We continue our heart challenging reading of the letter to the Hebrews – ch’s 3, 4 & 5. Ch. 3 draws a contrast – between Moses and Christ. ‘Grace’ is not an Old Testament word: in contrast, says God, the people he brought out of Egypt and who “saw my works for forty years” … hardened their hearts.
“Today” this letter to the Jews tells them “do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test…” [v.8 & 9] What is a ‘hardened’ heart? We only have to look at the attitude of the religious leaders to Jesus to understand the answer!
The writer (Paul?) takes his readers to a quotation from Psalm 95; his quotation begins, “Today, if you hear his voice” [v.7] We can – and must – see this as a message preserved for us! ‘Today, if you read his words.’! Our world, especially now in the 21st Century, is full of hardened hearts, nearly all have closed their eyes to his word – to any realization that an all-seeing all-knowing Creator exists.
This Psalm is further quoted as saying, “they have not known my ways.’ … They shall not enter my rest.’ [v.10,11]. Then in v.15 this Psalm is quoted again, ” “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” And the writer (Paul?) adds, For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses?” [v.16] What wonders they witnessed! What wonders we are able to witness today – especially the many varied wonders of creation in all parts of the world.
Are we in danger of rebelling? How many are doing so? May we do the opposite, instead, as we read at the end of ch. 4 ” Let us…with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” What a wonderful – encouraging – inspiring word – the word “grace” is. It is often defined as the ‘unmerited forgiveness of God’ toward genuinely repentant sinners. Sadly, some live as though grace is ‘endless’ – unlimited! How dangerous that attitude can be – it can lead us to being overcome by evil!
Paul told the Romans “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” [12 v.21} When we have overcome – we have had heart-felt thankfulness that there is “grace to help in time of need.” We must be ‘overcomers’ in this godless world, our faith must be a ‘living’ faith’ – not just an intellectual one!
Virtually the last words of the Apostle John who appears to have outlived all the other disciples – is ” everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” [1 John 5 v.4] Let us make sure we have a heartfelt active faith which we put to use every day.
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