Verse of the Day Devotion. Hebrews 3:14
“For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” – Hebrews 3:14
Here, the writer of Hebrews is going to use an idea found in Psalms, where it is written, “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.” Psalm 95:6-9. This verse makes sense when you know what Meribah and Massah mean. Meribah is the Hebrew word for ‘strife’ or ‘contention’, while Massah is the Hebrew word for ‘trial’ or ‘temptation’.
And in Exodus, we see where these words were original used. “Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said to them, Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD? But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst? So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me. Then the LORD said to Moses, Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight elders of Israel. And he named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?” Exodus 17:1-7. Note in verse 7 that Moses changed their names with words describing the attitudes of the Israelites.
Now, nearly 3,500 years ago, the Lord delivered His people from Egyptian bondage as described in Exodus, chapters 1–12. They were to take possession of the land God had promised their forefathers, a land “flowing with milk and honey”. Prior to entry, however, they became convinced they could not oust the current inhabitants of the land, even though God told them they could. Their lack of belief in God’s word and promises brought forth the wrath of God. He cursed them with forty years of wilderness wandering until the unbelieving generation died off and never stepping foot in the Promised Land.
The people whom Hebrews was written for was the Jewish Christians, therefore they would understand what the author meant. Back when they were rescued from Egypt and were heading to the Promised Land, they did not trust or believe God when He told them they would enter the land flowing with milk and honey. Only two did, Joshua and Caleb. The author was using this as an example to the Jewish Christians. Remember our focus verse. “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” Hebrews 3:14.
The problem was that the Jews, other than the two mentioned above, would not believe God when He told them His promises to them. God had promised them victory. The land He commanded them to go in and take was already theirs; they simply had to trust and obey, but this they did not do. God will never lead us where His grace cannot provide for us or His power cannot protect us. Indeed, the Israelites had seen the powerful hand of God at work during the plagues and miracles of the Exodus. Yet, like many people, they walked by sight and not by faith, and their unbelief displeased God. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” Hebrews 11:6. Their failure to believe in God’s word kept them from entering the Promised Land. This truth has never changed. He told them they had the promises of God if they continued to believe and remained firm to the end. He told them, “For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.” Hebrews 3:16-4:1. And one more thing, this does not simply apply to Jewish Christians, but to every Christian.
This is what the author wanted his audience to remember and never forget. Stay firm and do not harden your heart against God.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.