11 October 2017

Hebrews 3:7-14

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (verse 7)

Psalm: Psalm 101


Although today's passage starts at verse 7 you might like to read from the start of chapter 3. You'll see that Jesus, once again named as high priest, is being compared with Moses. The faithful character of Moses, and his place in God's plan, is clearly acknowledged (Hebrews 3:2), but because Jesus is God's Son his place is so much more significant. Note also how the image of God's house is used (Hebrews 3:3-6). At first, we might be tempted to think towards a building of some sort (possibly a temple?), but by verse 6 it's clear that the house is formed by the community of people rather than any physical structure.

Of course, Moses is also remembered as the one who led the children of Israel through the wilderness and, under God, faced up to their struggles and rebellion on the way. Thus we come to today's passage with its quotation from Psalm 95:7-11. You might note how the psalm is introduced by the words "as the Holy Spirit says". The words which follow are not just a description of times past and poetry written long ago. They are for today.

The psalm sings of God's frustration with the people's rebellion, even though they had experienced God's own saving hand through their rescue from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12), through the provision of Manna in the desert (Exodus 16) and through the gracious provision of the Commandments so that they could know God's ways and enter a right relationship with God (Exodus 20). Note how the quotation ends in verse 11 with the ominous warning that God would not be patient for ever.

In verse 12 we turn from warning back to encouragement. In yesterday's passage, we were introduced to the thought that Christ considers us to be family, brothers and sisters. This theme of our belonging together is developed further today as we're given the task keeping one another encouraged in the faith, and watching over each other.

To Ponder

  • How can you prevent hardness of heart from entering into your life, your family attitudes and the life of your congregation?
  • Psalm 95 (also known as the Venite, from the Latin translation of its first word) is said or sung as part of the tradition of morning prayer. However, some versions (including the one in the Methodist Worship Book) omit the verses about hardness of heart and God's anger. Are they right to do so? Why? What would you do?

Bible notes author

The Revd Donald Ker

Donald Ker is a supernumerary minister in the Methodist Church in Ireland. As well as serving as a circuit minister in Bray Co Wicklow and as Superintendent Minister at Belfast Central Mission, he has been General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Ireland and its President in 2009/2010.