Daily Update #193

Today’s readings –  Hebrews 3:7-14    Psalm 95    Mark 1:40-45

Pause:  

Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.

Hebrews 3:7b-8a

The letter to the Hebrews is replete with explanations about who Jesus is, and particularly how he fulfils and exceeds all the Old Testament revelation which went before.  

The Hebrew Christians being addressed would have been very aware of the importance of Moses in the rescue which God achieved of the Israelites from Egypt.  In this letter we learn that Jesus exceeds all that Moses was able to accomplish.  Moses was faithful, Jesus more so.  Moses was worthy of honour, Jesus is worthy of much greater honour.  Moses was part of the house himself (that is, one of God’s people), Jesus is the builder of the house.  Moses was a faithful servant in God’s house, Jesus is faithful as the Son over God’s house.  

Next we receive a solemn warning and exhortation, again coming from the experience of God’s people in the Old Testament.  Psalm 95 is quoted extensively in this text.  This refers to the incident of the rebellion by the Israelites against God and Moses which took place at Massah and Meribah (which mean testing and quarrelling).  If you have a chance, take a look at Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 14:21-35.  

The situation was that the Israelites, who came out of Egypt through the miraculous events which took place at the Red Sea, are looking for some water and not finding any.  So they quarrelled and tested the Lord saying “Is the Lord among us or not?”  Despite the fact that they walked through the sea on dry land and then watched the mighty army of the Egyptian superpower being crushed and overwhelmed by the sea as it returned to it place, they’re not sure.  Is the Lord with us or not?  

This incident serves as a warning to all Christians as well.  If the Israelites at Massah and Meribah had every reason to know that God was with them, how much more do we?  Let’s look at what Jesus has achieved for each one of us.  

We were dead in our sins and in the condemnation which was rightfully ours, and yet Jesus has rescued us, has brought us eternal life through his death in our place and his glorious resurrection to the position of first born from the dead.  The Israelites enjoyed physical rescue.  We have gained spiritual rescue, as Jesus laid down his life as a sacrifice for us, so that we can live and escape the eternal death which we deserve.  He rescues us from the shroud of death, giving us eternal life to enjoy!  Jesus reconciles us to God, restores the relationship which we long for, by the sacrificial giving of himself on the cross.  

We are those who have heard Jesus’ voice and have taken hold of the rescue which he offers.  We have put our faith and trust in him.  We have a sure and certain hope of eternal life.  

Will we look back and harden our hearts?  Will we rebel against the Lord God and his anointed, the Christ?  Surely it’s unthinkable!  

But isn’t this precisely what the Israelites did, on a smaller scale, at Massah and Meribah?  The Israelites saw the presence of God as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  They saw the Red Sea being divided and they walked through safely.  They saw the might of the Egyptian army being crushed as the sea closed in on them.  So how can they ask, “Is the Lord among us, or not?”  

So what are we to do?  How can we guard against this possibility?  We are offered two safeguards:  

Faithfulness:  “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” (3:12)

We need to keep reminding ourselves of the truths in God’s word.  We need to make sure that we believe them and that we turn personally, in prayer and with our whole being, to the living God.  

Encouragement:  “Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”  (3:13)

We need to help each other to avoid sin and its lies.  If we persist in sin then it will lead to a hardening of our hearts.  If this is not addressed then it could put us at risk of turning away from the living God.  How encouraging to hear from Richard and Kim about the work being done among our young people yesterday!  It’s great to hear about the truth going out to so many families and others.

So here are two questions:  

Q1:  Do you make sure your heart is close to God, every day, by reading his word and actively turning to him?  

…. fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest (3:1).  

Q2:  Are you encouraging your brothers and sisters in Christ every day to root out sin in their lives, to repent and to ensure they are not being hardened against the living God?  

We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.  (3:14)

Prayer

Heavenly Father,
thank you for the Lord Jesus who fulfilled all your promises and who reconciled us to you.
Thank you that he gave his life to take away our sin and to declare us righteous.
Help us to hold firmly to our confidence in the Lord Jesus and to the hope in which we glory.
Soften our hearts and teach us each day, so that we may grow more and more like Jesus.
We ask this for the honour and glory of your name.

    Amen

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