Warning 2 – Doubting the Word
So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. [Hebrews 3:19]
The “they” in this verse are the Israelites who wandered the dessert for 40 years. Our passage this morning, a warning, is in the context of Hebrews 3:1-6; that Jesus is superior to Moses who led them in the wilderness. The warning is of unbelief, not believing, doubting God’s word and God’s promises.
The “enter in” refers to entering the Promise Land, the Land flowing with milk and honey. God, by His Word, promised the Land to them [i.e., the Abrahamic Covenant, Gen 15], but they doubted; they did not believe. Therefore they wandered and perished in the wilderness.
The application that the writer draws us to [and to his Hebrew audience] is that we too can perish because of unbelief, because of doubting God’s Word and promises.
What are the promises that we have? They are those of the New Covenant; that we through the better blood and better sacrifice of Jesus, have a better way into a better place, behind the veil, within the Holy of Holies where Christ Himself dwells. This is the “solid food” belonging “to those who are of full age” [Heb 5:14a], i.e., mature believers. It is spiritual food and the walk of a mature Christian who “by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” [Heb 5:14b]
Remember that Hebrews is an Epistle of better things. Everything is better in Christ. Jesus is better than the prophets, better than the angels, better than Moses [last week’s message], and better than Aaron [next week’s message].
But in between these “better” things are warnings; alerts on unbelief, not believing God’s Word and God’s promises. “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness” [Heb 3:8]. He warns this not once but twice [ref. Heb 3:15]
There is a Sabbath rest that is the Christian’s inheritance; just like the rest that was promised to Israel in the Land. But we, too, like those who perished, can, through unbelief, enter not. How unfortunate it is to not enter; to not rest, to never go behind the veil and into the Holy of Holies where our Hero dwells. He has finished the work and made the way. Our one part is to by faith believe and enter.
It is the entering in that makes all the difference in this life of faith.