I am saying “the” faith, and not just “faith”, is necessary for us to enter God’s rest. There are many faiths and religions in the world. Everyone believes in something: even atheists believe in what they believe. It is not enough, either, to say that “I believe in God”. Which God? Who is He? Yeshua asked if He would find the faith on the Earth when He comes again. (The definite article is in the original Greek of Lk 18:8 in both of the primary texts used today; but most translations seem not to have it for some odd reason.)
The Holy Spirit is speaking to us today, giving Israel’s history as an example for the Body of Messiah. That example in this chapter is a negative one: do not harden your hearts against God and rebel against His Word. Do not complain about everything, like Israel did on the way to the promised land: against Moses, against Aaron, against God. He was providing food, water, preserving their sandals, but, they wanted more and they wanted something else than what God was giving. Why this warning against hardening our hearts? Because He has shown Himself to be mighty and faithful on our behalf, according to His covenant. Why this warning? Because He has sworn in His wrath that those of His people who do not remain faithful to Him will not inherit the promises of His Kingdom. The word of Yeshua to us is to endure in the faith until the end. Brothers and sisters, the end is not that far off. Be patient; trust the Lord Jesus Christ; love Him more than even your own life; be faithful until the end. HE WILL HELP US IF WE LET HIM!
Also, we saw last week how that Yeshua is greater than Moses. Yeshua/Jesus gives Moses the honor that is his due, but Yeshua is the promised Prophet, King, Messiah, and Savior that Moses wrote about, and that God would require us to listen to. The Messiah of YHVH had/has the authority from God His Father to bring in some differences and changes to the Law of Moses, under the New Covenant. The Apostle Paul also said that he was not unfaithful to Moses or to the Torah, because Moses had written of things to come, which are only in practice and understood in the light of the gospel. When Moses and Elijah appeared with Yeshua on the mount of His transfiguration, they disappeared and only Yeshua was left; and the voice from Heaven to the disciples said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”
This is what we want to do: to hear and accept God’s word, and not to rebel against it. What are some examples that can cause us to harden our hearts against the Lord and His word?
–Pharaoh was a believer in his Egypt’s gods, and, in His pride, did not want to submit to the true God – YHVH, the God of the Hebrews, slaves in his own country. What kind of God is this that I need to hear Him!?
–The Israelis who went out of Egypt all saw the great works of God for them, but greater hardship came as well, which they adjusted to in fear and despair: Where is God?! What kind of God is this!?
–Jesus requires us to love Him above all, even more than our families, people, culture, friends, ourselves. A divided heart will harden against the Lord. (Mt 6:24) [This is another proof of Yeshua’s deity, since YHVH requires us to love Him above all. (Mt 22:35-40; Dt 6:4-5; Mt 10:32-40) If Yeshua/Jesus is not YHVH in the flesh, then He is dividing our hearts away from the true God, and would indeed be a false prophet and a blasphemer, deserving of death under the Torah. He is neither of these!] (Dt 13:1-11; 2Cor 11:1-4)
–The world is full of suffering and evil: Where is God? What kind of God is this?!
–How can God allow the Holocaust against His own people?! What kind of God is this!? I do not believe in God anymore! There is no God!
–Jesus requires us to forgive, and we do not want to.
We finished last week with verse 12, an admonition not to depart from the Living God. Let’s begin there today, and continue to Ch 4:1 :
v 12 an unbelieving evil heart will depart/apostasize from the Living God. Our God is not dead, nor is He irrevelant. Evil is opposition to the Creator and to His authority, to the truth and will of YHVH God. Apostasy is a departure from the truth, and therefore from the faith, and therefore from Jesus Himself as the Messiah, and from the truth of the Father and the Son. (Mt 16:15-18; 1Jn 2:20-25; Ps 2:1-3; Jn 5:18-23) And if we do not stop hardening our hearts, we will find ourselves speaking and acting against the truth, against the believers, against the Lord.
v 13 in these last days we want to encourage one another, exhort each other while it is still “today”, lest we be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Today is still the day of salvation, but the Day of God’s wrath is coming at the Day of YHVH, when it will be too late. Pharaoh hardened his heart, despite all the signs and the warnings and plagues from YHVH through Moses and Aaron. He would not heed the true God, and then God hardened Pharaoh’s heart as a judgment against him.
When is the point of no return, when our hearts have again become stone and incorrigible? God has given us a new heart of flesh; we need to guard it, and to always be teachable, and open to receive exhortation and correction and instruction in righteousness.
v 14-15 Why encourage and exhort one another? Because we have become partakers, companions of Messiah, if we maintain our confidence in Him until the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your heart as in the rebellion.”
Every day is ‘today’, until the last day, when Yeshua says that He will raise us up in the resurrection. (Jn 6:39-44) Every day we are to hear the Lord’s voice and not rebel against it, but to heed it and do it willingly. This is a heart after God.
v 16 All who came out of Egypt with Moses heard YHVH God speak, and all the adults (except for Joshua and Caleb) rebelled! This goes to show us that signs and wonders – miracles – alone are not enough to change our hearts to love the Father and the Son, and to want to always please them. We want the blessings that we receive, but we are not so willing to stay with Him when the way is hard, when we are suffering more and longer than we like. We need to learn to trust the Lord at all times, and to be in believing prayer at all times. God will test us, too, to humble us, to strengthen our faith, and to know that He is faithful and able to bring us through our troubles to the fulfillment. God is good, and worthy of our praises!
v 17 God was angry for 40 years with those who sinned against Him in the desert, and who tried to sway the delivered people to go back to Egypt, discouraging them from believing God to give the victory for entering the land which He had promised to give them as an inheritance and an everlasting possession.
We need to learn from this to fear the Lord, and not to test Him in our hardened hearts of unbelief.
v 18 Just because a length of time has gone by does not change His judgment against habitual unfaithfulness, especially if He has sworn that He will not. If we are unfaithful, we will not obey Him. God will not give us His peace and rest if we continue in our own way.
v 19 What is the root of disobedience? Unbelief. If I do not believe what God says, I will not obey Him. If I do not obey Him, I dishonor Him. My heart will be hardened, and I will not want to listen to His word. I will not love Him, nor be faithful to my Lord and Savior.
4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering God’s rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to come short of it.
Thank God that there is always a believing remnant among an unbelieving, unfaithful majority, whose hearts are not set on the God who saved us! The Father sent His beloved Son to die for every man, that whosoever should believe on Him should not perish but inherit eternal life. Let us be certain that we are among that holy remnant! It is an issue of the heart.
The Holy Spirit is encouraging believers to gladly persevere. He is warning those who are lukewarm, or who are “just going along for the ride”, to examine their hearts, for the Day of Judgment is near.
Difficulties in our lives give us opportunities to demonstrate that we have the faith, and to strengthen us in faith as we exercise it…until the end, until the last day. Then we will enter His rest forevermore. O happy day! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, January 30, 2023, and reposted with permission.