4 Nov 2022

In this passage, let us focus on several verses which are warning and exhortation:

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of us an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God (vs12)”….
“As it is said, ‘Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” (vs 15)”.

The book of Hebrews focuses on exhorting and warning the Jewish Christians not to abandon their Christian faith and to turn back to ‘Judaism’: It was a difficult and trying time for the Jews who became believers of Jesus; because, they were no longer regarded as practising Jews, they were not exempted from “Emperor worship” which was implemented by the Roman rulers, and the penalty of not abiding to this would be imprisonment, the loss of homes and properties and even death.

In such a context, with such intense persecutions and sufferings, it may be easier to turn back to Judaism – after all, they were still believers in God and they need not endure all the sufferings and persecutions from the Romans as well as fellow Jews practising Judaism

The author of Hebrews embarked on all the reasons why they could not abandon Jesus and still be accepted by God: Jesus is superior to Moses, to the angels, and He is the Son of God – He is also the High Priest after the order of Melchizedek and He was the one final sacrifice; He is also the final Prophet and God’s final message to His people. There is no other way to salvation in God, apart from Jesus and His accomplishments and mediation.

Facing such intense persecutions and sufferings, one can understand how the path to compromise is an easier option.

But the book of Hebrews warns as well as exhorts God’s people not to turn back to the old beliefs and practice – it is tantamount to apostasy – marked by unbelief, disobedience and hardening of the heart.

The antidote is to encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’. It may take place on the basis of Scripture, in Chrisian gatherings, exhortation of one another, not just by leaders but by every believer in the community.

It is faith that provides the foundation for confidence in daily Christian living in faithfulness to God: persevering faith is a mark of true conversion – this is the message not just to the believers in the past but also to us in the present. Today we also may be facing persecutions, sufferings, uncertainties of various kinds as we seek to be faithful to God – the call is to trust and believe God in Jesus as long as it is called ‘Today’. It is not a call to live for the moment and to ‘enjoy the world and her offerings’ – it is a call to persevere in faith in God despite the difficulties and sufferings and to trust and obey despite the pressures to do otherwise and to follow the crowd.

The negative example of Israel in the wilderness, in their rebellion, was recalled as a warning not to fail as many among them failed and did not enter into the promised land. The message they heard, the experience they received from God’s goodness and grace, did not benefit them because those who heard did not combine it with faith; they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.

The Author also exhorted the believers not to neglect so great a salvation provided by God in heaven in His Son – the consequences of rejection may be serious and eternal.

Here is a message for us all who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. No suffering, no persecution, no pain should cause us to harden our hearts and to turn away from our faith!