Today

Date:
June 8, 2014
Text:
Hebrews 3:7-12

Therefore

  1. We start this new section as we have started many sections in Hebrews, with the word therefore. What should we tie this therefore back to.
    1. Every therefore implies a since or a because.
      1. Psalm 116:2 2Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. ESV
      2. Since we have confidence to enter, therefore let us draw near
      3. What is the since or the because that this therefore attaches itself to?
  2. Since Moses ...
    1. The therefore can be tied back with what immediately came before. Since, Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, therefore ...
    2. If the people in disobeying the mediated word of God that came through his servant Moses were given this warning, how much greater an infraction it would be for us to forsake the word of God that has come to us through his Son, Jesus. Therefore, today, if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts as they did.
  3. Since Jesus ...
    1. Remember, Paul is building a case and the whole structure of his argument is tied and linked together.
    2. The therefore is tied to everything that has come before, therefore, ...
      1. Because, God has spoken to us by his Son, the heir of all things, the radiance of the glory of God, the one who holds all things together
      2. Because, Jesus has made purification for sins and has sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high
      3. Because, Jesus has become superior to the angels and has inherited a more excellent name than theirs
      4. Because, Jesus has delivered a better message, a more excellent and reliable message than the one declared by angels
      5. Because, Jesus is the captain of our salvation and has been made perfect through suffering
      6. Because, Jesus suffered death that he might taste death for everyone
      7. Because, Jesus took on our nature and became our brother
      8. Because, Jesus in our nature trusted all to his Father while being tempted in every way that we are
      9. Because, Jesus has become our merciful and faithful high priest and as our priest has made propitiation for our sins
      10. Because, Jesus is superior to Moses as an apostle sent from God to build a better house than Moses ever could
      11. And because, we are that house, a house that God may dwell with man forever in, breaking down the dividing wall between us and him, that we might dwell in restored fellowship with God forever.
      12. Because of all of this, because of our superior Jesus, who is our superior prophet, our superior priest, and our superior king, therefore
  4. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts
  5. We see the same warning that we have already seen in Hebrews and the same warning that we will see again and again. Because of Jesus' surpassing superiority to all that has come before we have inherited greater blessing and greater warnings than all who have come before. Including the warning given to the Israelites quoted in Psalm 95.
  6. Paul is quoting David who is referencing the rebellion.

The rebellion

  1. The people of Israel, having been rescued from Egypt by the mighty hand of God. Having been given the law hearing the very voice of God at Sinai and seeing his glory there. Having been disciplined for the incident with the golden calves and seeing the awful consequences of disobedience. These people having completed their Exodus come to the next stage of their journey, what was to be the completion of it, the entering into the land which God had provided to them and the rest that he would afford them there.
  2. Consider this generation. What generation had more opportunity to obey then they did. Consider their advantages...
    1. This was a generation of slaves who cried out day and night for deliverance. 400 years of slavery in Egypt, they cry out to God and God hears their outcry and sends them a deliverer, to rescue them out of the hand of Pharaoh.
    2. They see 10 mighty miracles of God: water to blood; plagues of frogs, gnats, flies, and locusts; hail, darkness, and finally the work of the angel of death on the firstborn of Egypt.
    3. Upon leaving Egypt they are immediately trapped, and again are rescued by the mighty hand of God at the Red Sea. Crossing on dry ground and seeing the destruction of Egypt's armies.
    4. In the wilderness, they are daily fed and watered by yet more miracles. Mana from heaven, and water from the rock.
    5. Consider, this was a generation of slaves who cried out day and night for deliverance. Yet when deliverance came they liked it not. Can you imagine? 400 years of slavery and then deliverance, seeing the mighty miracles of God, being fed by him directly, watered by him directly. Kept safe from all dangers and harm. A cloud for direction by day and a pillar of fire by night. God himself meeting with the people on the mountain, and still, they liked not his salvation but grumbled and complained against it. How terrible and awful must God's salvation have been in their eyes to make it worse than their years of slavery. How much they must have loathed God to cherish Egypt in comparison to him. Is this not a great scorn of God and his provision: to see his mercy and grace as rubbish and trash, slavery and harsh treatment in Egypt being preferable?
    6. Who are you in light of this?
      1. We are apt to think that if we were there, we would have done better.
      2. What causes this kind of behavior is not situations, but men's hearts.
      3. The principle of men's disobedience is in themselves and in their own hearts. It is not outward circumstances, these only give a test so that what is in the heart can be made manifest. What is in your heart of hearts? Trust or distrust? Preferring God and his ways and rewards or preferring the world it's ways and rewards?
      4. I have a personal illustration of this in my own life.
  3. The gospel, the good news is not that God has set you so free from this heart of stone as to never be encumbered by it again and as a result of this, you have now become acceptable in his sight. This is not the good news at all. The gospel is that God loves you first. The good news is that God justifies sinners. God makes righteous in his sight the wicked. And then, and only thereafter, does he start the work of unburdening you of this heart. This work will someday be complete in every meaning of the word and you will stand before him with an undivided heart that knows nothing of wickedness or deceit.
  4. You are, so to speak, on your Exodus. You have left your Egypt, being rescued by the mighty work of God in your regeneration. And now you are being led, guided and carried by God himself towards his glorious rest that is provided to you in Christ Jesus. Press on. This is the message of Hebrews, and of our verses in particular. Press on towards his rest. Enter daily into it. There remains a Sabbath rest for you to enter into. Enter it today.

Today, if you Hear his voice

  1. How can David in Psalm 95 say "today, if you hear his voice"? And how can Paul repeat this Today, so long afterwards
  2. God had spoken to his people to enter into his rest. Hundreds of years after that generation had died, having completely failed to enter into God's rest, David quotes God and says, Today, God is speaking to his people still, if you hear his voice do not harden your hearts
The psalmist speaks to the people as if the voice of God were then sounding in their ears.
  1. A thousand years after David says "Today" Paul is able to say the same "Today" to the Hebrews. And now, thousands of years after Paul writes, I am yet still able to say to you in this room, today. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts
  2. The point is this: God's word continues to speak if you have ears to hear it.
  3. Have you ever heard him here? Has God spoken to you out of his word?
The psalmist, “after so long a season,” as the apostle speaks, calls the people to hear the voice of God, as it sounded on mount Sinai at the giving of the law. Not only the law itself, and the authority of God therein, but the manner also of its delivery, by the great and terrible voice of God, is to be regarded, as if God did still continue so to speak unto us. So also is it in respect of the gospel. In the first revelation of it God spake immediately “in the Son;” and a reverence of that speaking of God in Christ, of his voice in and by him, are we continually to maintain in our hearts.
So in the dispensation of the gospel he continues yet to speak from heaven, (Hebrews 12:25 25See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven). It is his voice and word unto us no less than it was when in his own person he spake on the earth
  1. God's voice thunders out of this book. Do you have ears to hear it?
  2. Can you hear him here? Today, today hear my voice, do not harden your hearts, do not be like that generation who refused my word, take me at my word and go, enter into my rest, despise the shame, press on towards what is ahead. I will be with you, I will not forsake you, this world will be mine my glory will cover the earth, and I will conquer through my people, now go and be that people, show the world who I am. Can you hear him thus speaking to you, or has his voice been drowned out in a sea of other voices.
  3. Today he says. Today. Can you hear the ponderous awful note that word rings.
  4. Today. Today. Today.
  5. There is something required of you this day. Will you comply with it or no? Will you be found like the rebellious generation who hardened their heart against God or will you hear his voice and obey and enter into his rest. Today you must decide, tomorrow is not promised to you and if tomorrow does come it will come with it's own "Today," but this very day you must decide, will this be a day where you hear the voice of God and submit to what he therein commands or will you not?
  6. Today, if you hear his voice. The next ponderous word. Spurgeon calls it a "dreadful if." God's word cuts like a two edged sword. Which side does this if divide you toward. Today if you hear his voice. Do you hear his voice or do you not? Can you hear the thundering voice of God or can you not. This is the dreadful if. If you hear his voice do not harden your heart.
  7. What does God want from us today? What does God require of us if we hear his voice?
It is an act of the whole soul, in understanding, choosing, and resolving to do, the will of God declared by his voice, that is intended.

Do not harden your hearts

  1. What is required of us positively, is not yet spoken. First, what is to be avoided.
  2. Do not:
    1. Harden your heart vs8
    2. Put God to the test vs9
    3. Go astray in your heart, by not knowing God's ways vs10
      1. This one is particularly interesting. To know God's ways is to walk in God's ways. All who know God put their trust in him. All who know God's ways walk in those ways. If you do not trust God, if you do not love him as your first love, it is merely because you do not know him as you ought. God is so wonderful that to know him IS to love him. Psa 9:10. Likewise God's ways are so wonderful, upright, peaceful, pleasing to the righteous, that all who know God's ways take their delight in those ways and walk in them. Only those who do not know God's ways fail to walk in them. This doctrine: shows us the wonderfulness of God, while revealing man's foolishness. What a wonderful doctrine that in one breath exalts our awesome God while casting all men into shame and reproach, for we all fall short of complying with his ways, and we do so because of this, we do not know his ways like we should.
    4. Psalm 9:10 10And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you. ESV
  3. This generation did not know God's ways. They went astray. They hardened their hearts, they put God to the test, and they went astray, not knowing God's ways.
the common sin of this wilderness people, they limited God, and said, Can he do this or that? Seldom it was that they believed beyond what they enjoyed. Here lay the main cause of their sin and ruin. They had a promise of entering into the land. They believed it not; and, as our apostle says, they “could not enter in because of unbelief.” The promise was to their nation, the posterity of Abraham; the accomplishment of it in their persons depended on their faith. Here was their trial. They believed not, but provoked God; and so perished.
When men disbelieve plain and direct promises merely on the account of the difficulties that lie against their accomplishment. This reflects unspeakable dishonour on the veracity and power of God

A Generation

  1. You know what the scariest part about this is for me? That it was a whole generation.
    1. We are so apt to judge how we are doing by those around us.
    2. What would the makeup of that generation be like?
      1. I bet their was more spiritual people and less spiritual people.
      2. Some of them were better parents and some worse parents.
      3. Among them some were chosen to be elders and these elders would have been perceived as wise and men to be looked up to and admired.
      4. Surely it can't be that they were all of them together to be cast into the same fate.
      5. But what is all of this comparison to each other when the true light is shined upon them. For their wickedness and rebellion the wrath of God was hastening on. Awake O sleeper awake. Do not judge the ways of the Lord in comparison to those around you, his ways are perfect and he commands of us trust and obedience.
      6. Don't compare yourself to your generation. This is especially true if your generation is sitting under the wrath of God about to be revealed; as this generation was.
      7. Colossians 3:5–6 5Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6On account of these the wrath of God is coming. ESV
    3. What was the thing God would have of them? To trust him, to obey him, to enter into his rest? This thing, whatever it was, they were not doing it, and so all the distinctions men make to separate the wise from the foolish, the noble from the common, the honorable from the base -- all make no sense; for they were all alike awaiting the coming wrath of God. What is the work of our generation such that if we are not about our Father's work then all of our distinctions break down and do not make sense.
      1. I think the way you answer this question will determine your life.

God's rest

  1. What is the work of God in your day?
  2. In that day, God was doing many things. I'm sure he was upholding men and women in all sorts of countries. He was governing kings and kingdoms all over the earth. Yet there was one work that all his gaze was upon. This was the work of God in this generation, to rescue his chosen race and bring them into the promised land.
  3. What is the one thing that God wants?
If you had asked me a year ago why we needed to leave California, I wouldn't have told you; "To seek the kingdom of God and universal holiness." I wouldn't have said it in Oregon or Montana. The thought would have barely crossed my mind by the time we were in Virginia. Somewhere along this trip though I realized that is what this trip is about. In fact that is what the trip was always about--even at the outset--we just didn't know it yet.
Here is a question for you: what is the best thing you can do for God? What would give him the biggest smile so to speak? I'll let that soak a bit while I describe the motivation of such a question. You see, God has blessed me extraordinarily. As the miles slipped away, old stresses and anxieties went with them. I traded in my work traffic and general unproductive business stresses for new ones; where would we go, what would we do how many more flat tires can I afford to fix? I started to think, what does the Lord require of me? "But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humble with they God."
In my mind, I wanted to reform the country. I wanted to start a new country. Maybe I could start a God honoring society -- like the households of old. But are those things that God wants most?
I could draw this out for pages, but I'll cut to the quick. God desires a pure sptless bride! God desires the church!