Have you hardened your heart, or do you believe?
The writer of Hebrews boldly told the Hebrews “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” He then followed up with several questions – “For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?” (Hebrews 3: 15-18) He then concludes – “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” (Hebrews 3: 19)
God had told Moses – “…I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey…” (Exodus 3: 7-8)
However, after the Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt, they began complaining. They complained that Pharaoh’s soldiers would kill them; so, God divided the Red Sea. They did not know what they would drink; so, God provided water for them. They thought they would die of hunger; so, God sent manna for them to eat. They wanted meat to eat; so, God sent quail.
God told Moses at Kadesh Barnea – “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel…” (Num. 13: 2a) Moses then told the men “…Go up this way into the South, and go up to the mountains, and see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many; whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds; whether the land is rich or poor; and whether there are forests there or not. Be of good courage. And bring some of the fruit of the land.” (Num. 13: 17-20)
It was a fruitful land! When they came to the Valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes, which was so large it had to be carried on a pole by two men.
The spies reported to Moses that the people in the land were strong, and the cities were fortified and large. Caleb suggested to the Israelites that they go up immediately and take possession of the land, but the other spies said, ‘we are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.’ They told the people the land was a land ‘that devours its inhabitants,’ and that some of the men were giants.
In unbelief, the Israelites complained to Moses and Aaron – “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” (Num. 14: 2b-3)
They had experienced God’s continual provision for them after they were led out of Egyptian slavery but did not believe God could safely take them into the Promised Land.
Just as the Israelites did not believe God could lead them safely into the Promised Land, we lead ourselves into an eternity without God if we do not believe Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient to merit our eternal redemption.
Paul wrote in Romans – “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, ‘The man who does those things shall live by them.’ But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, ‘Do not say in your heart, Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” (Romans 10: 1-13)