Lesson #12 IC3a: Israel in the Wilderness
by John Lowe
Lesson #12 IC3a: Israel in the Wilderness (HEBREWS 3:6b-11)
Context: The context is the exodus from Egypt and the Israelites’ experience of unbelief in the wilderness. Because of their neglect to hear God’s message they delayed at the border. Because the people went backward in unbelief, instead of foreword in faith, they missed their inheritance and died in the wilderness.
6b “. . . And we are His house, if we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope of which we boast.
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:“Today, if you hear His voice,
8 do not harden your hearts, as you did in the rebellion, in the day of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your fathers tested and tried Me, and for forty years saw My works.
10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known My ways.’
11 So I swore on oath in My anger, ‘They shall never enter My rest.’”
I would like to begin this lesson a little differently. First, I will ask you some questions about past lessons to see if I am doing a good job of teaching and you are doing a good job of listening. And then I have a few questions from today’s lesson which will be answered in our Bible study.
In what ways did the writer of Hebrews affirm that Jesus and Moses were alike? (Heb. 3:2-
What does it mean to you to be part of the “house” which through inheritance belongs to Jesus?
In what matters did the writer of Hebrews affirm that Jesus was superior to Moses? (Heb. 3:2-6) How should you feel and act because of your inheritance?
Over what House was Moses faithful in the Old Testament? (Heb. 3:2, 5; Num.12:7) What determines whether someone who hears the gospel actually enters God’s rest? (Heb. 4:1-3)
Over what House was Jesus faithful in the New Testament? (Heb. 3:2, 5; Num. 12:7) How can reliance on God’s Word make your life more restful and peaceful?
(Heb. 3:6bR1) “. . . And we are His house, if we hold firmly to our confidenceR3 and the hope of which we boast.
“. . . And we are His house,”
We Christians are His Church house and family; he is our Father, Governor, and Head. We are now His Church house, and we will continue to be His Church house, and we will be acknowledged by Him if we maintain our Christian profession, that liberty of access to God, which we now have, and the rejoicing of the hope, i.e. of eternal life, which we will receive at the resurrection of the dead.
“if we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope of which we boast.”
The word, which is rendered here as “confidence,” and which signifies freedom of speech, liberty of access, etc., seems to be used to indicate an important Christian privilege. Under the Old Testament no man was permitted to draw near to God: even the very mountain on which God published His laws must not be touched by man or beast; and only the high priest was permitted to enter the holy of holies, and he could do so only once a year, on the great day of atonement; and even then he must have the blood of the victim to appease the Divine justice. Under the Christian dispensation the way to the holiest places is now open to all those who have faith in Jesus; and we have liberty of access, even to the holiest places, by the blood of Jesus. Having such access unto God, by such a Mediator, we may obtain all that grace which is necessary to fit us for eternal glory; and, having the witness of His Spirit in our heart, we have a well grounded hope of endless happiness, and revel in the enjoyment of that hope of our hope. But if we do not retain the grace, we will not inherit the glory. Since all the good things we desire lie in our hopes, we ought to “hold firmly” to our hopes and get ready to rejoice, as though our hopes were already realized.
A leading object of this Epistle is to guard those to whom it was addressed against the danger of apostasyR2. Hence, this is introduced on all suitable occasions, and the apostle here says, that the only evidence which they could have that they belonged to the family of Christ, would be that they held fast the “confidence” which they had unto the end. If they did not do that, it would demonstrate that they never belonged to His family, for evidence of having belonged to his household was to be furnished only by perseverance to the end.
His point is clear: Jesus is faithful to God. We demonstrate that we are the people He has chosen if we also prove to be faithful. This calls for courage in a hostile world. It demands that we “hold firmly” to our hope of being the people whom Jesus does not blush to call His brothers and sisters - “For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11 (KJV).
The expression “hold firmly” refers to our continuation in faith which is proof of its reality in our lives. The passage is not saying that you have to continue, to hold on, in order to be saved, rather, the fact that you do continue, you do hold on and are faithful to the Lord, is an evidence, a proof, that you are saved. The writer is not saying that we, as Christians, must keep ourselves saved. Rather, the writer is affirming that those who hold firmly to their confidence and hope are proving that they are truly born again.
Christ is not a servant. To the whole household or family of God He sustains the same relation which a son and heir in a family does to the household. That relation is far different from that of a servant. Moses was the latter; Christ was the former. To God He sustained the relation of a Son, and recognized Him as His Father, and sought in all things to do His will; but over the whole family of God - the entire Church of all dispensations - He was like a son over the affairs of a family. Compared with the condition of a servant, Christ is as much superior to Moses as a son and heir is to the condition of a servant. A servant owns nothing; is heir to nothing; has no authority, and no right to control anything, and is himself wholly at the will of another. A son is the heir of all; has a potential right to all; and is looked up to by all with respect. But the idea here is not merely that Christ is a son; it is that as a son He is placed over all the arrangements of the household, and is one to whom all is entrusted as if it were his own.
(Heb. 3:7) Therefore, as the Holy SpiritR4 says: “TodayR5, if you hear obediently His voice of grace,
Verses 7-11 could have been quoted from Psalm 95:7-11, with some slight modifications. Psalm 95 shows that God created a rest for His faithful followers to enter (3:11). But the Israelites, who were repeatedly unfaithful in their Exodus journey, were excluded from entering into it (3:16-19). Yet that rest was part of God’s creation, and it remains for those who are faithful to Him to enter (4:1-6).
“Therefore,” take warning from the fate of Israel, “as the Holy Spirit says.” In view of the fact that the author of the Christian dispensation (Jesus Christ) has a rank far superior to that of Moses, because Christ has claims on us far greater than those which Moses had, let us give our attention to what He says and dread His displeasure. The words quoted are found in Psalm 95:7-11. There David exhorts his brethren to learn a lesson from Israel in the wilderness, and not to provoke God. The directive given here is, “To-day at that very time, now, if you will hear his voice.” God wishes us to hear Him today, and every day, forever―today, not tomorrow.
“As the Holy Spirit says” in Psalms 95:7-11. This is more than enough proof that, in the estimation of the author of this epistle, the writer of this Psalm was inspired. The Holy Spirit speaks through the word which he has revealed. The apostle quotes this passage, and applies it to those whom he addressed, because the warning was as pertinent and important under the Christian dispensation as it was under the Jewish. The danger of hardening the heart by neglecting to hear his voice was as great, and the consequences would be as fearful and alarming. We should regard the solemn warnings in the Old Testament against sin, and against the danger of apostasy, as being addressed to us by the Holy Spirit. They are as applicable to us as they were to those to whom they were at first addressed; and we need all the influence of such appeals, to keep us from apostasyR2.
Dear readers, take a warning from the fate of Israel, “as the Holy Spirit says.” The words quoted are found in Psalm 95:7-11. There David urges his brethren to learn a lesson from Israel in the wilderness, and do not provoke God. To-day, and forever, God wishes us to hear Him, to-day, not to-morrow.