Hebrews 3:13-19

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

UNBELIEVERS CANNOT ENTER GOD’S REST

INTRODUCTION:

 

So far in our study of Hebrews we have seen that Christ is superior to the angels.

 

We are in the process of seeing that Christ is worthy of more glory than Moses. This extends from 3:1 - 4:13. So far, we have seen that Christ is the Apostle and High Priest of our confession (3:1) and that Moses was faithful as a servant in God’s house; whereas, Christ was faithful as a son over God’s house (3:2-6), and we are in the process of seeing that the unbelief of some Israelites was clearly demonstrated (3:7-19).

 

Before we begin our study in this message in Hebrews 3:13 , I want to remind you of Hebrews 3:6 , 7, and 13.

 

Hebrews 3:6 But Christ [supply was faithful] as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

 

Hebrews 3:7 Wherefore. . . .

 

Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

We see that –

    I.     WE SHOULD BE ENCOURAGING PROFESSING BELIEVERS IN ORDER THAT NONE OF THEM HAVE AN EVIL HEART OF UNBELIEF IN DEPARTING FROM THE LIVING GOD – 3:13

 

Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

 

Verse 13 is in strong contrast to verse 12 as is indicated by but.

 

Verse 12 provides a warning, indicating what the readers should not do; whereas, verse 13 is a command, indicating what the readers should do.

 

Exhort is a command whose tense indicates that this is an activity which should be going on continuously or repeatedly. It means be encouraging or be exhorting.

 

The ones they should be exhorting are one another and suggests that believers should be exhorting or encouraging their fellow believers.

 

Daily suggests day by day or every day.

 

While is as long as.

 

It is called To day suggests as long as God permits.

 

To day was the time that the Psalmist wrote to his readers that they should not harden their hearts. As long as these people are given opportunity to repent, it is still today. However, when the opportunity is no longer available to them, as happened with the ones in the wilderness who provoked God and to whom He ultimately swore in His wrath that they would never enter His rest, at that point in time their today ceased. It ended. Their opportunity for repentance was over, and they were not given another opportunity. The readers are thus warned to take care of this now while they have opportunity.

 

Thus, while it is called To day suggests as long as it is called today, as long as today lasts, or as long as it is today.

 

Lest introduces a negative purpose which provides the reason the readers should exhort one another daily. Lest suggests in order that something not happen.

 

Any of you is indefinite but could include any of the readers. It specifically refers to any of the readers who are guilty of unbelief.

 

As in verse 12, it is instructive that the writer writes any of you rather than any of us. He does not include himself in the warning. There is no hint here that anyone may lose his salvation. The writer was in no danger of losing his salvation. There might be some of his readers, however, who had never yet placed their trust in Christ. It was to this group that he addressed his remarks.

 

Be hardened is become hardened. It may also suggest harden yourselves.

 

Through the deceitfulness of sin is by the deceitfulness of sin or by the deception of sin. It indicates that sin deceives people.

 

One cannot help but be reminded of Jeremiah 17:9 , The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? Of course, this is true because of the old sin nature.

 

Here, however, the Greek text has the before sin; so, it is best to understand the reference to sin here as being the particular sin of unbelief referred to in the previous verse as the evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.

 

One cannot help but be reminded of the sin which doth so easily beset us in Hebrews 12:1 , which is also best understood as being the evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.

 

Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us (i.e. the evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God), and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.

 

One is also reminded of Hebrews 10:35-39 ,

 

Hebrews 10:35-39 – (35) Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. (36) For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (37) For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. (38) Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. (39) But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

 

The sin referred to in Hebrews 3:13 is this same sin referred to in Hebrews 10:39 as drawing back unto perdition rather than believing to the saving of the soul.

Next, we see that –

  II.     WE WHO ARE GENUINELY SAVED WILL HOLD THE BEGINNING OF OUR CONFIDENCE STEADFAST UNTO THE END – 3:14

 

Hebrews 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.

 

Verse 14 is reminiscent of verse 6; and it is given in explanation of what has been written in verses 7-13 as is indicated by for, which is used in the sense of now.

 

We are made is we have been made or we have become. Its tense indicates an activity which occurred at some time in the past, the result of which has continued on. Thus, it is indicating a present state of being. It is something that is true now because it was taken care of in the past. It was not always true, however, because it had a beginning.

 

What we have become is partakers of Christ.

 

Partakers is sharers or participants of Christ, i.e. sharers (or participants) in Messiah, in God’s Anointed One.

 

As in verse 6, if introduces a condition which may or may not be so. Also, as in verse 6, the if has an intensifying particle attached to it so that it is to be understood in the sense of if indeed, if only, or supposing that.

 

This condition is if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end, and its conclusion is we are made partakers of Christ. Ordinarily, the condition comes before the conclusion; but when the writer wishes to emphasize the conclusion, he reverses the order. This emphasis has been retained in the King James translation.

 

If we hold is if we hold fast, if we retain, if we retain faithfully, or if we keep. The same phrase in the Greek text was translated if we hold fast in verse 6.

 

What we hold fast is the beginning of our confidence, i.e. the origin of our confidence, the beginning of our assurance, the beginning of our steadfastness, or the beginning of our conviction. It suggests our original confidence. It refers to the writer’s and readers’ trust in Christ. It refers to the absolute confidence these professing believers had in Christ before their faith began to waver.

 

Confidence means assurance, steadfastness, or conviction and suggests the basis on which the writer’s and readers’ conviction rests.

 

Stedfast means in a firm manner, dependable, or certain.

 

Unto the end suggests forever or through all eternity.

 

Thus, this verse indicates that, on the condition that these persons professing salvation hold fast the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end, then (at some time in the past) they have become partakers of Christ.

 

If the condition, however, is not met so that they do not hold the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end, then the result also does not occur.

 

In this case, they have not (at some time in the past) become partakers of Christ.

 

The tense of are made is thus significant. It is not teaching that genuinely saved people might lose the salvation which they have. If this were true, then we are made would of necessity have been a future tense rather than a past tense. It would have to say we will be made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end. This would then imply that one’s ultimate salvation would become dependent upon his holding the beginning of his confidence firm unto the end, which would be a good work that he must do to gain salvation.

 

However, the text does not say this and does not mean this.

 

Thus, your holding the beginning of your confidence steadfast unto the end is not the condition for your being made a partaker of Christ, but the proof of it.

 

If you do not hold this confidence steadfast unto the end, then you have not yet become a partaker of Christ. In other words, you are still unsaved. The same truth is taught in verse 6.

 

In both cases continuing to trust Christ is the proof rather than the condition of salvation.

 

Thus, it is clear that these unbelievers in the wilderness were always unbelievers. They were not at one time believers who had stopped believing. They never believed in the first place. They had never yet really believed the gospel and trusted Christ as their Savior.

In addition we see that –

 III.     NOT ALL OF THE ISRAELITES AT KADESH-BARNEA PROVOKED GOD – 3:15-16

 

Hebrews 3:15-1615 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.

 

While it is said is while it is being said, and it indicates progressive action because what has been said in the past was written down. Thus, it is still there and is still being said.

 

What is being said is, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

 

This is an exact reference to what was said in the last half of verse 7 and the first half of verse 8 as quoted from Psalms 95 . The reason the reader is being reminded of what has already been written in verses 7 and 8 is to show in the following verses that not all the people who had come out of Egypt under Moses’ leadership had provoked God; it was only those who were unbelievers.

 

Hebrews 3:16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.

 

Verse 16 begins the writer’s application of the quotation from Psalms 95 for the benefit of his readers.

 

For is likely emphatic meaning indeed, in fact, or certainly rather than merely explanatory.

 

Some is indefinite as to its number, but it does not include all.

 

As translated, when they had heard indicates time in the sense of after they had heard, but it may instead indicate concession in the sense of although they had heard. These persons had heard God’s voice, and they had seen His miraculous works. In spite of these things, however, they rebelled against Him.

 

Did provoke is became disobedient or became rebellious. This is the verb form of the noun translated provocation in verse 8 and again in verse 15.

 

Howbeit indicates a strong contrast and is a word ordinarily translated but and means nevertheless.

 

Not all that came out of Egypt by Moses indicates that not everyone who came out of Egypt at the time of the exodus and under the leadership of Moses provoked God to wrath. Only some of them did. Certainly, it was a great number, but there were many who did not provoke God. It was only those who were twenty years old or older, except for Joshua, Caleb, Moses, and Aaron.

 

Those who came out of Egypt refers to the Israelites of the exodus from Egypt.

 

By Moses is by means of Moses and implies under the leadership of Moses.

Moreover, we see that –

 IV.     AT KADESH-BARNEA GOD WAS GRIEVED ONLY WITH THOSE WHO SINNED – 3:17

 

Hebrews 3:17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?

 

Verse 16 indicates that God was not provoked to anger by all of the Israelites but only by some of them.

 

The question naturally arises, With whom was he [i.e. God] grieved these forty years? Verse 17 is written in order to clarify the thinking of the readers on this matter.

 

But may indicate a contrast, or it may indicate a continuation of the thought and be understood in the sense of now.

 

With whom was he [i.e. God] grieved? is with whom was He angry?, with whom was He offended?, or with whom was He provoked?

 

Grieved is the same word used in verse 10, meaning angry, provoked, or offended.

 

Forty years, as in verse 10, indicates an extent of time and means throughout forty years. Its case indicates that there was never a time during those forty years when God was not grieved with them.

 

There follows an answer to this question, and it is in the form of another question which expects a positive answer.

 

Was it not with them?, therefore, suggests it was with them, wasn’t it? Yes, it was.

 

By them the writer means those that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness. In particular, the sin referred to is the sin at Kadesh-barnea, where the Israelites rebelled against Moses’ leadership because they preferred the report of the ten spies who said that Israel should not go up to possess the land to the report of the two spies who said that Israel should go up at once and possess the land. These people then wanted to kill Moses and Aaron and return to Egypt.

 

Whose carcases fell in the wilderness indicates that these people died in the wilderness.

 

Carcases is dead bodies or corpses.

 

In the wilderness suggests in the desert in contrast to a cultivated, inhabited country.

 

It was with this group of people that God was grieved throughout forty years; but it was not with those who were under twenty years of age or with Joshua, Caleb, Moses, or Aaron.

Finally, we see that –

   V.     THOSE WHO SINNED AT KADESH-BARNEA COULD NOT ENTER THE PROMISED LAND BECAUSE OF THEIR UNBELIEF – 3:18-19

 

Hebrews 3:18-1918 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

 

Verse 18 is parallel to verse 17 and indicates a continuation of the thought of verse 17 as is indicated by and.

 

Sware is the same word used in verse 11, meaning swore an oath or took an oath.

 

What God swore was, They shall not enter into my rest.

 

To whom did God swear this? It was to those who had provoked Him in the wilderness.

 

He is God, and they refers to the ones who had provoked Him in the wilderness. Inasmuch as He swore that they should not enter His rest, they died in the wilderness and never made it into the promised land.

 

Now, who was this group? The answer is given by but to them that believed not.

 

But is if not or except.

 

To them that believed not is literally to them that disobeyed or to them who were disobedient.

 

Inasmuch as the supreme act of disobedience is a refusal to believe God’s word, disobey is frequently used in the sense of not believe, disbelieve, or be an unbeliever; and it is used in this sense in this verse. These people did not believe God and His word.

 

Hebrews 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

 

Verse 19 draws a summary from what has preceded: So is the word ordinarily translated and; but it is used in this verse in an emphatic sense as indeed, in fact, certainly, yea, or verily.

 

We see suggests something that is evident to us, i.e. to the writer and readers of the Book of Hebrews.

 

What we see is that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

 

They refers to the ones who provoked God in the wilderness.

 

Could not enter is were not able to enter.

 

What they could not enter was the promised land, and the reason they could not enter the promised land was because of unbelief.

 

Although they heard God as is indicated in verse 16, they did not believe what God told them. Therefore, they missed the opportunity of entering the promised land; and they died in the wilderness.

 

Similarly, the readers of Hebrews are being warned that there is a rest coming for the people of God. The people of God will someday be taken to heaven, but unbelievers will never get there.

 

The recipients of the Book of Hebrews need to make sure that they are believers rather than unbelievers and that, as a result, they will one day enjoy God’s eternal rest in heaven rather than eternal damnation in hell.

CONCLUSION:

 

Don’t be guilty of failing to trust Christ as your Savior. The Israelites could not enter the promised land because of their unbelief. Failure to believe the gospel message will result in your being cast into hell rather than in your being admitted into heaven.