Summary: A sermon on Hebrews 3:7-19 about belief (Parts adapted from Jerry Watts's sermon on Sermon Central called "What Am I To Believe?")
A young couple, very much in love, were getting married in church. However, the bride was very nervous about the big occasion and so the preacher chose one verse that he felt would be a great encouragement to them. The verse was 1 John 4:18 which says:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear
The preacher asked the best man to read it during the ceremony. The preacher did not know the best man was not a regular churchgoer and did not know the difference between the Gospel of John and the First Letter of John. During the service the best man introduced the reading by saying that the preacher felt this was a very good verse for the bride and that he would say more about it later in the service and then read John 4:18, which says
The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.
The preacher wanted to encourage the couple. His attempt went very wrong.
We can use all the events of the children of Israel reaching the Promised Land as an illustration of the work of Christ.
Christ is the Passover Lamb, sacrificed for his people. 1 Corinthians 5:7: Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
Our baptism into Christ is like Israel’s passage through the Red Sea. 1 Corinthians 10:1-2: our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
Our feeding on Jesus Christ by faith is like the children of Israel feeding on the manna. John 6:48-51: I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
Our drinking the living water from Jesus Christ is like the Israelites drinking the water from the rock. 1 Corinthians 10:3-4: They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
We long for heaven, our Promised Land, in much the same way that the Israelites longed for their earthly Canaan, the Promised Land. Hymn: On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand, And cast a wishful eye To Canaan’s fair and happy land, Where my possessions lie. I am bound for the Promised Land, I am bound for the Promised Land; O who will come and go with me? I am bound for the Promised Land.
When we know the whole story, we don’t need to follow their examples of disobedience. 1 Corinthians 10:11: These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us. 1 Corinthians 10:5: God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
There is a quote from Psalm 95 here to warn us of unbelief. The main event that is talked is in Numbers 13 and 14 (the rebellion). God brought them to Kadesh and told Moses to send out 12 spies, one spy from each tribe of Israel. Read Numbers 13:26 to Numbers 14:11. Then the Lord wants to destroy the whole nation and make another nation out of Moses. Moses pleads with the Lord not to do this. Read Numbers 14:20-24.
Can we imagine Caleb’s reaction to this? Imagine Caleb’s life after this? Caleb had to go back to his life as one of the people. Joshua is an insider while Caleb is not.
Later on at the age of 85 we see Caleb taking Hebron as his own. Last of generation.
Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim- leading tribe in the North. Caleb was from the tribe of Judah- leading tribe in the South. With their faith, we can see why.
We need more Caleb’s and Joshua’s. Can do attitude- characterized by enthusiasm and confidence in taking on tasks or challenges. Numbers 13:30
What was the Israelites problem? They have seen the miracles (Plagues, Red Sea) but they still don’t believe. Vs. 22 mentions 10 times. Here are some of their testings: Bad water (made sweet) or no water (struck rock) , no food (manna), want different food (quail), complained about leadership of Moses, want different God (golden calf), etc.
They were nothing but a bunch of whiners, complainers, and cynics. To be cynical is to be doubtful as to whether something will happen or whether it is worthwhile. If left unchecked a cynical attitude will lead to unbelief. Unbelief will lead to disobedience. Unbelief and disobedience against God leads to death.