Do not harden your hearts.
Moses was a faithful leader in God’s house. With the Lord’s help, he liberated God’s people from the oppressive captivity of Egypt and led them safely to the wilderness where they were taught God’s Law. After enduring their wanderings and pleading on their behalf, Moses led them to the foot of the Promise Land, a land of rest.
Jesus was far greater than Moses. He invaded the world where His people were captive and liberated them from sin. All who hear Him and obey His call of repentance are led from this world to an eternal Promised Land where there is eternal rest. Jesus is calling His people to follow Him to freedom.
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.’” (Heb. 3:7-11)
In the following chapter, the writer of Hebrews will set our sights on the blessed rest that comes in and through Christ. But, before that, he sets our sights on the reality of not entering His rest — like the rebellious ones who came from Egypt.
Numbers recounts describes the rebellion in Israel, God’s house. “None of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness,” says God, “and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice” (Num. 14:22-23). Despite all the evidence of God’s goodness and affection for His people, they refused to believe Him. They refused to commit themselves to Him in faith.
His warning to the Jews, and to us today, is to “not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” For they saw the Lord’s “works for forty years” and still turned “astray in their heart” by not “knowing my ways.” So, they could not enter God’s blessed rest. Those who disbelieved God will not see His rest.
“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” (Heb. 3:16-19).
This is why we should “hear his voice” and “pay much closer attention” and “hold fast our confidence and our boasting” in Christ (Heb. 2:1; 3:6). He is the Superior One. The stakes are high. Eternity is in sight. God’s blessed rest is for those who believe and follow Christ in His liberation from sin.
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” There is no better way to say it. Hear Christ. Consider Christ. Believe Christ. Trust Christ. Then, you will enter His blessed rest.
This article was adapted from the study guide, Jesus: The Superior One, written by Jacob Abshire, Laura Jackson, Curtis Riddle, and Katie Van Dyke, and based on sermons by Nathan Lino, pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church.