Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith,
1To day if ye will hear his voice, 2Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years3. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways4. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest5.
- 1 Ps 95:7-11
- 2 Heb 3:15, 4:7, Rom 2:5
- 3 Ex 17:7, Num 14:22, Ps 78:40-41, Acts 7:36, Mt 4:7
- 4 Ps 81:13
- 5 Heb 4:3
IV Caution Against Falling Away
Verse 6 ends by stating that we are of the household of God “if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.“. The rest of chapter 3 is an exposition this premise. The apostle here warns Hebrew believers against falling away by reminding them of their ancestors that turned their back on God and worshiped other gods – “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief“.
Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith…
- Ps 95:7-8 is again quoted in Hebrews 4:7 and there the Psalm is attributed to King David
- Here the Scripture is attributed to its divine author – The Holy Spirit (see 2 Peter 1:22)
- Holy Ghost saith – In Hebrews 1:1, God the Father spake “by the prophets”. In Hebrews 2:3, the gospel was spoken by the Lord. Here, the Holy Ghost is speaking – “thus, by linking together these three passages we hear all the Persons of the Godhead” (AW Pink).
- saith – Note the writer does not say “said”, but “saith”. The Holy Spirit speaks (present tense) through the Word of God
- “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 3:13, 3:22).
- “Whatever was given by inspiration from the Holy Ghost, and is recorded in the Scripture for the use of the Church, He continues therein to speak it unto us unto this day” (Dr. John Owen)
To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as …When your fathers tempted me…
- The quote is from Ps 95:7-11
- “We cannot soften our hearts, but we can harden them, and the consequences will be fatal. Today is too good a day to be profaned by the hardening of our hearts against our own mercies.” (Spurgeon on Ps 95:8)
- See Romans 2:5 – “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God”
- How do our hearts get hard?
But this hardening is caused by two things: first, by God not offering grace: ‘He has mercy on whom he will, and whom he wills, he hardens’ (Rom. 9:18); secondly, by the sinner hardening himself by not obeying God and by not opening his heart to grace: ‘And they made their heart as the adamant stone, lest they should hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts sent in his spirit by the hand of the former prophets’ (Zech 7:12). Therefore, harden not your hearts i.e., do not close your hearts to the Holy Spirit: ‘You always resist the Holy Spirit’ (Ac. 7:51).
- To hear God’s voice is to heed his will made known in His Word
- A hard heart is due to “impenitency (Rom. 2:5), unbelief (Heb. 3:12), disobedience (Ps. 95:8)” (AW Pink)
- The Israelites murmur against God – see Exodus 17
- your fathers tempted (πειράζω) me, proved (δοκιμάζω) me…
- πειράζω and δοκιμάζω both mean to test or try
- It is a “wicked sin of unbelief” to test or try God to prove His faithfulness! (Mt 4:7)
I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.
- they have not known my ways – see Matt 7:23: “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity“
- A true believer says (Ps 25:4) – “Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation.“
- What does it mean that God was grieved by that generation?
“When God says He ‘was grieved’ He means that He was burdened, vexed, displeased …Men live, speak and act as if they thought God [was] very little concerned in what they do, especially in their sins; that either He takes no notice of them, or if He do, that He is not much concerned in them; …They think that, as to thoughts about sins, God is altogether as themselves. But it is far otherwise, …He is also concerned as a God of Justice. His holiness and justice is His nature, and He needs no other reason to punish sin but Himself”
So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.
O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! (Dt 32:29)
…in view of the lamentable history of Israel, who, despite God’s wondrous favors to them, hardened their hearts, grieved Him, and so provoked Him to wrath, that He sware they should not enter into His rest, how much on our guard we need to be of “holding fast” the confidence and rejoicing of our hope “firm unto the end!”
An unspeakably solemn warning is this for all who profess to be God’s people today. A still more wonderful and glorious manifestation has God now made of Himself than any which Israel ever enjoyed. God has been manifested in flesh. The only-begotten Son has declared the Father. He has fully displayed His matchless grace and fathomless love by coming here and dying for poor sinners. When He left the earth, He sent the Holy Spirit, so that we now have not a Moses, but the third Person of the Trinity to guide us. God made known His laws unto Israel, but His complete Word is now in our hands. What more can He say, than to us He has said! How great is our responsibility; how immeasureably greater than Israel’s is our sin and guilt, if we despise Him who speaks to us!