Thursday after the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Posted on November 15, 2018 byunder
Scripture: Hebrews 3:7—4:13 (NKJV)
3:7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:
“Today, if you will hear His voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. 10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’ 11 So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.'” 12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
16 For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? 17 Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:
“So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,'”
although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”
6 Since therefore it remains that some must enter it, and those to whom it was first preached did not enter because of disobedience, 7 again He designates a certain day, saying in David, “Today,” after such a long time, as it has been said:
“Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”
8 For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Almost none of the Children of Israel who came out of Egypt entered the Promised Land, because they “did not obey…because of their unbelief.” Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God—specifically, the message of Christ. Those who were destroyed failed to “follow” or “be persuaded by” the Law and the Gospel.
These two verses explain the rest of today’s reading, even as they explain one another. God uses their wonderful parallelism so we understand even when a Bible translation isn’t perfect. Some translators use the words “obey” and “disobey” indiscriminately, leaving out some very important nuances in the words they’re translating. From the grossly illegitimate importation of “obey” in place of “keep” in Luke 11:28, to its unfortunate use instead of “heed” in Romans 10:16, such translators make Christianity seem like it is all about us and our outward performance of the Law. The word in Romans 10 actually has the nuance of “conform to the hearing of.” For an invitation/promise (like the Gospel) it indicates “to receive (and act upon) with confidence.” For a command, that would indicate “take it seriously and obey it.” The word in today’s reading is related to being convinced and following: they weren’t convinced, or didn’t believe or act as if they were.
We pray: O Holy Spirit, convict and convince us by Your Word that we do not act faithlessly; grant us to see our sin and our need for the rest that can be given only in our perfect Savior, so that we do not harden our hearts, but are ever persuaded by by Your Law and Gospel to flee from our sins to the Throne of Grace, living with confidence in Christ’s atonement. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.