Verse 12 "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God."
1. This warning is given to all who hear the gospel and profess to believe it, to all who profess to be God’s people. We must not follow the example of those who perished in the wilderness and miss Christ, who is our Rest and in whom alone rest is found. Unbelief was the first sin of man and is the mother sin. Unbelief is a willful denial of the Word of God, a declaration that God himself is a liar, one not fit to be believed (1 John 5:10-13). Unbelief shuts people out of the kingdom of God (Mark 16:16).
Verse 3:13 "But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."
Believers should constantly endeavor to encourage one another in the faith, exhort one another to perseverance, instruct one another in the gospel. Perhaps you ask, “How can we do this?” We encourage, exhort, and teach one another in the house of God, worshipping, praying, and praising God together (Heb. 10:24, 25). As we study the Scriptures, in private and sitting under the ministry of the Word, we learn the things of God and have that with which to assist others in knowing God (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Tim. 3:14--17). In our daily conversation with one another, we ought to talk together about heavenly things and less about foolish, earthly things. When we see signs of indifference and worldliness, we ought to warn one another about the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches.
Now, look at verses 14-19. Here we are given an exhortation to perseverance.
If we would enter into heaven, if we would obtain eternal life, if we would at last enter into his rest, we must persevere in faith, we must go on trusting Christ to the end (vv. 14-19).
Verse 14 -- "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.”
We participate in the blessings and benefits of Christ only by a genuine, persevering faith. True faith never quits. Those who endure to the end shall be saved, no one else (Matt. 10:20). True faith is not a temporary excitement; but a permanent gift of grace (Rom. 11:29). We are given many, many examples of false faith in the New Testament (John 2:23-25; 6:26; Acts 8:13, 18-21). Let us be warned. True faith is a genuine, God given, growing confidence in and consecration to the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 1:21-23; Heb. 10:38-39).
Verse 15 - 18 – “While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 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?”
In verse 15 the Holy Spirit repeats the warning given in verses 7-8, urging us not to harden our hearts. He makes this repetition because we need it. Not all those Jews who followed Moses out of Egypt perished in the wilderness, but most did. And most who take up a profession of faith in this age, and make a fair show in religious things for a while, soon fall by the wayside and perish.
Though they had many evidences of God's goodness and much light and truth, they did not believe God. Let us take heed that we be not numbered among them. Let us be found clinging to Christ, ever clinging to Christ, lest our carcasses be found at last in this wilderness, lest we miss him at last.
Verse 3:19 -- "So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
This is the summary of the whole matter. Those who perished in the wilderness were not able to enter into the land of rest because of unbelief. They were not willing to believe God, to trust God, to rely on God. Unbelief shut them out (Rom. 4:20-25; Heb. 2:1-3). Let us hear the warning here given, and tenaciously cling to Christ.
“Prone to wonder, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love!
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above!"