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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.

Verse 14
“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.

Verse 15
“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.

Verse 16
“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.

Verse 17
“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.

Verse 18
“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

Verse 19
“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.

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 02:14 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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