Tuesday, 11 September 2018
Therefore I was angry with that generation,
And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,
And they have not known My ways.’ Hebrews 3:10
These words continue with the quote from Psalm 95, specifically verse 10 –
“For forty years I was grieved with that generation,
And said, ‘It is a people who go astray in their hearts,
And they do not know My ways.’”
In this verse, he begins with, “Therefore.” That is not a part of the psalm, but it is inserted by the author of Hebrews to show the logical outcome of what transpired. That outcome is based on the content of verses 3:8, 9 which speak of the hardening of the hearts of Israel, and of their provoking and trying the Lord. In response to that, the outcome is stated beginning with, “I was angry with that generation.”
The word translated as “angry” is found only here and in verse 3:17 of this chapter. It signifies feeling indignant at something. The Lord had displayed His greatness among Israel, and they had constantly rebelled against Him. Thus, He was truly irked at them. Based on this, the Lord then says, “They always go astray in their heart.”
Several of the wonders performed by the Lord were noted in the review of verse 3:9. That was but a few of them. Further, the cloud and the pillar were always present with the people. As it says at the close of Exodus –
“Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”
Despite the wonders, despite the continuous and visible presence of the Lord, and despite His corrective measures, Israel never stopped going astray in their hearts. It is the theme of their lives, being a contrary and stiff-necked people. The Lord could have eradicated them, He could have sent them back to the bondage of Egypt, or He could have multiplied their punishment of forty years of wandering if he wished. But forty years was sufficient to show that they would not change even if the time was doubled or tripled. They had proven themselves unable to be corrected. And this was because, as the Lord says, “And they have not known My ways.”
To know means both to understand and to acknowledge. The Lord had given His commandments, His statutes, and His ordinances. They were given to instruct and guide the people. And yet, they neither grasped the importance of them, nor did they acknowledge their usefulness in either daily life, or in a proper relationship with the Lord. In the end, the reason for this comes down to a single word, faith. The people failed to trust the Lord and have faith in His decisions. The miracles worked among them were unable to correct the hardened state of their hearts, and the Lord thus made a determination concerning them. That is the subject of the next verse in Hebrews. It is a subject which will then be discussed in great detail by the author as he continues.
Life application: We don’t have the miraculous outward displays of the Lord before our eyes as Israel did, but we do possess two things which should stand as sufficient evidence of the Lord’s presence among us. The first is His word. It testifies to us of Him, and it should be sufficient to convince us of His presence in an ongoing way in the world today. The second is the ability of the word to change the lives of those who accept it for what it is. So many have been changed by the word, so continuously and for so many centuries, that it confirms the power of the word. We ignore this at our own peril. Be sure to believe the gospel message which contains such transformative power and be sure to apply the precepts of the Bible to your lives each day.
Lord God, there is power in the gospel message to change lives – both of individuals, and of groups of people. It has been preached for 2000 years, and those who have received it have had changed lives. In Your word, and in what it brings about in others, we have all the surety we need to accept it for what it is, by faith. Thank You that we have such a sure and precious word. Amen.