"But Christ was faithful as a Son over His house--
whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence
and the boast of our hope firm until the end.
Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,
'Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me,
as in the day of trial in the wilderness,"
where your fathers tried Me by testing Me,
And saw My works for forty years..."
We will back up, then crash forward only to jerk to a stop.
Eventually we will get going again.
We are His house,
if we hold fast our confidence, boldness,
and the boast of our hope.
Christ is faithful in His house. So if there is a problem, it is not Him. So what are we to do? Be faithful too by holding tightly to our confidence keeping our hope firm. These words are to those Hebrews who were on the verge of doing the opposite, losing confidence and hope.
So the author of the book of Hebrews takes them on a little history lesson:
He quotes Psalm 95 verses 7-11.
The part not repeated in Hebrews is verse 7...
"For He is our God
And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand.
Today if you would hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts..."
These are the words of the Psalmist speaking of the Shepherd to His sheep,
not just deaf sheep, but those who purposefully turn their hearing aids off,
who harden their hearts pretending they did not hear His voice.
These words are a reminder of Whose they are
and a warning of what they had to lose.
"The words strongly imply, as indeed does the whole epistle, the possibility of falling from the grace of God, and perishing everlastingly...why should He exhort a believer to persevere, if it be impossible for him to fall away?...Angels fell--Adam fell--Solomon fell--and multitudes of believers have fallen, and, for aught we know, rose no more." (Adam Clarke)
Here's the history lesson to these Hebrews:
1. The Israelites provoked God first in the wilderness of Sin when they murmured for want of bread, and had the manna given them (Exodus 16:4)
2. From the wilderness of Sin they journeyed to...where they provoked God a second time for want of water, and insolently saying, 'Is the Lord God among us or not? (Exodus 17:2-9)
3. They went into the wilderness of Sinai, where they received the law, in the beginning of the third year from their coming out of Egypt. Here they provoked God again, by making the golden calf, (Exodus 32:10).
4. After the law was given they were commanded to go directly to Canaan, and take possession of the promised land, 'God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount: turn you, and take your journey, and go the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh there unto...'The Israelites, having received this order, departed from Horeb, and went forward three days' journey, (Numbers 10:33), till they came to Taberah (Numbers 11:3) where they provoked God the fourth time, by murmuring for want of flesh to eat; and for that sin they were smitten with a very great plague; this place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who lusted.
5. Their journey from Horeb to Kadesh is thus described by Moses...'And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the Lord our God doth give unto us. Behold, the Lord thy God doth give unto us. Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee; go up and possess it.' But the people proposed to Moses to send spies, to bring them an account of the land, and of its inhabitants. These after forty days returned to Kadesh and except Caleb and Joshua, they all agreed in bringing an evil report of the land (Numbers 13:25-32); whereby the people were so discouraged that they refused to go up, and proposed to make a captain, and return to Egypt (Numbers 14:4). Wherefore, having thus shown an absolute disbelief of God's promises, and an utter distrust of His power, He are that not one of that generation should enter Canaan, except Caleb and Joshua, but should all die in the wilderness, and ordered them to turn and get into the wilderness, by the way of the Red Sea. In that wilderness the Israelites, as Moses informs us, sojourned thirty-eight years...Wherefore, although the Israelites provoked God to wrath, from the day they came out of the land of Egypt until their arrival in Canaan, as Moses told them, (Deut. 9:7), their greatest provocation, the provocation in which they showed the greatest of evil disposition, undoubtedly was their refusing to do into Canaan from Kadesh. It was therefore very properly termed the bitter provocation, the day of temptation,...and justly brought on them the oath of God, excluding them from His rest in Canaan." (Adam Clarke)
One of our favorite dogs was JJ, a mini-wiener dog. There was only a little problem in that, ignoring us calling her back, she would dart out the door whenever she got the chance to run and find a steaming pile of poop to roll in. Oh what humiliation to have the neighbor retrieve her time and again from his backyard to hand her over reeking.
Another escape, another bath had to be given to restore her to the privileges of the house. Bad dog! The problem was, each time she went her own way out of our care and safety, she ran the risk of no return by way of becoming lost or eaten by a larger beast. Do you get the picture?
Don't be like JJ.
Instead we should be a good sheep and listen to our Shepherd's voice.