It’s hard to read many of the stories in the Old Testament. One moment I read about awesome miracles like the plagues and the parting of the sea, then the next moment I read about people denying God’s existence. Those stories are not just historical, and about other people, they’re about today and they’re about me (and you). God is awesome, but we tend not to treat Him as awesome. God wants personal engagement, but we tend to give Him something less than personal. That’s a big deal because it leads toward disconnecting from God, and disconnecting from His benefits.
Hebrews 3:7-19 reveals How To Avoid Disconnecting, and why it’s so important.
I’ll walk through this with notes from my personal devotions. Here’s my Interpretation from my Inductive Study…
I. Key words are so important
First, there are a couple of key words we need to understand: Rebellion, rest, and heart.
II. “Rebellion” is defined as rejecting an existing relationship
The rebellion being referred to comes from Psalm 95:7-11, summarizing Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Shockingly, after Israel had seen God rescue them through the plagues, seen the parting of the sea, ate the manna, and travelled in the presence of God, they chose to reject Him and go their own way.
III. “Heart” is defined as what we truly want
When the author refers to the heart I believe he’s pointing toward the relationship that God wants. Israel didn’t just rebel against a set of commands. Israel’s rebellion was the rejection of a relationship that God had with them. They didn’t want God. God wants to be wanted, and God searches within us, to our very core, to find the desire of relationship echoed within us.
IV. “Rest” is defined as the fulfilment of God’s promise (namely, salvation)
When the author writes about “rest” I believe he’s pointing toward the fulfillment of God’s promise. God was fulfilling the promise made to Abraham by releasing the Jews from slavery and leading them to the land that God showed Abraham. That land could have been theirs, so the “rest” would have been a rest from waiting, travelling, hoping, expecting, and every other action taken, thought thunk, and emotion felt leading up to the fulfillment of the promise. God’s rest is God’s fulfillment of His promise.
V. God’s promises are conditional
The condition of God’s promises rests on the response of my heart. If my heart is rebellious (rejecting the relationship) I will not receive God’s promise of rest (in my case, that’s salvation).
VI. We are warned as a community of Believers
The author gives us a warning. Actually, he gives the church, a local community of believers, a warning.
VII. An unhealthy community can lead to personal rejection
We are warned to make sure the brothers and sisters around us don’t have a heart that is rejecting the relationship with God. We are given the challenge to keep each other connected to God. And, we are made acutely aware that we are connecting relationally with a God who is alive and is present in the relationship every moment. So, we are told to take the initiative, action item, and moment by moment goal to encourage each other to pursue God every chance we get. Because it was the entire community that suffered from rebellious hearts, we are challenged to keep the community healthy by investing in the spiritual health of the people around us.
VII. Rebellion is contagious
It’s a really big deal to ignore the spiritual health of our fellow Christians. Their unbelief and rebellion effects us and will lead us away from God if left unchecked.
VIII. To sum it all up…
To summarize the author’s exposition of the Psalm we are reminded that it was the very people who saw the miracles and were the recipients of the promise being fulfilled that were denied rest (a.k.a. salvation). It will not be different with me. I absolutely need to check my own heart, and the hearts of the people around me, to ensure personal engagement with God. If I’m not intentional about both, I risk salvation.
Here’s How To Avoid Disconnecting
Here are three things that I (and you) can do to minimize the risk.
1) Assess my own heart. If I leave any kind of intentions about withdrawing from the relationship unchecked then I am at risk of not being included in eternity.
2) Assess my fellow Believers’ hearts. If I allow the people around me to keep their intentions about withdrawing from personal engagement with God then I’m at risk of being pulled out of my fellowship along with them.
3) Pursue personal engagement with Jesus. God is angered when He is personally rejected, and He restricts benefits (like eternity). To avoid unwanted rejection and anger, I absolutely need to pursue the relationship.
What about you?
Are you keeping things personal with Jesus? And, are you consistently staying personal? Or are you slipping into treating Christianity as though it was a religion, or an impersonal system?
Did you see something different in the text?
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