Summary: Are you in danger of hardening your heart to the precious truths of the gospel of Christ?
THE DANGER OF HARDNESS OF HEART
How is your heart? I am not asking about the physical condition of your heart, but the spiritual condition. Sometimes we describe the experience of becoming a Christian as inviting Jesus to come into the heart. The Bible speaks of a troubled heart, a broken heart, etc. The Lord Jesus came to take care of troubled hearts, and broken hearts. The bible here warns against the danger of the hardening of one’s heart. It also warns against an evil heart of unbelief.
The theme of Hebrews is the superiority of Jesus Christ over anything or anyone. He is greater than the prophets. He is greater than the angels. He is greater than Moses. The Bible presents the glorious truths of the Gospel. However, there is the danger that one can hardening his heart to those truths. Lost people can harden their hearts by ignoring the prompting of the Holy Spirit. God can harden ones heart as in the case of Pharaoh in Egypt. Pharaoh hardened his own heart so long, that God hardened his heart. Believers can also harden their hearts to the things of God. Our text contains such a warning to those of us who have trusted Christ as our Savior and Lord.
To harden the heart, means to dry up, to become hard or stiff, stubborn. etc. This says to us, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did in the wilderness experience. There are many ways one can harden his heart. By willful rebellion (v. 8-9), by careless drifting and spiritual ignorance (v. 10), by overt unbelief (v. 12), and by yielding to the deceitfulness of sin (v. 13). In our passage for today the writer gives us a admonition from the past, an application for the present.
I. AN ADMONITION FROM THE PAST (3:7-11)
If the sin of rebellion was serious in the Old Testament, it is even more serious in the now. Don’t let what happened to ancient Israel happen to you. Let’s examine the warning
A. THE SOURCE OF THE ADMONITION: The writer of Hebrews uses as his text, Psalm 95:7-11. He begins with the words, “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says….” The Holy Spirit was speaking in this Psalm. Here is a New Testament writer affirms his belief in the validity and inspiration of the Old Testament Scriptures. The Holy Spirit not only inspired the writing of Scripture, he speaks to us, today, through those same Scriptures.
B. THE SUBJECT OF THE ADMONITION “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” To harden the heart, means to dry up, to become hard or stiff, stubborn. etc. This says to us, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did in the wilderness experience. The problem of rebellion is a problem of the heart
God, through Moses, had led Israel out of Egypt and had revealed Hs glory and His moral Law to them. Moses led them out of Egypt, that he might lead them into the land of Promise, ie., the land of Canaan. Canaan is not a picture of heaven but is the land of victory.
However, the Israelites soon rebelled against God and provoked His anger. Ignorance is no excuse. God became angry with that generation and said, “They shall never enter into My rest.” They lived short of the promised Land. Many of them even wanted to go back to Egypt. Because of Unbelief, that entire generation spent the next 40 years wandering and dying in the wilderness. Their forty years in the wilderness was a forty year long funeral possession.
Can you imagine some of the funeral directors of the different tribes gathering together for coffee or tea. “How many did you bury today?” “Oh, I only buried fifty today, what about you?” “Oh I buried twenty three. The director of Benjamin only buried ten, but the tribe of Judah buried over 100.” Of those over age 20 when they came out of Egypt, only Caleb and Joshua lived to enter the Promised Land.
II. AN APPLICATION FOR THE PRESENT (3:12-19)
The writer now applies this warning from the past, to this contemporary readers and to us as well. Because of persecution many believers in the first century were tempted to go back to the old life. This has been a problem down through the ages. I could cite story after story of professing Christians who seemed to walk with God for a time, but then when the pressures came they turned back.
“Beware,” “See to it” “Take heed ," take heed that none of you have an evil heart of unbelief. Don’t let what happened to Israel in the wilderness, happen to you. Israel had been delivered out of 400 years of Egyptian bondage. God’s plan was to lead them into a land (God’s rest land). Because of the unbelief of that generation, they had to spend 40 years in the wilderness living short of God’s best for them.