"THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"
A Warning From The Wilderness (Heb 3:7-19)
1. In the previous study, we considered "The Supremacy Of Jesus Over
a. Jesus was superior, not in faithfulness, but in His person and
b. Moses was a servant in the house of God
c. Jesus, however, is the builder of the house, and serves as the
Son over the house
2. In He 3:6, the writer to the Hebrews affirms that "we" are the house
a. Referring to the church, which is the house of God – 1 Tim 3:15
b. For in Christ, we are now "members of the household of God", and
together with the faithful saints of old (including Moses) we are
now "fellow-citizens" in the commonwealth of Israel! – cf. Eph 2:11-22
3. Yet our status as the "house" is conditional
a. "whose house we are IF we hold fast…." – He 3:6
b. We must hold fast "the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope
firm to the end."
4. The need for steadfastness explains the exhortations in this
a. We saw the first exhortation in He 2:1-4, regarding the danger of
b. Now we come to the second exhortation, regarding the danger of
departing from the living God – He 3:7-19
[To warn against the danger of departing, the writer appeals to…]
I. THE EXAMPLE OF ISRAEL IN THE WILDERNESS (He 3:7-11)
A. ISRAEL HARDENED THEIR HEARTS…
1. The quotation in verses 7-11 is from Psa 95:7-11
a. In which the Holy Spirit warned Israel not to be like the
fathers in the wilderness
b. A warning which the Hebrew writer found just as necessary
in his day
2. In the wilderness, the Israelites had…
a. Hardened their hearts by rebelling against God
b. Tested (tried) God with their lack of faith
3. This they did many times during the forty years of wandering,
a. At the beginning, with the incident at Massah ("tempted")
and Meribah ("contention") – cf. Ex 17:1-7
b. Toward the end, with the incident at Kadesh – Nu 27:14;
cf. Nu 20:1-13
B. THEREFORE THEY DID NOT ENTER GOD’S REST…
1. God became angry with that generation in the wilderness for
their persistent rebellion – e.g., Psa 106:13-33
2. So God swore that they would not enter His rest –
cf. Num 14:22-24; Num 14:26-35
a. Of those over the age of 20 when they departed from Egypt,
only Caleb and Joshua entered the promised land
b. The rest (of which there were 603,548 men) died in the
[Because of hardened hearts, Israel departed from God, which led to
rebellion. In turn, they fell short of the Canaan rest that had been
With "A Warning From The Wilderness" fresh on their minds, the writer
then exhorts his brethren by warning them of…]
II. THE DANGER OF DEPARTING (He 3:12-14)
A. THERE IS A NEED TO "BEWARE"…
1. A believer can develop "an evil heart of unbelief"
a. Remember that the recipients of this epistle were "holy
brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling" – He 3:1
b. The warning against developing a heart of unbelief presumes
a real possibility
c. Thus a "believer" can become an "unbeliever"
2. Unbelief is produced as one is "hardened through the
deceitfulness of sin"
a. Sin is deceitful…
1) Promising pleasure, power, and prestige
2) In the short term, that may be true, but such things are
– e.g., He 11:25; 1 Jn 2:17
b. Because of sins deceitfulness, it is easy to become
1) I.e., to be stubborn and not heed the Word of God
2) It happened to Israel, and it can happen to us!
3. The consequence of unbelief is "departing from the living God"
a. As one grows in unbelief, so they drift away from God
b. While a believer remains in fellowship with God, an
unbeliever can only depart further and further away from
B. THE SOLUTION IS TO "EXHORT ONE ANOTHER DAILY"…
1. This is how a believer avoids becoming an unbeliever!
2. Through mutual edification on a daily basis, we can prevent
the "hardening" that comes from sin’s deceitfulness
3. An important part of such exhortation is our assembling
together – cf. He 10:24-25
a. Which should certainly involve our assemblies on the first
day of the week – e.g., Ac 20:7
b. But with a need for "daily exhortation", should we be
content to limit our assembling to one service a week?
c. If we have the opportunity to assemble more often,
4. Even if it is only by phone, we should seek to "exhort one
C. OUR PARTICIPATION IN CHRIST IS CONDITIONAL…
1. Once again we see the conditional nature of our participation
a. We are the house of Christ "…IF we hold the fast the
confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end."
– He 3:6
b. We have become partakers of Christ "…IF we hold the
beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end…," – He 3:14
2. What about the security of the believer?
a. The believer does indeed enjoy the assurance of his
b. But we have seen that a believer can develop "an evil
heart of unbelief"; i.e., become an unbeliever – He 3:12
c. When a "believer" becomes an "unbeliever", what promises of
security and salvation there may be to the believer are no
— This explains the many warnings to remain faithful,
including those of our Lord – Re 2:10
[The danger of departing from God is so great that the writer of
Hebrews returns to "A Warning From The Wilderness"…]
III. THE EXAMPLE OF ISRAEL IN THE WILDERNESS REVISITED (He 3:15-19)
A. ANOTHER APPEAL IS MADE…
1. Quoting again from Psa 95:7-8
2. The Hebrew writer applies the quotation to Christians
a. They need to "hear His (God’s) voice" –
remember He 1:1-2; He 2:1-4?
b. That is, hear with a desire to hearken, for they too can
easily harden their hearts "as in the rebellion"
B. THE NEED FOR CHRISTIANS TO BELIEVE, AND OBEY…
1. In the case of the Israelites, who was it that rebelled?
a. All those who came out of Egypt (except Joshua and Caleb)
b. Though led by Moses, they still rebelled
— We may have been delivered by Christ from the bondage of
sin, but rebellion is still possible!
2. In the case of the Israelites, with whom was God angry forty
a. Those who sinned
b. Those who died in the wilderness as a result of their lack of
— If we become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin,
shall we escape judgment?
3. In the case of the Israelites, who did God not allow in the
a. Those who did not obey
b. Those who developed unbelief
— Will we enter our promised rest if we disobey through
1. When the apostle Paul related some of the same experiences of Israel
in the wilderness, he wrote:
"Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were
written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have
come." – 1 Co 10:11
2. It is for our own admonition that we have such warnings as that
found in our text…
a. For the deceitfulness of sin is just as strong today
b. For the hardening of one’s heart is just as dangerous today
c. For departing from God is just as possible today
— Thus the potential for falling short of our promised rest is just
as much a reality for us as it proved to be for the Israelites in
3. That is why we need to "exhort one another daily"…
a. To encourage one another to remain strong in faith – He 3:19
b. To encourage one another to remain strong in obedience – He 3:18
— Have you exhorted your brother or sister lately?
Finally, did you notice how "faith" and "obedience" were used
interchangeably in these last two verses? These terms are not opposed
to one another, for in fact Paul himself wrote about "obedience to the faith"
(Ro 1:5; Heb 16:26). Faith is dead unless there is obedience (Ja 2:17,
He 3:26). Those who truly believe will obey.