In Hebrews 3:12-19, the author reminds us to urge one another continually and ourselves to stay to close to God and check our hearts to make sure they are not evil. We need to be careful that sin is not entering our lives and controlling us so that we are separated from God. Not only that we need to do this now. The author makes an effort to put emphasis on “today”. This is for the audience to see that today means right now and the present.
12Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
Later in Hebrews the author again will tell the audience that we need to continue to meet even though our circumstances may be dissuading us from gathering.
24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
There are three situations which we will look at in which believers are tempted to stop meeting one another.
1. Persecuted Church – a letter exchange between Governor Pliny the Younger and Emperor Trajan give modern readers a glimpse of the persecution around 111 AD. Christians could be interrogated, tortured, and even executed for their beliefs; however, Christians could be pardoned if they worshiped the Roman state sponsored gods. Like our time today, you can be a Christian and avoid persecution, so long as you worship the gods of today.
2. Troubled times – Personal hardships may put believers in a state of mind when they start to doubt that God is with them. Church splits, congregational in fighting, pastoral scandals, and leadership failures may also push members away or discourage them from meeting. Finally, the acts of God like the current pandemic or natural disasters can prevent congregations from meeting.
3. Apathy – Perhaps the most disturbing and devastating attack on Christians is apathy towards their own spiritual state or the needs of others, especially brothers and sisters in Christ.
The author goes into the importance of listening for God’s and responding in obedience to God and summarizes Psalm 95:7-11.
As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”
The rebellion that Psalm 95 is referring to is the same place of rebellion in Exodus 17:7
7For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.
Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
The author points out that willful disobedience to God and unbelief will prevent you from entering heaven similar to what happened to the Israelites lead out of Egypt, but who never entered and lived in the promised land because of their hardened hearts.
18And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19So we see that were unable to enter because of unbelief.
The author makes his point that we as believers need to keep meeting, keep getting right with God as well as encouraging other believers to keep doing these actions as well. The consequences of not doing this will result in us not being with Jesus now and in the future. We have gone this far with our walk with Christ. Let us keep walking with Christ today.