Are you afraid of God? Up until recently, I would have told you that I just didn’t think about it that much. Was this naive? Yes, probably. I mean God is an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient being and I am essentially still a bumbling 16 year old kid who has been trying to mature for over 30 years.
My thoughts on the subject went something like this – “I am a sinner and so is everyone else and Jesus died for my sins so I should be good when I get to heaven considering that a BUNCH of other people have done a lot worse than I have.” I had listened to so many sermons and podcasts talking about the fear of the Lord and how so and so was gravely concerned and I should be too. Yada, Yada, Yada. It just never affected me that much. I couldn’t gin up that much concern because “I am a Christ-follower and I am pretty sure that I will never decide to stop being one”. “I’m good”, I thought. Maybe you have felt similar things.
And then I read Hebrews 3 again. In verses 2 through 6, the writer of Hebrews begins to compare Moses and Jesus. He lists several reasons why Jesus is greater, but I am not going to really get into that here. What struck me was the comparison of the two followed by the warnings starting in verse 7.
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. 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.’
– Hebrews 3:7-10
This quote of Psalm 95 uses the comparison to warn the early Christians and us today not to fall into the sin trap of the wandering Israelites. These people had been rescued by God personally just like the Hebrews of Jesus’ day and the Christians of today. The Israelites had seen miracles happen directly and, while I haven’t received any manna from heaven, I have felt the Holy Spirit with me. They had all screwed up, a bunch, just like we all have. None of us have built a golden calf, but we sure have erected and worshipped an innumerable number of idols in our life.
And then I read the next verse and I better understood the idea of having a healthy fear – of sin and the Lord:
11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’
– Hebrews 3:11
Wait What?!? I thought that a generation of Israelites just never got to enter the promised land! This says they never entered God’s rest! They chose to keep sinning and will not be with God – EVER. Just to make sure that those of us that are a little slow to get the point, the author goes on to quote Psalm 95 again.
15 As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”
– Hebrews 3:15
“As you did in the rebellion” means as they did while wandering AND AS I DO – TODAY. It’s saying “Don’t keep sinning and end up hardening your hearts to Christ.”
Shoot, But, this can’t apply to Christians today! This is a completely different time. Jesus died for our sins and we are good people and will never turn away from the Lord, Yada Yada Yada!
1 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.
– Hebrews 4:1-2
The promise still stands. We have heard the good news. We have accepted Christ. We have heard His voice. We better be careful with sin because, if we aren’t, it could harden our hearts and we could end up just like the Israelites. They thought that just because they were saved by God through Moses that they were good. We need to be careful that we don’t begin to think the same thing especially in light of Jesus very pointed statements in Matthew 7.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
– Matthew 7:21-23