It has been about 5 months since I’ve written a post in the Three Sixteens series. (For my newer readers, this is my exploration of the strangely significant verses that appear in nearly all New Testament books at the point of Chapter 3, verse 16). This Hebrews 3:16 packs a great punch, bringing a serious warning from Israel’s history, that still challenges us today. Though the Israelites were rescued from slavery in Egypt, saw amazing miracles and plagues, pillars of fire and smoke, a sea that opened, Egyptians destroyed, manna from heaven, the tablets of the law – and though they heard the very voice of God – these people persisted in their desire to rebel. They hardened their hearts to their rescuing God. They turned their back on Him, in unbelief.
How then could we who have heard and understood the immensity of God’s gracious rescue in Jesus Christ – how could we persist in unbelief? How do we avoid falling into unbelief and hardening our hearts? The preceding verses suggest that God uses the encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ to sustain us in the faith:
“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Hebrews 3:12-13).
Every day, today, we need to pray for and encourage one another. Sin is deceitful – the Deceiver works to destroy our faith. We must help one another from falling into unbelief (though might I add to that statement, that God is Sovereign and faithful to us. He is committed to his transformation project, making us like His Son. Consider Philippians 1:6, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”) The consequences of hardening our hearts against the One mighty, true and living God are not pretty (to say the least). Let’s encourage one another, that we might keep our hearts and minds softened to the pure grace of the gospel.
Let’s heed the warning of this 3:16, the warning of history.
One Casting Crowns song, The Voice of Truth, reminds me of the need to hold to the truth of Christ amongst all the competing voices that call to us in this world. We must choose to listen and believe the voice of our Shepherd.
“But the voice of truth tells me a different story
And the voice of truth says “Do not be afraid!”
And the voice of truth says “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.”