Jul 23, 2010

Hebrews 3:7-19 - Robert Hawker

Hebrews 3:7-19 
(7) Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice,  (8)  Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:  (9)  When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.  (10)  Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.  (11)  So I swore in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)  (12)  Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.  (13)  But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  (14)  For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;  (15)  While it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.  (16)  For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.  (17)  But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it  not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? (18)  And to whom swore he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?  (19)  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

I pause the more frequent over those verses, where God the Holy Ghost is spoken of, in any of his more express personal acts, in order to direct the Reader's attention to the subject. Among the latter-day heresies, the denial of his Person and Godhead, is specially marked. And the Reader will do well to consider, how very often the Lord hath ascribed to himself personal exercises; such as speaking and commanding, and the like, as if to guard the Church against this deadly sin. Surely the thing itself, being so plain, as all the ministry of the Holy Ghost must imply; it need not have been said as here; Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith; unless it had been intended in a more palpable way, and manner, to keep the minds of the faithful always alive, in their attention, both to his Person, and Godhead. See Hebrews 9:8 and Commentary.

Concerning what is here said, by God the Holy Ghost, in charging the people, to be on the watch, lest an evil heart of unbelief should creep in among them; (and he holds up before them the history of those whose carcasses fell in the wilderness, by way of remark, I shall beg to offer a few brief observations.

And, first. Let the Reader take notice, to whom these words are spoken, namely, to the brethren. Not to the carnal and unregenerate; but to those of whom it is said, verse 14, for we are made partakers of Christ; or, as it might have been rendered, for we have been made partakers of Christ; for it refers to an act past: and an act made on God's part; not on ours: having been so made, before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 1:4-5. Let the Reader make this his first observation on the passage. It is to the Church, the brethren, to whom the Holy Ghost speaks.

Secondly. They are admonished to take heed against an hardness of heart, and an evil heart of unbelief. Now this is not the original stony heart, which the Church, as well as the whole Adam-race, has by nature. For the Lord promised to take this away, and in regeneration it is actually taken away, Ezekiel 36:26 with John 3:3-8. But it is that hardness of heart, which even the Lord’s people, in the unrenewed part of their nature, their body of sin which they carry about with them, are too apt to imbibe, from mingling with carnal company, and an absence from ordinances, neglect in reading the word of God: and a shyness, or little frequency at the mercy seat. These things bring on coldness, and distance, between Christ and the soul: and like the Church, a sleepy, slothful frame is felt, Song of Solomon 5:2 and Commentary.

Thirdly. The Lord plainly shews in what follows, by calling upon the Church to exhort one another, that it is the Church, and not the carnal which is here admonished; and by the remedy proposed by exhortation, it is as plain, that absence from the Lord, and his courts, and inattention to the several means of grace, were referred to, as the causes of inducing this hardness, and insensibility of heart and unbelief.

Fourthly. The carcasses of those which fell in the wilderness, plainly shew, that they differed wholly from the Lord’s people here admonished. They are so spoken of elsewhere, as those with whom God was not well pleased, 1 Corinthians 10:5. And who were they? Not the Lord’s people in Christ, who from everlasting are chosen in him; predestinated to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself; and accepted in the beloved, Ephesians 1:4-6. Who are they then, I answer, the children of Israel, after the flesh: or perhaps also partly that mixed multitude, which went up out of Egypt with Moses. See Exodus 12:37-38 and Numbers 14:26-37. Those men, while the miracles of the Lord’s servant in Egypt, were warm in their remembrance, followed Israel, but they knew not the Lord; neither followed the Lord. Hence the expressions: For some, howbeit not all. See Reader! distinguishing grace! And do not forget, what God the Spirit hath also said on the same subject. For they are not all Israel which are of Israel. Neither because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children, but in Isaac shall thy seed be called, Romans 9:6-7. The nation of Israel, as a nation, like any other nation where there is a professing Church, as a professing Church, did all enjoy the outward privileges. They had all the Manna, and all drank of the Rock; the Cloud to screen by day, and the pillar of fire by night. But these were only common things to them, like Ordinances. Unbelief then, and un-regeneration now, produce the same effect. The five words of Christ, Ye must be born again: John 3:7, becomes the sole qualification to an entrance into Christ’s kingdom.

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