Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Hebrews 3:13-4:2
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Hebrews 3:13
Verse 13 (continued): Believers are to “encourage one another… as long as it is still called ‘today’...” The concept of “today” is an important one to the author and he will return to it again in chapter four (Heb 4:7). He quotes from Psalm 95:7 which calls on those who can hear God’s voice to refuse to harden their hearts as did the Exodus-generation. This means a person who is living in that moment called “today” is someone who is still capable of hearing the Spirit and repenting. Sadly, the opposite condition is also possible. People can deafen their spiritual ears that they can no longer hear Him (Mt 13:13-16) and so hardened their hearts that they are incapable of repenting. For such a person “today” has passed.

Monday: Hebrews 3:13
Verse 13 (continued): The word “today” can also refer to the present season of grace which God has granted to the world. Jesus pointed to this season of grace in Nazareth when He opened the scroll of Isaiah and read Isaiah 61:1, 2 (Lk 4:14-21). In that passage Isaiah identifies the “favorable year of the Lord” and the “day of vengeance of our God.” The “favorable year” is this present age in which we are living during which people are always invited by God to repent, and therefore lost souls are constantly being gathered into God’s Kingdom. However, at a future point in time the “day of vengeance” will arrive and the opportunity for anyone to repent will be over. So the word “today,” as it is used here, has at least two different dimensions of meaning: 1) a personal application which refers to an individual’s capacity to hear and repent; and 2) the universal application which refers to this present season during which repentance is still possible.

Tuesday: Hebrews 3:14
Verse 14: Once again, in this verse, the author of Hebrews reminds us that our faith in Christ must endure until we die. We must “…hold fast the beginning of our assurance (lit: substance, underlying foundation) firm until the end….” If we do we will be included among the group which he calls “partakers of Christ” (see: calling, 3:1; Holy Spirit, 6:4; discipline, 12:8) meaning we too will share in Christ’s salvation. To have a claim on the salvation won by Christ a person must hold on to the faith that first saved him throughout his lifetime (Col 2:6). If we abandon Him before we die we lose that claim.

Wednesday: Hebrews 3:15-17
Verses 15-17: The Exodus-generation illustrates that it is possible to start out with God yet lose His favor before arriving at faith’s destination. In Psalm 95 (95:7) the psalmist says they “provoked” God by hardening their hearts toward Him. The Hebrew word, which is translated as “provoke” is better translated as “tested” (Dn 1:14) referring to the rebellious way Israel tested the Lord when hardships arose. Each time a problem arose they accused Him of failing them. From their perspective they had tested Him and found Him wanting. The author of Hebrews points out that this caused God to become angry with them and to judge them by leaving them in the wilderness for 40 years. One year for every day the 12 spies were in the land (Nu 14:33, 34) until all adults 20 years old and older had died (Nu 14:29).

Thursday: Hebrews 3:18, 19
Verses 18, 19: The persistent disobedience (v 18) by Israel in the wilderness was caused by unbelief (v 19). As we’ve seen they doubted that God was willing or able to care for them so they took matters in their own hands, which of course resulted in defiant disobedience toward God. This in turn caused Him to change His plans for that generation. At Kadesh-Barnea He vowed they would not enter the promised land (Nu 14:22, 23). To not enter the promised land meant they would remain nomads in the desert, unable to settle down in the land and “rest” from their journeying. The key concept which the author raises here is “rest.” Over the next 12 verses he will explain the deeper spiritual meaning behind that word. He shows us that the example of Israel not resting is a warning to Christian believers as well.

Friday: Hebrews 4:1
Verse 1: In case anyone doubts that the possibility of not holding fast to Jesus “firm until the end” is a real danger, the author of Hebrews warns us to “fear” the consequences of abandoning Christ. In other words, people can still sin the sin of the Exodus-generation and thereby forfeit their salvation. People can abandon their faith along the way and if they do the prospect of what will happen to them is terrible ( 2:2, 3; 6:4-8; 10:27-31, 39; 12:25-29). Verse 1 (continued): Between the moment of salvation and moment we see Jesus face to face, whether by death or rapture, there remains a promise of “entering His rest.” This is the “wilderness” season during which Christians await the fulfillment of His promise of salvation. Only God knows a person’s heart and would know whether or not a person had crossed the threshold back into complete unbelief. This is why from a human point of view we can only speak of a person who “may seem to have come short of it.” To us another person may appear to have attitudes or behaviors that seem to arise from a heart that no longer has faith, but we never really know another person’s heart (1Sa 16:7; Ps 139:1-6). Only God knows someone at that level so it is never our place to pronounce a person “lost.” This is why the author has chosen his words carefully here. He doesn’t announce a verdict of condemnation as if he’s the final judge. He simply warns those who may “seem” to be in danger.

Saturday: Hebrews 4:2
Verse 2: Both the Exodus-generation and Christians have had “good news” preached to them. Moses came from Mt. Sinai to Egypt to announce to Israel that God would set them free from slavery and give them a land in which to live. Jesus came from heaven to earth to announce to all humans that God would set them free from slavery to sin and the devil and give them eternal life. The generation of Israel to whom Moses came didn’t reach the promised land because they did not believe in their hearts the good news Moses preached. The Greek text of this verse literally says “the word of hearing did not profit those (who had good news preached to them) not having been mixed together with faith in the one’s hearing.” And his point is that within those who hear the gospel of Christ the word also needs to be “mixed together with faith.” We learn from this that in order for the gospel to save us it must be received with the kind of faith that perseveres through hardship and persists over a lifetime.

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