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. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said,
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:7-19, ESV)
Having shown the superiority of Jesus to Moses and by doing so shown the superiority of following him over going back to their original, Messiah-less form of Judaism, the author presses home the need to not harden their hearts but rather hold to their original confidence. To do this he begins an exposition of Psalm 95. It is a psalm that calls God’s people to worship but closes with a warning, a reminder of how Israel put God to the test by hardening their hearts toward Him and disobeying Him. Despite all the miraculous ways He preserved them they would not trust Him and He would not let them enter Canaan, the land He had promised to them, because of their unbelief.
The parallel is clear. This congregation of Jewish believers is in danger of developing an evil and unbelieving heart and falling away from Him. They need to challenge themselves to hold to what they originally believed. The warning of the psalm is to listen “today” and the author of this letter is saying that it will not always be “today.” The need is great, therefore, to not let sin deceive them. If they persist in hardening their hearts they will not enter God’s rest.
Where have you let sin and unbelief creep into your life? You can probably best answer this question by noting where you have been disappointed. Disappointment with life signals that we thought we could depend on God to give us what we needed or thought we needed and He seemingly failed us. Israel would come up against problems in the wilderness like lack of water or food in places called Meribah and Massah. Why would this wonderful God let them experience this? They did not see this as God’s training ground for them, training them to trust Him. And when He did come through it was never enough for them. Hardness had crept in.
Is there someone you can share your disappointment with, someone who will listen and not condemn, but will also help you to see where you’ve grown hard and unbelieving? Don’t let “today” get away from you. Take God up on His offer. Talk to Him about where you are. Do you hear Him calling?