HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS
Hebrews 3:7-11 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known My ways. So I sware in My wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)
The verses previous to the lesson text, in this chapter, tell us that the house of Christ is His church and is made up of obedient Christians. It is in the church of Christ that the hope of eternal salvation is found. This hope is made available by God through His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, and is assured to those that hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end (Vs. 6). This verse warns us of the possibility of falling away from God's grace, abandoning His house, the body of Christ, and losing the salvation that is promised to His obedient children.
The writer of this epistle, to the Hebrew Christians, now gives us an example to further explain, and emphasize, the importance of this warning. Wherefore, that is, because of the extreme importance of the preceding teaching, all that hear or read these words are to give their complete attention to what is to follow. The remainder of the lesson text is substantially quoted from the Holy Ghost-inspired writer of Psalm 95:7-11. Using the same lesson that was taught to the children of Israel by the words of this Psalm, the writer of this epistle to the Hebrews makes the same application to God's Christian family. When God speaks to His people He wants them, and pleads with them, to hear His voice. And, as an additional warning, He wants you to, not only hear, but obey His commandments today - not tomorrow, next week, or when we get around to it, but hear His voice today! God loves His children now, at this very moment, and, in return, He expects His children to love Him today; not at some future time. When He gives us the commandment to repent of our sins, turn away from them, and obey His will, He is not speaking of some future time. He wants us to obey Him today; now - at this very moment of time. There is urgency for immediate obedience to every commandment given by God; tomorrow may be too late!
Here was the lesson originally intended for the Israelites. The same lesson, in this epistle, was applied to Hebrew Christians then, and, just as appropriately, applies to all Christians today. When God speaks to us through His prophets of old, through His Son, Jesus Christ, and through His inspired disciples that authored the New Testament, he wants all to hear His voice, and hear it today. He doesn't want us to be like the erring Israelites. He doesn't want us to alsoharden (our) hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years.
The heart of mankind, that is, our mental cappacity, can become hardened and unreceptive to instruction. To the hardened heart, God's voice will make no impression, and His commandments will go unheeded. The hard heart is like the one described by Paul to Timothy (1 Tim. 4:2); it is likened to a conscience seared with a hot iron - a mind that is numb and insensitive to God's word. Proverbs 28:14 describes the hardened heart as one that shall fall into mischief. To the Christians in Rome, Paul describes a hard heart as an impenitent heart - one that cannot recognize their sinful state, and the need for repentance (Rom. 2:5). Later on the writer of the Hebrew letter tells us that one can develop an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God, then tells us that this can take place when the heart becomes hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13).
The lesson text tells us that this is exactly what happened to the children of Israel on their journey to the land of Canaan. Because of their hard hearts, they provoked and tempted God with sin and murmuring. Therefore God punished them with forty years of wondering in the wilderness and disallowing most that came out of Egypt from entering into the "Promised Land" because of their unbelief (See following verses 12-19).
The lesson is summed up in verse 14 which, by inference, says that in order for Christians to partake of the "Promised Land" of heaven with Christ, we must not allow our hearts to become hardened to the voice of God, but must hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end - an unwavering commitment to God's will.