Written to Jewish Christians, the book of Hebrews contains some deep theology and passages that are personally challenging. One passage that is a beautiful highlighting of history from the Jewish testament that leads into Christian responsibility is chapter 3, verses 7-13.
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’
As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.'”
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Hebrews 3:7-13 ESV
Similarly the word “Today” remindes me of Paul, expounding on God’s promise from Isaiah 49:8
Thus says the LORD:
“In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages,
when he announced to the Corinthians that ‘… now is the day of salvation’ (2 Corinthians 6:2).
The writer of Hebrews, however, digs further back in the Jewish history; past the prophecies God gave through Isaiah, past David’s reign. The author points back to Moses and the deliverance of the Jewish people from Egypt.
There were different times during the trip from Egypt to the land promised to Abraham where the people of Israel rebelled against God like Exodus 17:1-7 but based on “… and saw my works for forty years” I believe this refers to the lack of faith shown by the Jewish people at Kadesh when God told them to enter the land and take it (Numbers 13:1-33 and 14:1-10).
We’re warned to be on guard against having an “evil, sinful heart” leading us to fall away from the living God.
It may be challenging to believe that can happen but we’re warned repeatedly about this by multiple authors in the New Testament. This author has reminded us of this possibility by recounting the history of the Jewish people as they turned away from the living God during their journey from captivity in Egypt to the land God promised Abraham.
We all are rebellious in our hearts against the living God and we must continually and daily seek Him and surrender to Him, accepting what He tells us about reality in opposition to what Satan and the world tell us.
As followers of Christ we’re encouraged and even directed to speak the truth of God into one another’s life with authority and compassion in an effort to keep ourselves from being deceived by sin and becoming hardened in our hearts against God.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
We, Christians, are a fellowship. We share joy and exalt the only true, living God of all. We are to encourage one another to seek lives of holiness in obedience to our God.