Hebrews 3:7–19 gives a negative example of faithfulness versus unfaithfulness. What event and what Old Testament passages are used by the author to discuss this negative example? Give an overview of the Old Testament events alluded to in this section. What does the author mean in Hebrews 3:12 by warning the recipients to avoid an evil, unbelieving heart that can lead to falling away from God? In what ways can a Christian fall away from God? Is this a warning to Christians? Why or why not?
In this section of Scripture the author of Hebrews is referring to the incident at Kadesh Barnea. This event takes place after they are able to leave Egypt, but before they would enter the Promised Land. This is actually the event that would cause God to keep them in the desert for forty years waiting for one generation to die off. The author uses Psalm 95:7c-11 and it is in this section of Scripture where the events of Numbers 14. The Lord was leading his people (sheep) through his servant (Moses), when the people chose to harden their hearts toward God. They not only would not listen when the Lord was speaking, but they chose to put him to the test even though they had seen all the glorious things He had done in bringing them out of Egypt. Instead of following God (obedience) they chose to go after their own hearts desires (disobedience). According to Cockerill, “In this sense “hearing” his voice is synonymous with obedience and the opposite of hardening one’s heart.”
The author here is trying to encourage his hearers to persevere through the trials and hardships they may be enduring at the hands of an unbelieving society. Cockerill asserts, “Unbelief springs from the heart but becomes real in the concrete act of refusal to trust God (3:18). The pastor envisions no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does he conceive of any obedience that does not stem from faith.” So we should not associate ourselves with people who are going to lead us down a path away from God. This does not mean we are not to go to the people and tell them about Jesus. It does mean that our deepest and most intimate relationships are to be with other “brothers and sisters in Christ.” Guthrie helps us to understand the power of unbelief that manifests itself in many different forms. He says, “The thief doubts God’s provision, the sexually immoral person denies the sufficiency of God’s design for sexual fulfillment, the religiously proud does not trust God’s priority on humility.”
Christians can make the choice to not spend time in the spritiual disciplines and this will lead to a weak walk with God. Christ told us that all the father have given him cannot be taken from him (John 6:36-44), and if they do fall away we have to question if they were ever really a true child of God. John again tells us that if they leave and do not hold out to the end they were never really with us (1 John 2:19).