Wednesday, March 31 2021
Contributor: Alex Kokobili
The previous lesson reminded us about the efficacy of God’s Word with a description of the validity of its power. In Hebrew 4:12-13, we learned that God’s word is not dormant or idle but it is LIVING and ACTIVE. This means the Word of God is not a semantical lexicon or linguistic expression but the Word of Life. The Word of God has been in action from the beginning of the creation of the heavens and earth, and this Word has the power to create, destroy and make alive. Christ our High Priest is the Word of God and it is through Him that all things exist (John 1:1-5). The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword is very on point because it has not lost the might or potency to fix anything whatsoever that exists on earth. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6) “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life). The sharper a sword is, the easier is it to pierce through a substance, but the word of God is sharper than the sharpest of metals. This tells us as long as we have Christ in us there is nothing that can hinder God’s ultimate plans for our lives because the word of God can locate all things and bring them under control.
Today, we are progressing in Hebrews 4:14-16 which will help us understand more about Jesus Christ as Word of God from previous verses with His identity as our Chief High Priest.
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passedthrough the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.”
The is an understanding of the revelation of Christ the great High Priest. From the start of this fourth chapter, we discovered the need to enter into God’s rest; which is the holiest of holies in His tabernacle. The High Priest usually has to lead God's people into His presence, but some failed to make it to his rest due to human imperfections or disobedience. We must never lose focus of Christ the great High Priest or else we will not finish the journey of faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). It is one thing to SEE that the High Priest became human like us and He is now making intercession for us at the right hand of the Father, BUT another thing is to also thrive to be in His presence. Many will see Him but will not behold Him. Christ passed through the heavens because He died and rose again and ascended through the clouds back to heaven, and now He is making intercession for us as the Great High Priest at the right hand of God (Romans 8: 34 “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ who died, yea rather, who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us). (Hebrews 7:24-25 “But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them”).
We must understand that for Christ to attain His position as the great Chief High Priest He offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins which no other human priest could in the weakness of their humanity (Hebrews 7:26-27). As we hold on to our confession in Him, we must be aware that Christ was once human like us and that He understands the struggles of humankind (Hebrews 4:15). This is why He wants us to look unto Him solely as the all in all for our salvation (Hebrews 12:1-2).
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with ourweaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."
Sympathy is a major characteristic of a priest, and you will now imagine that the Chief High Priest will be super compassionate than any human priest. The priest usually bears the reproach of the people and then makes an offering on their behalf before taking their request to God’s presence (Joel 2:17), and Hebrews 5:1-4) after making a similar sacrifice for his own sins. Leviticus 16:23-24 explained how the priest made a sacrifice himself and the people for atonement and the Old Testament has other similar examples signifying the duties of the priest. (“23, Then Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of meeting, shall take off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the Holy Place, and shall leave them there. 24, And he shall wash his body with water in a holy place, put on his garments, come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people, and make atonement for himself and for the people”).
However, we now have Christ the Chief High Priest who is faultless. He is able to save us to the uttermost no matter the level of condemnation (Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them”).
As believers, we must remember that John 3: 16 is not for a selected few but all humans and we must trust God for the salvation of all those around us including our enemies. It is the High Priest that saves and your anointing cannot save anyone except the sure mercies of God.
The prayer of mercy or compassion is very powerful, and Christ never stopped interceding for humankind till today.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we mayobtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Let us come means you and I must break that barrier and move over to Him. If you don’t come to Him and ask for help to live according to His will, then you can consider yourself on a self mission without any eternal hope.
Once you come to Him, you have to admit that you need the Chief High Priest to make intercession for you. Some people pretend as if all is well, even when they are in the well of calamity. Do you need help in your Christian life? career, family, studies, church projects, etc.? Talk to God about it because by strength shall no man prevail (1 Samuel 2:9B), and if we cover our sin we shall no prosper (Proverbs 28:13).
Coming to Him in boldness is not because you are foolish, but a sign of surrender, and you will meet Him at the throne of GRACE. Hallelujah! This is awesome, the throne of grace is better than the place of destruction or judgment, and in this throne of GRACE, the compassion of the Lord kicks in to prevail in MERCY over our weaknesses and also to help us to overcome life battles from time to time.
Draw unto God now that He is near and let God take full charge as the High Priest over the affairs of your life (James 4: 8 “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded”).
The role of the priest is not to condemn people but to direct people to God which is what saw in the Old Testament with the human priest and now the High Priest in the New Testament does not only direct people to God, but He is able to save them to the uttermost.
Wednesday, March 24 2021
Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai
In last week’s study titled “Promised Rest for God’s People”, we looked at some hindrances to entering into God's rest and why we must enter God’s rest. We also learnt that the rest is based on God’s word. (Isaiah 26:3-4 & Psalm 37:23) and that this promised rest is a “live promise”. Today we will be considering just two verses of chapter 4; verses 12 and 13.
TEXT: “For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart. “And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, and revealed to the eyes of Him with whom we have to give account.” Heb. 4:12–13 (AMP) Emphasis mine
In these two verses, we will consider five things the writer asserted about the Word of God.
1. God’s Word Is Living
Describing the Word of God as “living” implies that the Word of God is alive and current; and exists as a dynamic force with which the world must reckon. God’s revelation still speaks to our current needs and situation. That is why the writer often quotes Scripture by saying, “He says” (Heb. 1:5; 2:11-12), or “The Holy Spirit says” (3:7). Even though the Bible was written many centuries ago, the Spirit of God still speaks directly to us through it. It is never out of date or irrelevant. It speaks to the very issues that we face in our modern world. In addition, God is the living God (3:12), and His Word cannot be separated from Him, that makes His Word a living Word; that can never be exterminated. As Isaiah 40:8 proclaims, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”
Finally, as the Author of life, His living Word imparts life in three ways.
a) God’s Word Imparts New Life to Dead Sinners.
Eph. 2:1, tells us that we were all dead in trespasses and sins, and alienated from God. “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Just as a corpse cannot revive itself to life, neither can an unbeliever revive his own spirit into new life. But God is pleased to use His Word to impart new life to dead sinners. James 1:18 states, “In the exercise of His will [not our will] He brought us forth by the word of truth …” 1 Peter 1:23 says, “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”
b) God’s Word Imparts Life onto the Dead.
The Word of God also imparts life to dead people. As we see in the case of Lazarus (John 11:43-44). Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:41), the Widow's Son (Luke 7:14), and Dorcas (Acts 9:40)
c) God’s Word Imparts Renewed Life to His Saints.
Jesus said in John 6:63b “The words I have spoken to you–they are full of the Spirit and life.” God uses His Word to renew and revive us. David wrote, “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul” (Ps. 19:7). The entire 176 verses of Psalm 119 talks of the benefits of God’s Word. Repeatedly the psalmist cries out, “My soul cleaves to the dust; revive me according to Your word” (119:25). “This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me” (119:50).
2. God’s Word Is Active
The English word “energy” takes its root from the Greek word translated as “active.” That God’s Word is active implies that it is operative, energizing, and effective. It accomplishes what God intends for it to do. Isaiah 55:10-11 states, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth out of My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” Emphasis mine
The same Word that at creation set the elements of the universe to their appointed tasks and still governs the universe toward God’s desired intentions (Heb. 1:2–3), has the ability to effect change in people. It is not static and passive but dynamic, interactive, and transforming as it interfaces with the people of God.
3. God’s Word Is Full of Power.
Jeremiah 23:29 says: “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?"
God’s Word is full of power! It was by His Words he created the universe; speaking its entirety into existence. (Genesis 1:3). Romans 4:17 says God gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did. God’s Word possess the following:
Power of Salvation to Save (Rom. 1:16), Power to Refute (2 Timothy 3:16), Power to Reproduce (Luke 8:11), Power to Re-Direct (1 Peter 2:25), Power to Reward (Hebrews 11:6) Power to Set Free (John 8:31-32), Power to Convict of Sin. (Acts 2:37), Power to Accomplish Purpose and Achieve Results (Isaiah 55:11), Power to Be Kept Pure (Psalm 119:9) and many more.
4. God’s Word Is Sharp and Penetrating.
The writer describes God’s Word as being sharper than any two-edged sword. A two-edged sword is one whose blade is sharpened on both sides. That means it is able to penetrate and cut in any direction; and therefore applicable in all situations; for blessing or curses (Psa. 1 & Deut.28), for edification, inspiration, instruction, or chastisement (2 Timothy 3:16), God’s Word is sharp and it cuts deeply, to the very core of our being. It can separate truth from error, eliminating the blurriness introduced by the devil; when he twists the truth and tries to blur the line between the truth and his lies (Matthew 4:1-11).
And finally, it reveals to us who we truly are by penetrating to the deepest parts of us; separating joints and marrow, soul and spirit. Unless a person’s conscience is hardened beyond remedy, there is no way they will read God’s Word or hear it preached faithfully without getting cut in the conscience. Acts 2:37 says: “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
5. God’s Word Judges the Thoughts and Intentions of the Heart.
Although in verse 13, the writer refers God Himself, and not the Word; as the One who sees everything; we cannot hide from Him (Adam and Eve tried to hide from God after they sinned, but they could not do it, and neither can we). And finally, that we have to give account to Him. Jeremiah 17: 9-10 asks rhetorically and provides the answer: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
Having said that, the Word of God also judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Jesus in John 12:48 says: “Those who reject me by not accepting what I say have a judge appointed for them. The words that I have spoken will judge them on the last day.” (GW) Emphasis mine
Psalms 8-19:7 NLT says: “The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.”
The Word of God is not only potent when spoken by Him, but also in our mouths. In Isaiah 59:21, God says He has put His Words in our mouths. Jesus asks us to “speak to the mountain” (Mark 11:23), Peter healed a lame man by speaking the Word (Acts 3: 6), Job 22:28 says when we decree a thing, it will be established.
Having realized the awesomeness of God’s Word, it is very important that we do not become hearers alone (James 1:22). Let’s put God’s Word to practice in our lives. Here is what Jesus said in Matt. 7:24-27 (MSG)
“24-25 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. 26-27 “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”
How do we work the word of God into our lives?
James 1:22-25 says: “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” Joshua 1:8 also says: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall read [and meditate on] it day and night, so that you may be careful to do [everything] in accordance with all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will be successful.” (AMP)
So we work God’s Word into our lives by (i) speaking, confessing and professing it (looking into the Word); (ii) reading and meditating on it day and night (continuing in it), and (iii) doing everything that is written in it (being a doer of the work).
It is not one out of three, but all of the three.
Parts of this study was culled from:
Wednesday, March 17 2021
Contributor: Esther Ikpe
In last week’s study titled “Consequences of Unbelief”, we learnt that unbelief was the reason why the Church in the Wilderness was excluded from the Promised Land. Today we will be considering the first 11 verses of Hebrews chapter 4 in this study titled Promised Rest for God’s People. A rest many of them missed out on.
VERSES 1-2: REST & FAITH
“For as long, then, as that promise of resting in him pulls us on to God’s goal for us, we need to be careful that we’re not disqualified. We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith." (MSG)
What Is Rest?
It is a profound peace that does not affect whether you are rich or poor, intelligent or unintelligent, black or white. It is a rest that heals and makes you whole. Rest and peace are synonymous. I will use both words here. It is a rest that calms your fears and gives you a sense of stability to face the future with confidence, regardless of what is happening around you.
It is not a rest from work—it’s a rest in work. It’s partnering with God to do what He is calling you to do by His grace, and leaving the part you can’t do in His hands, trusting Him to do it. Hebrews 4:3 says it this way: For we who have believed enter that rest…So we start by believing.
What Is Faith?
Faith is confidence in what we hope for and the assurance that the Lord is working, even though we cannot see it. Faith knows that no matter what the situation, in our lives or someone else’s, that the Lord is working in it.
The Hebrew word for faith is emunah which means “support.” Faith is “the Lord’s support” to us because we know God is working in every situation for his glory. Regardless of what we think, or see happening around us we hold on steadfastly to this knowledge and see things through the eyes of faith and not our own eyes.
VERSES 3-6: HINDRANCES TO ENTERING INTO GOD'S REST & WHAT IT MEANS TO CEASE FROM YOUR WORKS
"If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith. Remember that God said, Exasperated, I vowed, “They’ll never get where they’re going, never be able to sit down and rest.” God made that vow, even though he’d finished his part before the foundation of the world. Somewhere it’s written, “God rested the seventh day, having completed his work,” but in this other text he says, “They’ll never be able to sit down and rest.” So this promise has not yet been fulfilled. Those earlier ones never did get to the place of rest because they were disobedient." (MSG)
• Lack of faith in God's word, rejection and unbelief in His word.
• Lack of knowledge of God's word.
• Trying vs Trusting
• Hardening of heart (this could come from past disappointments failure of people in authority over you etc.)
• When we start depending on our own wisdom, intelligence and manipulation of events in whatever we do, we ought to rely wholly on the Lord.
• When we also become arrogant to think we are something due to our past success or promotions or God’s grace we are enjoying and play down God’s glory.
• When we fret and worry and are anxious, unable to relax or have peace, even we claim God is in control yet we find that we cannot release the reins to God for His will to be done in our lives. Even though we know we serve a living God who promised “never to leave us or forsake us:” “who also said: “no good thing will He deny those who walk uprightly.” 'Those who trust Him are not put to shame.’ We struggle
VERSES 7-11: WHY WE MUST ENTER INTO GOD’S REST
"God keeps renewing the promise and setting the date as today, just as he did in David’s psalm, centuries later than the original invitation: Today, please listen, don’t turn a deaf ear . . . And so this is still a live promise. It wasn’t canceled at the time of Joshua; otherwise, God wouldn’t keep renewing the appointment for “today.” The promise of “arrival” and “rest” is still there for God’s people. God himself is at rest. And at the end of the journey we’ll surely rest with God. So let’s keep at it and eventually arrive at the place of rest, not drop out through some sort of disobedience." (MSG)
• It gives rest that is profound and that involves all our faculty. It is a rest based on HIS WORD Isaiah 26:3&4. Psalm 37:23
• It is the opposite of "akatastatos"- meaning unstable and restless in Greek. This is when a person is always scheming, plotting; very unstable and restless to do their own thing in their own wisdom, for their own glory. God is not glorified in their lives. They boast about who they are and what they have achieved, forgetting without God, they will be nothing.
• The opposite of chaos
• God is Alpha and Omega. He knows the beginning of any matter and the end
• His thoughts towards us are thoughts of good and not of evil to bring us to an expected end
• He has finished the work even before the foundations of the earth.
• It is still a LIVE PROMISE
An Illustration of Rest
Taken from a short piece in a book by Madam Guyon, author of “Her Sole Crime Was That of Loving God,”
She was a French godly and rich woman unjustly imprisoned by the Catholic Church in the 17th century. They deprived her of everything -material possession and she suffered so
much. Despite all these, she was still at peace and joyful- her mind and body at rest. This is what she said in her prison cell:
“I shall not speak of that long persecution, which had made so much noise, for series of ten years imprisonments, in all sorts of prisons, and of a banishment almost as long, and not yet ended through crosses, calumnies, imaginable sorts of sufferings. While I was prisoner at Vincennes and Monsieur De La Reine examined me. I passed my time in great peace, content to pass the rest of my life there, if such were the will of God. I sang songs of joy, which the maid who served me learned by heart, as fast as I made them. We together sang thy praises, O my God. The stones of my prison looked in my eyes like rubies. I esteemed them more than all the gaudy brilliancies of a vain world. My heart was full of that joy which Thou givest to them who love Thee in the midst of there greatest crosses.” This kind of peace or rest does not emanate on bases of material opulence, or fame, or political ingenuity, or intellectual acumen, or other things that exalt humans. This kind of peace and rest can only come from a supernatural and divine God, who only can give this kind of rest through obedience to His word and love for Him through faith.”
When We Possess God's Rest:
• It eases the pain we bear daily
• It refreshes and relaxes our minds and bodies
• We are able to lay down in peace, instead of torn by inner struggles
We are able to operate our lives in peace and achieve our vision and goals Our minds are calm and restful, not rattled by anything because we have God's rest.
Parts of this study was culled from: https://joycemeyer.org/everydayanswers/ea-teachings/living-in-gods-rest
Wednesday, March 10 2021
Contributor: Martins Olubiyi
INTRODUCTION: Last week, we were warned against unbelief as we studied the Church in the Wilderness. They experienced the miraculous manifestation of God’s power, yet when the going was getting tough, they lost their focus. Today, we shall examine the consequences of their unbelief and disobedience to God’s instructions.
“For we [believers] have become partakers of Christ [sharing in all that the Messiah has for us], if only we hold firm our newborn confidence [which originally led us to Him] until the end,”
For, - enforcing the warning in Heb. 3:12.
Have become partakers of Christ/ We are made partakers of Christ, - means we are spiritually united to the Saviour. In other words, we become one with Him. John 15: 1-7; John 17:21, 23; Eph. 5: 30; 1Cor 12: 27. We partake of His Spirit and his apportionment. It is a union of feeling and affection, a union of principle, dependence and love.
If only we hold firm- hold fast, tenaciously
our newborn confidence – the believing confidence (our subsistence, our life) with which we began our Christian life Heb. 1: 3. We should maintain the same confidence which we had in the beginning, or which we showed at the commencement of our race that revealed true and strong attachment to our Redeemer.
Until the end- means to the final consummation. It is more than mere termination. It is the point into which the whole life of faith finally gathers itself up. Read Romans 6: 12; 2 Cor.11: 15; Phil 3: 19; Heb. 6: 8; 1 Pet 1: 9.
“while it is said, “Today [while there is still opportunity] if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart, as when they provoked Me [in the rebellion in the desert at Meribah]”
Do not harden your hearts / Harden not your hearts; by refusing to hearken to Christ.
In the provocation; when the Israelites provoked God. Numbers 14:2-11. It is evidently clear in this passage that the children of Israel could not persevere in believing in God’s gracious acts.
Reference to Numbers 14 is significant because it indicates that unbelief is not a lack of faith or trust. It is the refusal to believe God. It eventually culminated to a turning away from God in a deliberate act of rejection.
The point is that the provocation took place in the face of God’s great and wonderful deliverance. Their past experience of God should have reinforced their faith for the present. But because hardship came, instead of encouraging each other to trust their great God in the midst of their difficulties they looked at their present hardships and hardened their hearts, and encouraged each other to murmur. In spite of the wonders, they had previously seen in Egypt and at the Red Sea, they murmured against God. They revealed an evil heart of disbelief and disobedience, not a heart of trust and faith in God, resulting in faithfulness in
response. They demonstrated that instead of being caught up in love for God in view of what He had done for them, so that all else was seen in that light, they were just taken up with themselves and their own short-term advantage. Let anything go wrong and His past goodness was forgotten immediately. Is this not the same attitude we have in this last day? It becomes imperative for us to examine ourselves in the light of God’s word. The standard of God remains unchanged.
“For who were they who heard and yet provoked Him [with rebellious acts]? Was it not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses?”
When they had heard - Had heard God speaking to them, and giving them his commands.
Did provoke - Provoked Him to anger; It indicates that their conduct was such that incurred the anger or indignation.
Was it not all - The word ‘all’ here is not to be taken in the strict sense, it is often used to denote the great body; a large proportion; or vast multitudes, as it was used in Matthew 3:5, ‘Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan.’ Similarly, in John 3:26, ‘The same baptize, and all people came to him.’ Although many in the wilderness that heard the voice of God, provoked Him, yet not all (Number14:30 & 31). God always Has, and ever will reserve a remnant of faithful and undefiled souls unto Himself to bear witness by their faith and obedience, to maintain and keep up His own kingdom in the world.
“And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose dead bodies were scattered in the desert?”
But with whom was he grieved forty years? – The church in the Wilderness. They consist of leaders, fathers and others from above 20 years in age. Heb. 3: 8-10.
Was it not with them that had sinned – Those that had sinned in various ways - by rebellion, murmuring, unbelief. As God was angry with them for their sins, we have the same reason to conclude that he will be angry with us if we sin; and we should, therefore, be on our guard against that unbelief which would lead us to depart from Him; Heb. 3:12.
Whose carcasses fell … Numbers 14:29. That is, they all died, and their carcases were left in the desert. The whole generation were cut down along the way to Canaan. All of those who had seen the wonders that God had done in the land of Ham; who had been rescued in so remarkable a manner from oppression, were cut down, and died in the deserts through which they were passing; Numbers 26:64-65. Such an example of the effects of unbelief and disobedience against God. There example was well suited to admonish Christians in the time of the apostle, and for us now, so that we don’t end up in the wilderness.
“And to whom did He swear [an oath] that they would not enter His rest, but to those who disobeyed [those who would not listen to His word]?”
The book of Hebrew presents obedience and belief as key concept in our relationship with God. It affirms that even Christ was made perfect by it. (Hebrews 5:8,9). In vs 18, disobedience is the basis of God denying Israel the right to enter their promised land. The word ‘disobedience’ and ‘unbelief’ were used interchangeably by different versions. However, congregational murmuring at Kardeshbarnea (Numbers 14:11); unbelieve to sanctify the Lord at water of Meribah (Numbers 20: 12) prevented them to enter Canaan. It was not the sware of oath by God that prevented them, not want of strength to enable them, not deficiency of divine counsel to instruct them. All these they had in abundance. But they chose to sin, and would not believe. Unbelieve produced disobedience, and disobedience produced hardness of heart and blindness of mind. All these brought the judgements of God and eventually His wrath. Deut. 1: 26-32,.9: 23; Psalm 106: 24, 25; Ezekiel 20: 15-18
“So we see that they were not able to enter [into His rest-the promised land] because of unbelief and an unwillingness to trust God.”
God in His sovereignty never acts by any kind of whim or caprice; whenever He pours out His judgments, there are the most positive reasons to vindicate His conduct. 1 Sam 2: 3. Those whose carcasses fell in the wilderness were they who had sinned. And those who did not enter into his rest were those who believed not. Ezekiel 20: 15 -18. God is represented here as swearing that they should not enter in, in order to show the determinate nature of His purpose, the reason on which it was founded, and the height of the provocation that occasioned it. Rom 8: 5.
Consequences of unbelief- The church in the wilderness in perspective.
The Party grieved: God; The Parties grieving: The people of Israel; The time: forty-year period; The occasion of this grief: Sin in general, Unbelief in particular, Hardness of heart, & finally apostasy; The punishment of their sin: Their carcases fell in the wilderness.
Lesson 1: That sin is proper object of God’s displeasure, the only thing He is displeased with for Himself, and with the sinner for sin’s sake.
Lesson 2: That Public sins, or the sin of societies, are great, very great provocations unto God: It was not their personal and private sins that God was thus provoked, but for their confederacy in sinning.
Lesson 3: From their exemplary punishment, their carcases fell in the wilderness; that God sometimes makes men who have been wickedly exemplary in sin, to be righteously exemplary in punishment.
Lesson 4: That unbelief is the immediate root and cause of all provoking sins. Did men believe the happiness of Heaven, they would not neglect it; did they believe the torments of Hell, they would avoid them.
Lesson 5; That the oath of God is engaged against all unbelief, and no unbeliever shall enter into the rest of God. Heb. 3:19.
CONCLUSION:We should have seen from the testimony of the Church in the Wilderness that unbelief was the reason why they were excluded from the Promised Land. Let us who profess Christ be careful against indulgence of unbelief in our hearts. The beginning of murmuring commences when we lose confidence in God, and doubt His promises. Let us live a life of faith. Let us persevere to the end. Let us live in anticipation of our eternal rest with the Lord.
Wednesday, March 03 2021
Contributor: Okwudili Prince-Isaac
The backdrop centres around the rest promised by God to His people, and the dangers/consequences of disobedience and apostasy (the falling off from the faith), as cited from what God had declared through King David in Ps.95:7-11. We are encouraged to lovingly and caringly exhort each other daily and to take special care against “an evil heart of unbelief” so that sinning in whatever form will not harden our hearts. Because it is so easy to become like those people of old and repeat their mistakes, we must hold firmly onto the faith that we started out with.
SUB-THEMES (Verses 7-9)
“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 wilderness, 9 where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did.” (NIV)
In the verse preceding our Text (verse 6), the writer strongly admonished the Hebrews (Us) to “hold fast the confidence …firm unto the end”. The apostle proceeds in pressing upon them serious counsels and cautions; and he recites a passage out of Ps. 95:7 as an anchor for his exhortation.
3) REFERENCED EXAMPLES
4) GOD’S RIGHTEOUS JUDGEMENT
5) BE ON YOUR GUARD/WATCH OUT
1. COUNSEL: What he counsels them to do— be prompt and give present attention to the call of Christ. "Hear his voice, assent to, approve of, and consider, what God in Christ speaks unto you; apply it to yourselves with appropriate affections and single-mindedness. We ought to set about it in the present (i.e. this very day), for to-morrow it may be too late.’’
2. CAUTION: We are cautioned against—hardening our hearts, turning the deaf ear to the calls and counsels of Christ: "When he tells you of the evil of sin, the excellency of holiness, the necessity of receiving him by faith as your Saviour, do not shut your ear and heart against such a voice as this.’’ Take note that in this case, the hardening of our hearts give impetus to all our other sins.
3. REFERENCED EXAMPLES: Reference is made to that remarkable encounter at Massah Meribah, (Ex. 17:2-7) —that of the Israelites fathers in the wilderness. This incidence is commonly referred to as the Provocation and Day of Temptation. Take note:
a) Days of temptation are often days of provocation.
b) To provoke God, when he is trying us, and letting us see that we entirely depend andlive immediately upon him, is a provocation with a witness. Deut. 8:2-3
c) The sins of others (sins and punishments), especially our relations, should be awarning to us, to deter us from following their evil examples.
Pertinent observations on the experience of the Israelite believers;
1. Their state of transition should have restrained them from sinning seeing that theywere brought of bondage but (still) in the wilderness i.e. not yet in Canaan.
2. Their sin? They tempted and provoked God because they distrusted Him, wenton to murmured against Moses. Simply, they rejected the voice of God.
3. Their miraculous deliverance out of Egypt, and their day-to-day support and supplyin the wilderness stood to testify of God goodness: but notwithstanding, theysinned in the wilderness, and continued so for forty years.
4. The source and spring of such aggravated sins, were,
a. Error: heart-errors manifested on their lips and actions.
b. Ignorance: Even though He walked before them, God’s ways, his providenceand precepts remained unknown to them.
4. GOD’S RIGHTEOUS JUDGEMENT (Verses 10-11)
“10 That is why I was angry with that generation; 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.’” (NIV)
All sin, especially sin committed by God’s professing privileged people, does not only anger and affront God, but it grieves him.
a. Although the Lord greatly resented their sins, yet He exercised great patiencetowards them (v.10).
b. God is reluctant to destroy his people in or for their sin, he waits long to begracious to them.
c. God keeps an exact account sins and the ensuing grieves; ultimately, if thesesins continue to grieve the Spirit of God, these sins shall be made grievous to the sinner’s own spirits.
God passed an irreversible doom passed upon them at last. He swore in His wrath that they should not enter into His rest, (either of an earthly or of a heavenly Canaan).
a. Prolonged sinful behaviour will kindle the divine wrath, which will flame outagainst sinners.
b.God will swear in His wrath, (not rashly, but righteously). This wrath will be a righteous resolution to destroy the impenitent. No rest can be found under the wrath of God.
5. BE ON YOUR GUARD/WATCH OUT (Verses 12-13)
“12 See to it, brothers and sisters, 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.” (NIV)
We are given serious caution on verse. 12, verse. 13, etc.
a. Be circumspect! Take heed. "Be upon your guard against enemies both withinand without; You see what kept many of your forefathers out of Canaan, andmade their carcasses fall in the wilderness; take heed lest you fall into the samesin and snare and dreadful sentence”. We are reminded that in as much as Christis head of the church, (a much greater person than Moses) our contempt of him
must be a greater sin than the Israelite’ contempt of Moses.
b. The predicament of the Israelites should be a warning to us who came afterthem; and should serve as an example (1 Co. 10:11 ).
c. Again, take heed! "Brethren, not only in the flesh, but in the Lord; brethren whom I love, and for whose welfare I labour and long.’’ Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. We note here that (i) unbelief is evil and a great sin, it mars the heart of man. (ii) an evil heart of unbelief is at the bottom of all our sinful departures from God; it is a leading step to apostasy (iii) if once we allow ourselves to distrust God, we may soon desert him. (iv) Christians that ‘think they stand firm’ should take heed lest they fall.
d. A helpful remedy (in addition to the cautions): against this evil heart of unbelief— is to exhort one another daily, while it is called today, v. 13.
We must maximize ‘today’ and exhort one another daily, against the dangers of being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. The time is short and uncertain, since to-morrow is not guaranteed. There is a great deal of deceitfulness in sin; it appears fair, but is filthy; it appears pleasant, but is evil; it promises much, but performs nothing. It can so harden the soul that one sin allowed prepares way for another; every act of sin confirms the habit leading to searing of the conscience. Let us beware.