We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.
~ HEBREWS 3:14
In Hebrews 3:7-4:11, the writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 95:8-11 and then explains at length the significance of this passage. One reason why the writer focuses so much on these four verses is because they were very familiar to the original audience. Outside evidence indicates that this psalm was frequently read in Jewish worship services at the time, so the writer’s audience would have known it well. Another reason why the writer focuses on this psalm is because the writer feared that the original audience was in danger of suffering the same fate as those described in the psalm.
Psalm 95:8-11 describes the disastrous consequences suffered by the ancient Israelites who rebelled against God in the wilderness after the Exodus. We know from Scripture that these Israelites witnessed some of God’s most profound miracles. They experienced salvation from their slavery in Egypt. They even received direct instruction from God when He gave them the Law at Mt. Sinai. Yet, despite all that God had done for them, they began to doubt Him when they left Egypt and found themselves in the wilderness. When life got tough and they faced hunger, exhaustion, and fierce new enemies, this generation of Israelites stopped trusting in God and started following their own plans. As a direct result of their unbelief, they were not allowed to enter the land God had promised them.
The writer of Hebrews saw parallels between these ancient Israelites and the original readers of Hebrews. Just like the ancient Israelites, the writer’s audience had witnessed miracles (Hebrews 2:4). They had experienced salvation from slavery, not from Egypt, but from sin. They had been taught by those who had heard and learned from Jesus firsthand (Hebrews 2:3). Life had also become tough for them as fierce new enemies began to persecute them because of their faith (Hebrews 10:32-36, 12:3-4, 13:3).
So in Hebrews 3, the writer desperately pleads with the original audience, and with us as well, to learn from the example of the wilderness generation. We should not let present circumstances harden our hearts toward God. The place God has prepared for us after this life isn’t promised to those who only believe once and then turn away from God. It is promised to those who continue to have faith through the wilderness.
JESUS GREATER THAN MOSES
1 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.
WARNING AGAINST UNBELIEF
7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested and tried me,
though for forty years they saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”
12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction rmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:
“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”
16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.