Wednesday, May 30, 2012

‘They always go astray in their heart………..

 “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you will hear His voice,
 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
In the day of trial in the wilderness,
 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,
And saw My works forty years.
 Therefore I was angry with that generation,
And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,
And they have not known My ways.’
 So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’”

 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.   For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said:

“Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Heb. 3:7-15 NKJV

In this passage we see that the Israelites had seen God's gracious works; they had seen signs and wonders and miracles of mercy, they had tasted the heavenly gift, but instead of being softened to trust God in the day of trials when things were difficult, they became hard and unbelieving and did not trust God's goodness, but murmured.

The result was that God was angry and cut them off from the Promised Land.

Now the point is that this is what will happen to us, if -- the big "IF" of verse 6 and 14 -----If we harden our hearts in the day of trial and murmur against Him and throw away our confidence and hope in God.

The story of Israel is an example for the professing church.  Do not treat the grace of God with contempt -- presuming to receive it as an escape from the Egypt of misery, but not being satisfied with it as guidance and provision in the wilderness of this life.  There are many professing Christians who want the mercy of forgiveness so that they won't go to hell, but have hard hearts toward the Lord when it comes to daily fellowship with Him!

Note that the issue of perseverance is not first an issue of behavior.  Do not be asking first: What actions does God want me to do? The issue in this text is one of the heart.  It is a matter of believing or trusting in God.

 Look at verse 10: "Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, "they always go astray in their heart.'" Why didn't the people get to enter the Promised Land?  You could say, they sinned and they rebelled and they murmured. Yes. But look at how this writer ends the chapter. Verse 19: "And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief."

Persistent sin in the face of God's mercy is a sign of unbelief.

The people were embittered because of God's testing (v. 8); yes, they sinned (v. 17); but beneath all that was the root problem: they did not believe God, that is, they did not trust His goodness --- to lead and protect and provide and satisfy.

Even though they saw the waters of the Red Sea divide and they walked over on dry ground, the moment they got thirsty, their hearts were hard against God and they did not trust Him to take care of them.  They cried out against Him and said that life in Egypt was better.

That is what Bible was written to prevent.   How many professing Christians make a true start with God?  They hear that their sins can be forgiven and that they can escape hell and go to heaven and they say: “What have I got to lose, I'll believe.”

 But then in a week or a month or a year, the test comes -- a season of no water in the wilderness.  You have weariness with manna, and a growing craving for the fleeting pleasures of Egypt, as Numbers 11:5-6 says, "We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna."

This is a terrifying condition to be in, to find you are no longer interested in Jesus, His Word, prayer, worship and living for the glory of God.  It is a horrible place to find all fleeting pleasures of this world more attractive than the things of the God.

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