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  • Jul 28 / 2019
  • Comments Off on When you hear the Word of God, don’t harden your heart (Hebrews 3:7-19)
Hebrews: The Superiority of Christ, Pastor Heo, Sermons

When you hear the Word of God, don’t harden your heart (Hebrews 3:7-19)

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When you hear the Word of God…

Hebrews 3:7-19 (Pastor Heo)

Warning Against Unbelief

7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice,

8 do not harden your hearts

as you did in the rebellion,

during the time of testing in the desert,

9 where your fathers tested and tried me

and for forty years saw what I did.

10 That is why 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 declared on oath in my anger,

‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”

12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. 15 As has just been said:

“Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts

as you did in the rebellion.”

16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.


Can you say “Amen” to today’s word? The Word of God is food.

Our physical body needs food, also our spiritual body needs food.

Jesus: “I am the bread of life… Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Today’s food is not milk, but meat. Not soft, but solid.

For us to grow and mature and be stronger, sometimes we need hard, solid food and meat. Today’s food is very solid. Do you want to eat it?

Hebrews is a book of warning (yellow card). There are at least 5 exhortations and warnings.

chp 2:1 “Give more attention to what you have heard to not drift away.” (Warning: Neglect) – Don’t drift away without a target / purpose.

Today: second warning: (Warning: Doubt) – danger of mistrust. This is a very simple sentence, but a serious warning in our lives. No one can say, “I’m totally free from this warning.” Not even me.

It is possible to start well and end terribly.

In school, career, marriage, office, church life, etc – it is possible to start well (big celebration) and end poorly, shamefully. Even in the pastoral ministry, this is possible. I know this as well. So I must be careful all the time.

Starting well is good, but finishing well is MORE important.

Paul: “Be careful not to fall, when you think you are standing.”

Romans 15:4 “Everything written in the past was written to give us a lesson.” So that through endurance, patience, encouragement of the Scripture we might have hope.

Today’s example is Israel in the OT.

We are familiar with the story of Israel in the OT – esp. Exodus. The reason that story was written was to give us a lesson. We must learn from history.

In the whole history of earth, no migration of people has started so well – with such a great expectation. They’d experienced 10 great signs and wonders through Moses already. And on that final night, all Israelites were safe in their homes, but the Angel of Destruction struck down the first born of every household – man and animal. There was not a house in Egypt without someone dead. The bad king of Egypt called Moses and yelled, “GO! You are too much for us.”

Can you imagine this migration? 600,000 (about the population of Jeonju) men + women + children. This would be closer to 1.5 – 2 million (Gwangju?).

All these people and animals began this exodus by tribal divisions and they plundered the Egyptians. Many other people also joined in this exodus.

But in the desert, the day is so hot and the night so cold. So, God led them by day with a pillar of cloud, and by night with a pillar of fire. This was symbolic of “God with us” and also protection from heat and darkness and cold. Soon, they encountered the Red Sea.

Then, Pharaoh changed his mind and pursued Israel with his best chariots and army. Moses said, “Do not be afraid. God is fighting for us. The Egyptians we see now, we will never see again. We need only be still, and God will deliver us.”

Moses raised his staff and stretched his arm over the Red Sea. The sea parted in two and 2 million people, animals, and belongings all passed safely over on dry land. The Egyptians pursued them. Moses again stretched out his hand and the Red Sea returned to its original state. All the chariots and army were buried in the sea.

What a fabulous beginning! Soon, they would be in their Promised Land, Canaan. But then…

They began so well, but finished so shamefully – because of their doubt and rebellion against God continually.

When they arrived at the BORDER of Canaan, God said to Moses, “Send some men to research and explore that land.” This would be like a short-term vision / mission trip today.

Moses chose 12 assistant pastors (kind of) – one from each tribe, and sent them into the land with a mission: “To see” the land, towns, soil, people.

They explored for 40 days and returned to Moses and reported back. 10/12 gave a bad report of the place (negative). In front of God, negative word is bad, evil, wicked. “We cannot attack them, they are too strong for us. We look like grasshoppers compared to them.”

2/12 (Joshua and Caleb) gave a good report. “No, we can! If God is with us, who can be against us? That land was promised by God. God never breaks his promise. We can take that land.”

But, sorry to say, the bad report prevailed over the entire community of Israel. The entire community raised their voices and cried aloud and complained against Moses and against God – and tried to stone Joshua and Caleb. “Why did God bring us here?!” So, we must be careful with our speaking. “If only we had to die, is it better to die in this desert, or die in Egypt?”

God heard and said, “OK. I will do to you the very things you said.” They had explored for 40 days, but God let them wander for 40 years in the desert (1 year / day). They wandered until they all died – and their children wandered and suffered for their sins.

Remember, at departure 600,000 men departed? All of them died in the desert, except Joshua and Caleb.

This is a serious story. So the great lesson we must receive is: It is possible to start well and end terribly.

v. 7-10

“7 So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice,

8 do not harden your hearts

as you did in the rebellion,

during the time of testing in the desert,

9 where your fathers tested and tried me

and for forty years saw what I did.

10 That is why I was angry with that generation,

and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,

and they have not known my ways.’ “

God was angry. Yes, he is good all the time, and he loves us, but he can become angry because he is a person and he is holy.

One warning: TODAY (x3) do not harden your hearts.

  • v. 7 “Today…”
  • v. 13 “encourage one another daily as long as it is called today…”
  • v. 15 “Today…”

Today = while there is yet time.

While we can speak of “today” we must give our trust and obedience to God. For individuals, “today” means “while life lasts”. In Hebrew: “While you have the opportunity, give God full submission that you must give.”

Someday, my life will end. The sun will set on my life…

But we still have hope. There are great warnings here.

1. God makes man an offer (gift)

just like he offered the people of Israel the blessings of the Promised Land, so he offers us today the blessings of a life that is far beyond a life we can live without him.

But to receive the blessings of God, two things are necessary:

  1. Trust in Christ (“Do not let your hearts be troubled; trust in God, trust also in me.”)
    • We must believe that what he says is true.
  2. Obedience: absolutely necessary. Are you obeying the Word of God? All the time?
    • Imagine, a medical doctor says to a patient, “I can cure you if you obey my instructions…”
    • Or a teacher says to a student, “I’ll make you a scholar if you follow my instructions…”
    • A trainer says to an athlete, “I’ll make you a champion if you do not deviate from the instructions I lay down.”

In this world, success depends on obedience to the word of an expert.

God is THE Expert of the world, and provides joy with full obedience to his Word.

2. There is a limit

“There is a limit to my life.” (The duration of your life) – and we do not know when that duration will end.

We often speak so easily about tomorrow. “I’ll go there tomorrow…” but for us individually, someday “tomorrow” will never come – and nobody knows when and how that will happen. That’s why this is a warning and encouragement.

  • The blessing of God must be accepted TODAY!
  • And full trust and obedience to God must be given TODAY!
  • 2 Corinth “Now is the time of God’s favor; Now is the time of God’s grace…”

v. 11-19

“11 So I declared on oath in my anger,

‘They shall never enter my rest.’ “

12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. 15 As has just been said:

“Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts

as you did in the rebellion.”

16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter [the Promised Land], because of their unbelief. “

Theme of Hebrews: Superiority of Christ

  • Christ is superior to Moses
  • Jesus is much greater than Moses

The message is: If this is true, that Jesus is much greater than Moses, the loss in rejecting Christ is much greater than rejecting Moses’ word.

  • The loss of rebellion against Moses = 40 years wandering in the desert – not entering the Promised Land.
  • The loss of rebellion against Jesus = the loss of eternal life in heaven.

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so I must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in me may have eternal life.” (Jesus)

Jesus is our Passover Lamb.

John the Baptist introduced him as “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

The people of Israel in Egypt were delivered by the blood of the lamb during the Passover. This is a symbol of the believer in Christ – delivered from the slavery to sin through the blood of Christ.

“The blood of Christ purifies us from all unrighteousness.”

Because of their rebellion and distrust, they failed to enter God’s rest, but we (who believe in Christ) are able to enter his rest.

We are living “today”, not “tomorrow”.

Jesus “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I’ll give you rest.” This is the invitation of Christ. This is real rest, eternal, heavenly rest in Christ.

God bless us to enjoy his rest and peace.

Romans 15:4 “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us a lesson so that through the endurance, patience, and encouragement of the Scriptures, we may have hope.”

  • “Jesus is our hope!”
  • “Jesus is my hope!”

Let’s pray.

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Listen