Hebrewsby Robert M. Solomon
The writer continues the themes of the earlier passage. He appeals to his readers to respond in faith and to remain with Christ. Persecution was tempting them to leave their Christian faith and return to Judaism. To do so was to repeat the same serious offence committed by their forefathers in the desert. We modern readers can also be tempted to turn away from Christ in favour of old priorities and sinful habits. The writer warns us to stay with Christ and ″hold our original conviction firmly to the very end″ (Hebrews 3:14; see Matthew 10:22; 24:13).
The ″sinful, unbelieving heart″ habitually ″turns away from the living God″ (Hebrews 3:12). We have to be on our guard and ″encourage one another daily″(v.13) to remain faithful to Christ. Experiences and victories of the past are important, but each day presents fresh challenges and opportunities for us to show our allegiance to Christ. The present is always ″today″ (v. 13, used eight times in Hebrews), and we must constantly guard our hearts, faith, and relationship with Christ by trusting and obeying Him.
All those Moses led out of Egypt (except for Joshua and Caleb) perished in the desert. Their ″bodies perished in the wilderness″ (Hebrews 3:17); with ″an average of almost ninety deaths a day″.13 It was a dreadful story of unbelief and disobedience, and its consequences. ″Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did,″ Paul appealed similarly to his readers (1 Corinthians 10:6). Even we today should not presume that external religious acts and membership in the church guarantee our salvation. What goes on inside us is far more important and determines whether we are really saved or not. We should be responsive to God in Christ and remain so.
Sin is deceitful (Hebrews 3:13) and if we give in to it repeatedly, we harden ourselves to God's grace and salvation. Sin ″attacks the individual″14-thus every person must examine his or her own faith. Sin and unbelief lock people away from God's Promised Land (His salvation in His eternal kingdom; v. 19). Dealing with sin opens the door to God's blessings.
13Stedman, Hebrews, 52.
14Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 95.
How can we keep our faith fresh such that we are found faithful and true to the Lord Jesus each moment and day? Is there anything tempting you to turn away from Christ? Pray to the Lord for guidance and strength.
Unbelief locks the door to God's salvation and blessings. How is unbelief related to disobedience (Hebrews 3:18-19)? What implication does this have for your present circumstances?