An Evil Heart
Hebrews 3:7-19
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Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden 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 years. Wherefore I was grieved with that
generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So
I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)

The Hebrew writer, quoting from the Psalms, reminds his readers what happened to the nation
of Israel as they were brought out of the land of Egypt by God. 603,550 men of war (plus the
women, children and Levites) left Egypt. Of those men, we only know of two (Joshua and Caleb)
who entered into the Promised Land. In the forty years in the wilderness wanderings (which they
were condemned to because of their failure to believe that they could conquer the land as God
had promised), they murmured and complained although God provided them with manna from
heaven and water from the rocks. Their hearts yearned to return to Egypt. Therefore, they died in
the wilderness and were denied entrance into the Land of Milk and Honey.

For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if
ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of
temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.
Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their
heart, and they have not known my ways: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should
not enter into my rest. (Psalms 95:7-11 KJV)

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23 KJV)

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from
the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be
hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold
the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear
his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

An evil heart of unbelief

The Israelites’ hearts yearned to return to Egypt in the wilderness, and the Hebrews’ hearts
yearned to return to the Old Covenant, the Law of Moses. In each instance, they wished to return
to the comfort of what they knew, rather than to accept and believe the promise of God. They
needed to beware lest they would fall into the same trap as those in the wilderness. Unbelief is
evil.

Departing from the living God

What the Hebrews saw as a returning to their roots was in reality departing from the living God.
God had given His promise. To turn away from that promise was to turn away from God.

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord
and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is
worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the
way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment
delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is
turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2
Peter 2:20-22 KJV)

Exhort one another daily

Realizing the danger that they faced, they needed to encourage each other to do what was rght
in the sight of God. Urging and encouraging one another continually they would go to the
assembly each week.

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the
assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and
so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25 KJV)

The deceitfulness of sin

Sin does not present itself as sin. It presents itself as fun, as beneficial, as desirous. The sin of
Israel presented itself as a better alternative than the difficulties of the desert. Going back to the
Law of Moses would present itself as a better alternative than to face the dangers of
persecution. It would present the appearance of continuing to serve God. It would provide the
comfort of the well-known. Sin is deceptive.

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown
of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is
tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any
man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then
when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth
death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. (James 1:12-16 KJV)

Partakers of Christ

As Christians, we have been made partakers of Christ – that is, we have been blessed with the
all spiritual blessings in Christ. Through Him we have: redemption, forgiveness, mercy, grace,
etc.

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our
Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and
godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are
given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers
of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter
1:2-4 KJV)

If…

Through Jesus we are made partakers of the divine nature IF… Our blessings are conditional. It
depends upon whether we hold on to our salvation, whether we hold on to our faith, whether we
keep His commandments.

And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now
hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and
unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled,
and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was
preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
(Colossians 1:21-23 KJV)

As in the provocation

We need to learn from the past. Those who do not, are destined to repeat its mistakes. We need
to make sure that we learn from the lesson of Israel.

Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as
they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people
sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of
them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ,
as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as
some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things
happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the
ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he
fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful,
who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation
also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:6-13 KJV)

For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.
But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose
carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest,
but to them that believed not?

Not all …

The good news is that not everyone that came up out of Egypt provoked God to anger. Each
person has a choice to make. You can do what is right. You can obey God. There has always
been a remnant that was faithful.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to
destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow
is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 KJV)

Them that had sinned

God’s displeasure and wrath has always been directed towards those who sinned.

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither
shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon
him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. (Ezekiel 18:20 KJV)

But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and
doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his
righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath
trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. (Ezekiel 18:24 KJV)

Not enter into His rest

Punishment will follow for those who sin.

For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have
sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before
God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the
law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto
themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also
bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)
In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
(Romans 2:12-16 KJV)

So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:7-19 KJV)

Because of unbelief

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that
he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)

See also 2 Sa 23:2; Ps 95:7; Ac 1:16; Heb 3:15; Heb 3:6; Heb 3:7; Nu 14:2,4,11,24,30; De 1:
34,36,38; Nu 14:22,29; 26:65; Ps 106:26; 1 Co 10:5; Jude 1:5; Nu 14:30; De 1:34-35; Heb 4:6