpret this passage will be based upon whether we agree that it is in fact a Midrash or not.
3. If you read the Numbers account, it is obvious that many or most of the Hebrews were not right with God, at least that first generation. It is not like they were godly and then fell away.
4. They went along with Moses (sometimes), but did they take ownership of a relationship to the Lord? No. And understanding this is crucial.
Why is repentance impossible? It is not that God will not accept repentance, it is, rather, that is impossible for these mentioned here to repent; they have crossed a boundary. You cannot put an impression on concrete once it is dry.
A. They had been ENLIGHTENED with the Gospel.
1. The Hebrews were enlightened by pillar of fire/Torah, these apostates by the Gospel.
2. The Hebrews sampled the grapes, these sampled salvation.
B. They have tasted the produce of the HEAVENLY Canaan.
• They have not entered the land of Canaan and the rest that goes with it.
C. They have seen God’s POWER through the Holy Spirit.
D. They desired to RETURN to their previous religious status and forsake their inheritance.
1. It is one thing to doubt.
2. It is another thing to backslide.
3. It is yet another to refute and reject Jesus.
E. The changed their INTERPRETATION of the cross in unbelief.
They are agreeing with those who nailed Jesus to the cross. If Jesus was a false teacher and a fake, then death was the appropriate penalty.
F. They cannot BACKTRACK and now accept the Messiah: too late.
2 Peter 2:20-22, “ For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”