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Hebrews 3:19  (King James Version)
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<< Hebrews 3:18   Hebrews 4:1 >>


Hebrews 3:19

Paul puts his finger on the source of the Israelites' problem, why their heart could not be changed, why they consistently and persistently sinned and rebelled: "So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief." Paul later turns this thought into an admonition for us:

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. (Hebrews 4:1-2)

Not only did Israel have the witness of numerous demonstrations of God's presence and power among them to provide a foundation for faith, but they were also given the Word of God by His servants Moses and Aaron. In addition, they had living examples of faith in Moses, Aaron (most of the time), Joshua, Caleb, and others. God supplied these men with gifts by His Spirit as a testimony that should have provided more incentive for the Israelites to believe Him. But Hebrews 3:17 says He was angry with them forty years! If ever a people almost drove God to the point of exasperation, it was Israel in the wilderness.

We must not allow such a powerful lesson to pass by unheeded. Paul agrees, "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4).

The lesson is clear. Those who believe God reveal their faith by obeying Him. Those who do not believe, disobey. Hebrews 3:12 warns, "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God." Unbelief is evidence of an evil heart, and an evil heart departs from God. Like Hebrews 3:16—4:2, this verse equates unbelief with disobedience.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Wandering the Wilderness in Faith

Related Topics: Disobedience | Evil Heart | Faith | Unbelief



Hebrews 3:17-19

The Israelites in the wilderness could not live by faith, despite having strong visual evidence of God's nearness to them daily. For example, He killed the firstborn of Egypt; He divided the sea; He provided water from a rock when necessary. Every day for forty years, He witnessed to His presence by providing manna and the cloud over the Tabernacle! On occasion, because of their unbelief, He triggered an earthquake or caused poisonous snakes to invade the camp, sending many to their deaths. He did much more, but these examples make the point: Those who lived by sight fell by the wayside.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Living by Faith and God's Justice



Hebrews 3:16-19

The apostle Paul equates faith and obedience, or conversely, unbelief and disobedience. Unbelief and disobedience are directly linked. Unless faith motivates a person to obedience, it is not faith but merely an esoteric opinion. James corroborates exactly what the apostle Paul says: "Show me your faith without your works, and I will you show you my faith by my works. Faith without works is dead" (see James 2:17-18). It does not even exist.

What was Lot's wife's sin? She did not believe. It is that simple. She died for her lack of faith, which was revealed in her direct rebellion against the messengers of God. She looked back. The root cause of her rebellion, of her worldliness, was her unbelief. Due to her unbelief, she was not prepared to leave Sodom and did not really obey the command to leave.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 4)




Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Hebrews 3:19:

1 Corinthians 10:6-11
Revelation 21:8

 

<< Hebrews 3:18   Hebrews 4:1 >>



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