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Warning against Unbelief

7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear his voice,

8

do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,

as on the day of testing in the wilderness,

9

where your ancestors put me to the test,

though they had seen my works 10for forty years.

Therefore I was angry with that generation,

and I said, ‘They always go astray in their hearts,

and they have not known my ways.’

11

As in my anger I swore,

‘They will not enter my rest.’ ”

12 Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end. 15As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

16 Now who were they who heard and yet were rebellious? Was it not all those who left Egypt under the leadership of Moses?


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7-11. Exhortation from Ps 95:7-11, not through unbelief to lose participation in the spiritual house. Seeing that we are the house of God if we hold fast our confidence … (Heb 3:6). Jesus is "faithful," be not ye unfaithful (Heb 3:2, 12). The sentence beginning with "wherefore," interrupted by the parenthesis confirming the argument from Ps 95:7-11, is completed at Heb 3:12, "Take heed," &c.

Holy Ghost saith—by the inspired Psalmist; so that the words of the latter are the words of God Himself.

To-day—at length; in David's day, as contrasted with the days of Moses in the wilderness, and the whole time since then, during which they had been rebellious against God's voice; as for instance, in the wilderness (Heb 3:8). The Psalm, each fresh time when used in public worship, by "to-day," will mean the particular day when it was, or is, used.

hear—obediently.

his voice—of grace.

8. Harden not your hearts—This phrase here only is used of man's own act; usually of God's act (Ro 9:18). When man is spoken of as the agent in hardening, the phrase usually is, "harden his neck," or "back" (Ne 9:17).

provocation … temptation—"Massah-meribah," translated in Margin "tentation … chiding," or "strife" (Ex 17:1-7). Both names seem to refer to that one event, the murmuring of the people against the Lord at Rephidim for want of water. The first offense especially ought to be guarded against, and is the most severely reproved, as it is apt to produce many more. Nu 20:1-13 and De 33:8 mention a second similar occasion in the wilderness of Sin, near Kadesh, also called Meribah.

in the dayGreek, "according to the day of."

9. When—rather, "Where," namely, in the wilderness.

your fathers—The authority of the ancients is not conclusive [Bengel].

tempted me, proved me—The oldest manuscripts read, "tempted (Me) in the way of testing," that is, putting (Me) to the proof whether I was able and willing to relieve them, not believing that I am so.

saw my works forty years—They saw, without being led thereby to repentance, My works of power partly in affording miraculous help, partly in executing vengeance, forty years. The "forty years" joined in the Hebrew and Septuagint, and below, Heb 3:17, with "I was grieved," is here joined with "they saw." Both are true; for, during the same forty years that they were tempting God by unbelief, notwithstanding their seeing God's miraculous works, God was being grieved. The lesson intended to be hinted to the Hebrew Christians is, their "to-day" is to last only between the first preaching of the Gospel and Jerusalem's impending overthrow, namely, FORTY YEARS; exactly the number of years of Israel's sojourn in the wilderness, until the full measure of their guilt having been filled up all the rebels were overthrown.

10. grieved—displeased. Compare "walk contrary," Le 26:24, 28.

that generation—"that" implies alienation and estrangement. But the oldest manuscripts read, "this."

said—"grieved," or "displeased," at their first offense. Subsequently when they hardened their heart in unbelief still more, He sware in His wrath (Heb 3:11); an ascending gradation (compare Heb 3:17, 18).

and they have not knownGreek, "But these very persons," &c. They perceived I was displeased with them, yet they, the same persons, did not a whit the more wish to know my ways [Bengel]; compare "but they," Ps 106:43.

not known my ways—not known practically and believingly the ways in which I would have had them go, so as to reach My rest (Ex 18:20).

11. So—literally, "as."

I swareBengel remarks the oath of God preceded the forty years.

not—literally, "If they shall enter … (God do so to me and more also)," 2Sa 3:35. The Greek is the same, Mr 8:12.

my rest—Canaan, primarily, their rest after wandering in the wilderness: still, even when in it, they never fully enjoyed rest; whence it followed that the threat extended farther than the exclusion of the unbelieving from the literal land of rest, and that the rest promised to the believing in its full blessedness was, and is, yet future: Ps 25:13; 37:9, 11, 22, 29, and Christ's own beatitude (Mt 5:5) all accord with this, Heb 3:9.

12. Take heed—to be joined with "wherefore," Heb 3:7.

lest there beGreek (indicative), "lest there shall be"; lest there be, as I fear there is; implying that it is not merely a possible contingency, but that there is ground for thinking it will be so.

in any—"in any one of you." Not merely ought all in general be on their guard, but they ought to be so concerned for the safety of each one member, as not to suffer any one to perish through their negligence [Calvin].

heart—The heart is not to be trusted. Compare Heb 3:10, "They do always err in their heart."

unbelieffaithlessness. Christ is faithful; therefore, saith Paul to the Hebrews, we ought not to be faithless as our fathers were under Moses.

departing—apostatizing. The opposite of "come unto" Him (Heb 4:16). God punishes such apostates in kind. He departs from them—the worst of woes.

the living God—real: the distinctive characteristic of the God of Israel, not like the lifeless gods of the heathen; therefore One whose threats are awful realities. To apostatize from Christ is to apostatize from the living God (Heb 2:3).

13. one anotherGreek, "yourselves"; let each exhort himself and his neighbor.

dailyGreek, "on each day," or "day by day."

while it is called To-day—while the "to-day" lasts (the day of grace, Lu 4:21, before the coming of the day of glory and judgment at Christ's coming, Heb 10:25, 37). To-morrow is the day when idle men work, and fools repent. To-morrow is Satan's to-day; he cares not what good resolutions you form, if only you fix them for to-morrow.

lest … of you—The "you" is emphatic, as distinguished from "your fathers" (Heb 3:9). "That from among you no one (so the Greek order is in some of the oldest manuscripts) be hardened" (Heb 3:8).

deceitfulness—causing you to "err in your heart."

sin—unbelief.

14. For, &c.—enforcing the warning, Heb 3:12.

partakers of Christ—(Compare Heb 3:1, 6). So "partakers of the Holy Ghost" (Heb 6:4).

holdGreek, "hold fast."

the beginning of our confidence—that is, the confidence (literally, substantial, solid confidence) of faith which we have begun (Heb 6:11; 12:2). A Christian so long as he is not made perfect, considers himself as a beginner [Bengel].

unto the end—unto the coming of Christ (Heb 12:2).

15. While it is said—connected with Heb 3:13, "exhort one another … while it is said, To-day": Heb 3:14, "for we are made partakers," &c., being a parenthesis. "It entirely depends on yourselves that the invitation of the ninety-fifth Psalm be not a mere invitation, but also an actual enjoyment." Alford translates, "Since (that is, 'for') it is said," &c., regarding Heb 3:15 as a proof that we must "hold … confidence … unto the end," in order to be "partakers of Christ."

16. For some—rather interrogatively, "For WHO was it that, when they had heard (referring to 'if ye will hear,' Heb 3:15), did provoke (God)?" The "For" implies, Ye need to take heed against unbelief: for, was it not because of unbelief that all our fathers were excluded (Eze 2:3)? "Some," and "not all," would be a faint way of putting his argument, when his object is to show the universality of the evil. Not merely some, but all the Israelites, for the solitary exceptions, Joshua and Caleb, are hardly to be taken into account in so general a statement. So Heb 3:17, 18, are interrogative: (1) the beginning of the provocation, soon after the departure from Egypt, is marked in Heb 3:16; (2) the forty years of it in the wilderness, Heb 3:17; (3) the denial of entrance into the land of rest, Heb 3:18. Compare Note, see on 1Co 10:5, "with the majority of them God was displeased."

howbeit—"Nay (why need I put the question?), was it not all that came out of Egypt?" (Ex 17:1, 2).

by Moses—by the instrumentality of Moses as their leader.




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