Summary: In the same way, the verses we are going to study today serve as a warning for believers that were being tempted to find their hope in something other than the Gospel.
Jesus is > than our Unbelief
Pastor Jefferson M. Williams
[Picture - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Mano_de_Punta_del_Este#/media/File:Thehandofpuntadeleste.jpg]
In the coastal town of Punta de Esta in Uruguay, there is a very famous statue emerging out of the sand on one of the most popular beaches. It is called “La Mano,” or “The Hand” and depicts the hand of a drowning man coming out of the sand. It was created by a Chilean artist as a warning that the waters off the coast were very dangerous for swimming and many people had drowned there.
In the same way, the verses we are going to study today serve as a warning for believers that were being tempted to find their hope in something other than the Gospel.
The book of Hebrews was written to early house churches in the area of Rome that were be persecuted for their faith.
We aren’t sure who wrote the book but we know it was written some time before AD 70 because the author doesn’t mention the destruction of the Temple.
In the first two chapters, we see a theme emerging. Jesus is greater. He’s greater than the prophets that came before Him. He’s greater than the angels. He’s even greater than Moses!
Verses 1-6 of chapter three, the case is made that Jesus and Moses were both faithful but Moses was a servant in God’s house while Jesus was a Son who created the house.
In verses 7-19, the writer is going to use the example of the Israelites unfaithfulness as a warning to these early Christians, and us, to keep holding on to our faith when things get difficult.
Turn with me to Hebrews 3:7.
The writer of Hebrews begins with an illustration.
That’s what David is doing in these verses and the writer of Hebrews cites these verses to say, “Hey remember how the Israelites test God with their ungrateful grumbling? Yeah, don’t be like them!”
So, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’” (Hebrews 3:7-11)
The writer of Hebrews moves from a positive example of Moses faithfulness to the negative example of the Israelites unfaithfulness.
When writing about the Israelites time wandering in the desert, Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
"These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.” (I Cor 10:11)
These verses are actually a commentary on an Old Testament passage from Psalm 95.
Notice that it begins, “as the Holy Spirit says…”. David wrote this Psalm under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Paul told Timothy that all Scriptures are “God breathed” (I Tim 3:16) and in the next chapter of Hebrews we see that the Word is “alive and active.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Notice also the tense - “as the Holy Spirit says…”. It is present tense. The Word spoke the original hearers of Psalm 95 and to the hearers of this letter. But it also speaks to us today.
The writer then quotes the second half of Psalm 95. The first half is a call to worship. But the second half recounts a very dark time in Israel’s history.
After 430 years of slavery in Egypt, God delivered them through a series of plagues, signs, and wonders. Moses lead them out of Egypt and the entire nation witnessed the parting of the Red Sea and the rescue from Pharaoh’s troops.
The Promised Land of Canaan was only an eleven days journey from the Red Sea. All they had to do was follow the pillar of fire by night and the cloud by day and in less than two weeks they would be in the land of “milk and honey.”
David issues a command not to “harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did.”
He is probably remembering at least two different very sad stories.
In Exodus 17, we find the Israelites in the Desert of Sin, geographically and spiritually. At Rephidim, they camped and the whole group began to grumble.
They were thirsty and that place had no water. So they grumbled at Moses, “Give us water to drink. God just brought us out of Egypt to watch us die of thirst!”