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The Danger of a Hard Heart The Danger of a Hard Heart

The Danger of a Hard Heart


Many Old Testament passages provide a correspondence between ancient Israelite figures and events and Christian realities and experiences. In today’s reading, the Israelite experience in the Exodus and Wilderness is depicted as a significant type for the Christian journey itself.

Just as Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, so One greater than Moses leads the Christian community out of spiritual slavery. Using Psalm 95 as the guiding passage (including the fuller description in Numbers 14 through 25), the author highlights the Israelite response of disobedience and hard-heartedness. They fell into “rebellion” (v. 8); they “tested and tried me” (v. 9); and “their hearts are always going astray” (v. 10). Despite their promising start with faithful Moses, the Israelites did not remain faithful themselves. As a result, God declared: “They shall never enter my rest” (vv. 11, 18).

The point of reviewing these events, of course, is the application to the Christian community and the exhortation not to follow that pattern: “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God” (v. 12). Scripture urges the Christian community to encourage each other toward faithfulness, “so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (v. 13). Twice, the author of Hebrews applies the words of Psalm 95 as an admonition to the Christian community: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (vv. 7–8, 15).

The key to such faithfulness, lies in verse 14: “We have come to share in Christ.” If we are to remain faithful to God’s voice, and enter His promised rest, we must remember the One to whom we belong and cling to Him.

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BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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