This is the second warning of five (see 2:1 for first- drifting because of neglect of God's Word) to these Jewish believers to exhort them to remain faithful to the end so they may experience the "rest" of salvation (Matt. 11:28) and the "rest" of submission (Matt. 11:29-30) as they trust and obey God. (Also see 4:1-11.) True believers do not lose their salvation for disobedience but they do suffer temporal and eternal loss as seen by the OT believers who died in the wilderness because of unbelief and rebellion. (See Romans 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:1-6) {"It is significant that just as Israel spent forty years in the wilderness, so the Spirit of God dealt with the nation of Israel for approximately forty years after the death of Christ. The nation hardened its heart against the message of Christ. In a.d. 70, Jerusalem was destroyed and the people were scattered among the Gentile nations." [1]MacDonald, William ; Farstad, Arthur: Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995}

"So, as the Holy Spirit says:   "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts  as you did in the rebellion,  during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did.  That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.' So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.' "See to it (or take care), brothers, that none of you has a sinful (or evil), unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God."

PRESUMPTUOUS SIN –  Presumptuous – "to act presumptuously; take liberties … to take for granted; too bold or forward; taking too much for granted." This described the Jewish nation after God's supernatural deliverance from 400 years of bondage in Egypt and His supernatural provision of food and water in the desert-  an estimated 1500 tons of food (manna) and 11 million gallons of water (from a rock at one point) every day. Yet after seeing the mighty power of God in the ten plagues, the Red Sea parting and the supernatural provision, they doubted God and grumbled and complained time after time. Then they tested God for the last time when they refused to take the Promised Land and said: "We can't attack those people; they are stronger than we are." That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.  All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, "If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn't it be better for us to go back to Egypt?"  And they said to each other, "We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt." (Numbers 13:31-33 and 14:1-4; see Numbers 13-14 for this event). This is analogous for us as believers today who have been delivered from the slavery of sin and eternal damnation by the sacrificial love of God in the flesh and His mighty resurrection from the grave to give us eternal bliss, to complain and doubt God and refuse to trust and obey His Word.

The Lord warns us that we are no different from our "fathers" (v.9 – or other believers) who were saved but sinned and rebelled against God and thus we should be careful ("take care" v. 12 NASB) or we can fall into sin. "I would never do what he did." "Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he fall [into sin]." (1 Cor. 10:12 Amp.)

GOD'S PROVISION FOR PRESUMPTUOUS SIN – HIS WORD, HIS INDWELLING SPIRIT AND HIS PEOPLE How can we know when we are being careless? When we refuse to let God correct us by His Word and Spirit. "So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts." God is always speaking to us through His Word and other ways. "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim. 3:16-17) But we, like believers before us, can become un-teachable and simply refuse to let God rebuke us or correct us. When this happens, we become our own god, judge and jury.  "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46) Continual disobedience to God's Word hardens our hearts. God also speaks to us through people which we will look at later.  

THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN AND GOD'S PROVISION TO AVOID IT –   "But encourage (or exhort) one another daily (each day), as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ (or we are partakers of Christ) if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first." Pastor Joe Novenson says that as fellow believers our encouragement to others (and from others) is needed 1) urgently, 2) consistently, 3) responsibly, and 4) with reality.

1) Urgently – "But encourage one another daily (each day), as long as it is called Today." The idea here is that life is very brief and we only have the opportunity to encourage each other in the faith "Today"- meaning, do it today or we may miss the opportunity.  "Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." (Eph. 5:15-16) "If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run." (If – by Kipling) Certainly sharing God's Word with others is a powerful way to encourage others in the faith. (Eph. 5:19)

2) Consistently – "Encourage one another daily (each day)."  This could be a daily prayer, Lord who do you want me to encourage today? "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another." (Rom. 13:8)

3) Responsibly – The word ‘encourage' or ‘exhort' comes from the Greek word paraclete and means to be called to come near or to come along beside someone. God calls us to encourage one another so it is our responsibility to Him to come along beside others and encourage them.

4) With reality – There is a negative and positive side to encouraging others. The negative is to realize the deceitfulness of sin and how our friend (or I) can be so easily deceived by sin.  {"Sin often looks beautiful in anticipation. Here (in Hebrews) it offers escape from the reproach of Christ, lower standards of holiness, rituals that appeal to the aesthetic senses, and the promise of earthly gain. But it is hideous in retrospect. " [1]MacDonald, William ; Farstad, Arthur: Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995} Sin is deceitful and often we cannot see our own sin and need other eyes to see it. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." (Prov. 27:6) Recall those people who have spoken a correcting word to you in the past for which you are now so thankful. But the positive side of reality is that our believing friends and ourselves are "partakers of Christ" and though we are weak He is strong and was victorious in every temptation (Heb. 2:18; 4:14-16) and as we hold on to Him He can deliver us from the deceitfulness of sin.


1) Continual disobedience to God's Word hardens our hearts. In John 6 many disciples turned back (like those in the wilderness) and followed Jesus no longer but the twelve remained faithful (except Judas). Read John 6:68-69 and discuss why they remained faithful.  How do your respond to the "hard sayings" (John 6:60) in God's Word (e.g., Luke 6:26-37)?

2) What are some ways you feel like you have hardened your heart in the past toward God and others and ultimately why have you?

3) Share a time when a friend or someone spoke a correcting word to you and how it helped you "see" your sin and repent?

4) Where do you need encouragement in your Christian walk?  How can you encourage others? What strikes you about each of the four aspects of encouragement that we and our friends need:





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