Summary: Christians are promised something better. We too, just like Israel, plan to enter a promised land. We to can become complacent in our lives, we can get caught up in sin and have hard hearts. If we allow this to happen then we will be left Wandering in
Wandering in the Wilderness
There is an old saying, "Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it." Perhaps this is why the Hebrew writer takes the time to give his readers a history lesson which at the time was more than 1,000 years old and that is also why today, over 2,000 years later this lesson still needs to be told.
Moses was a hero among heroes to the Israelites. Moses proved himself to both to God and his people by leading them out of bondage in Egypt. God led his people to the edge of Canaan, the promised land. Before entering the promised land, God told Moses to send twelve men to spy out the land (Num. 13:2). As the spies reported back they were all in agreement on what they saw, "A land flowing with milk and honey." But the inhabitants of Canaan were strong and the cities were well fortified. Here is where the spies disagreed, all except two were afraid to go and posses the land. They actually suggested that Israel return to Egypt and back into slavery.
We know the rest of the story, the people followed the majority. They would not listen to Joshua and Caleb. They refused the promise of God. They had hard hearts. As a result, God forced them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. No one of that generation, save Joshua, Caleb and their families, entered into the promised land.
So why this story from ages long past? What could it possibly say to us today? The application is in the striking similarities. Christians are promised something better. We too, just like Israel, plan to enter a promised land. We to can become complacent in our lives, we can get caught up in sin and have hard hearts. If we allow this to happen then we will be left Wandering in the Wilderness.
The Hebrew writer gives us this warning to encourage us not to let our hearts become hard and reject the promise of God.
I. Fix your thoughts on Jesus. Heb. 3:1–6
A. Jesus is faithful over God’s house.
1. Moses led God’s people to the edge of the promised land.
2. Jesus leads God’s people to a new promised land.
B. Christians are God’s house.
1. God has provided an escape from our bondage. Rom. 6:22–23
2. The decision for us is: Will you trust God’s promises?
II. Don’t let your hearts be hardened. Heb. 3:7–12
A. Sin blinds the heart to it’s lost condition. 2 Cor. 4:4
B. Illustration: George Sweeting wrote about a visit his family made to Niagara Falls one spring. The ice was breaking up on the river and large chunks of ice were floating down and over the falls. The most curious site was the large amounts of birds floating along on these chunks of ice. Looking closer at the ice he could see that inside were frozen fish. The birds were chipping away at the ice and eating the fish. When the birds would float to the edge of the falls they would simply stretch out their wings and fly away. He watched as one bird seemed to delay stretching out his wings, he was so focused on eating the fish and at the very edge of the falls he stretched out his wings. The bird flapped and flapped and even lifted the ice up out of the water for a moment, but it had delayed too long, so long that it’s claws had frozen into the ice and down the falls it went. We too can be distracted by sin and before we know it, it’s too late.
C. Unbelief in God’s promises leaves one separated from God. Eph. 4:18
III. Encourage one Another. Heb. 3:13–19
A. It is every Christian’s duty to help fellow Christians.
1. Our human nature is corrupted by a desire to sin. Eph. 4:22–24
2. Christ is able to change this process and it is strengthened by encouragement from our brothers and sisters.
B. Ultimately, each individual is responsible for his/her own salvation. Romans 14:11–12
Mitchell Skelton, Minister–Midway church of Christ