If God says something once, I would hope you would listen. If He says something twice, I would expect you to really listen. If He says something three times, I would hope you drop everything and really, really listen.
What if He says something four times? In Hebrews chapter 3, verses 8, 13, 14, and chapter 4, verse 7, the Lord keeps repeating a warning. And He is repeating something He said way back in Psalm 95. OK, now I am starting to lose count, but this must be pretty important if He keeps warning us over and over. And what is the command / warning?
Do not harden your heart.
Hebrews was written to Jews, some who believed in Jesus and some who didn’t. Knowing about Jesus does not equalknowing Jesus.
And there is a real danger in seeing Bible facts in front of you, and not doing something with them. Specifically, seeing who Jesus Christ is, and not receiving Him!
So if God warns us, “Do not harden your heart” - then what does that mean? How does someone harden their heart?
Hebrews 3:9-10 gives us the example: Israel. Don’t do what they did!
You remember the story, right? Israel was in Egypt for 400 years, 200 of them as slaves. God delivered them through Moses, and you might have expected a joyful trip to the Promised Land. Read Exodus through Deuteronomy. Not very joyful, that group. Saw God at work, but were never happy.
This is as serious as it gets, so let’s let God’s Word get specific with the warning so we don’t fall into the same trap! How did the Israelites harden their hearts? And how could we? Let's go through the text together.
1 - You harden your heart when you test God (Hebrews 3:8-9)
We can read the OT and ask, “What were they thinking?” But you know we all have a tendency to repeat the previous generation’s sins. And the Israelites first charge was testing God.
What does it mean to test God? It simply means demanding, as a test, to see if He can provide. Check out Exodus 17:7 - as soon as God provides something, they started complaining again.
Heart check time - are you a complainer? Nothing is ever enough, or good enough, or cheap enough, or expensive enough, or easy enough, or hard enough… You aren’t satisfied with what God has provided and start to insist upon more, different, or better, and it is up to God to prove Himself to you by giving you what you want. That is testing God.
Complaining turns oh so quickly to testing… Almost as if your belief, your commitment, and your love are all contingent upon God first passing your initiation test by handing over your demands.
“Well, if there is a God, He would have…”
“If God really exists, He would not…”
“I’m going to start going to church if God will just take care of this thing…”
“I would be more serious about God if He would…”
A heart already bent on this type of demanding, already warped into a misunderstanding on which one of us is God and which one isn’t, can’t be heading anywhere good. And when the heart is aligned already towards discontentment, however God would choose to act would still be met with discontentment. It’s not a “can’t win” for God - it’s a “won’t win” for you!
Choose to test God, choose to harden your heart. Choose to harden your heart, choose to forfeit the blessings God wants to pour into your life.
p.s. - owed nothing, given everything