Hebrews 3:12-19 says,
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
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.
Hebrews 3:12-19 serves as an exhortation to us. Once again, we see the author present Jesus to us and then turn and tell us to pay attention. The problem is hardness of heart. How is the heart hardened?
First, by the deceitfulness of sin (3:13). Archibald Alexander said, “All sin takes its origin from false views of things.” John Calvin said nothing is easier than for our heart to be deceived. What we believe about God matters. Our deep need is to see the gospel clearly. When our vision gets blurry, sin seems a better option.
Second, our hearts are hardened because we have an evil, unbelieving heart (3:12). As we give in to sin, our heart stops believing God and begins believing something else – a false view of things.
Third, our hearts are hardened because we drift (2:1). Once we have given in to sin once, the subsequent temptations become easier to fall into. Before we realize it, we are drifting away.
How could sin seem a better option? Because sin bends our hearts toward sin. We are not good people who do bad things from time to time. We are bad people who do good things by the power of the Spirit. Apart from God, we cannot do anything good. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all” (John 6:63).
What is the way to a soft heart? It is by sitting at the feet of Jesus. Only there will we find any power at all to fight sin. Only there will our evil, unbelieving heart be exposed. Only there will our hearts be transformed through mercy and grace. Only there will we see the faithfulness of Jesus.
The faithfulness of Jesus is our great hope. His heart is the defense against our heart. His heart pushed him into our world. It pushed him into human skin. It pushed him to the cross. It pushed him to take all our sin in himself and to defeat it in his perfect righteousness.
Notice the problem with the Israelites. It was not that God abandoned them. It was that they abandoned God. They didn’t enter God’s rest because of their unbelief. Psalm 95 says of the Israelites, “they always go astray in their hearts.” Tom Schreiner says, “The word ‘always’ indicates that Israel’s wondering from the Lord was not temporary or occasional but was the constant refrain of their lives.” What is the constant refrain of your life? Is it to always go astray or is it to always draw near?
The question Jesus posed to his disciples applies to us now: “where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25)
Jesus asked that question as he calmed the storm. The wind and waves were crashing into their boat. They were professional sea men and yet they were afraid. And as they looked at Jesus they saw him asleep in the midst of the storm. Didn’t he care about them? Wasn’t he concerned? Could he not be bothered to rouse from his sleep now? So they go to him and shout out, “Master, master, we are perishing!” And Jesus awakes and rebukes the storm. And after the waves still and the wind dies, he turns and asks, “Where is your faith?” They didn’t know God cares for them even in the middle of a hurricane.
This author is asking the same question. He’s doing what he encourages them to do to stick close to Jesus, namely, to “exhort one another every day.” These Hebrews were facing intense suffering and persecution. And their pastor looks them in the eye and asks them pointedly, “where is your faith?”
So, where is yours? Is it in the one who not only calms earthly winds and waves but also the fear of death? Is it in the one who not only awakes from sleep to save but also sends the winds and waves for our good? What are you facing that Jesus is incapable of handling? What are you facing that is greater than the one who upholds the universe by the word of his power?