Sunday I preached from Hebrews on God’s rest and the danger of hardening our hearts. You can hear it here. Here’s an excerpt:
Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion (HEB 3.7-8)
God promised Israel through Moses to deliver them from Egypt and take them to the promised land, but as they endured the extended “trial” the desert presented, they hardened their hearts to God’s promise. Even after all God had done for them in sending plagues on Egypt and not them, splitting the Red Sea, providing manna and water and keeping their shoes from wearing out, when they came to the edge of the promised land, and their spies reported giants they hardened their hearts in unbelief and didn’t believe God would give them the land.
We can look at the Exodus generation and shake our heads at their unbelief. Yet we can do the same thing. We have heard God’s promises and seen him work in our lives many times. We’ve seen him rescue us from our sins, and answer prayer after prayer. Many of us have seen God heal us. We’ve seen God give husbands and wives and children and jobs and wisdom. Yet when we encounter a new trial, how prone we are to forget all God has done in the past and give into unbelief. We say where is God now? How could God allow this to happen if he’s good?
We can be prone to harden our hearts when we go through EXTENDED TRIALS.
Some of us have battled sickness for years, and we hear a message about prayer. We can be tempted to harden our heart. “Oh yeah, prayer really works.” Or we’ve prayed for an unsaved family member for years. “Oh yeah, I’ve prayed and they’re still not following the Lord.” God warns us:
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. (HEB 3.12)
I’m struck by the phrase “evil, unbelieving heart.” We don’t tend to think of ourselves as evil when were doubting God. But to have the promises of God and to have seen him work in our lives time and time again and then to not believe that God is good or will help us is just simply evil. Unbelief is evil. Unbelief provokes God. And sadly, unbelief leads us to fall away from the living God.
So the writer of Hebrews says, “Take care! Beware! Be careful! Take this very seriously! Make sure you don’t fall into unbelief.”
HOW ABOUT YOU? Where are you most tempted to unbelief? Are you watching over your heart? Are there any areas you are hardening your heart in? Is your heart still tender toward God? Are you thinking any hard thoughts of God, that perhaps he is not good or caring, or faithful?