The writer of Hebrews uses the example of the Exodus generation (the people God freed from slavery in Egypt and led into the wilderness) as a warning to us against having an “evil heart of unbelief.” This generation had seen the power of God on display. God rescued them from slavery and was leading them to a new land. And yet, these people repeatedly grumbled against the Lord. This all came to a sad conclusion for this generation. They refused to go into the Promised Land out of fear of the people living there. This act of rebellion and unbelief provoked God’s wrath, and He swore that this generation would not enter the Promised Land.
This generation seemed to have some type of faith. After all, they believed enough to put blood on their doorways and save their first-born sons. They trusted God enough to walk across the bed of the Red Sea between two towering walls of water. But, the overwhelming pattern of their complaint, mistrust and rebellion exposed a heart of unbelief.
Not because they doubted at times. Not because they sometimes slipped into sin.
No, it started from the time they left Egypt, and it happened again, and again, and again… for years. God said, “For they always go astray in their heart.” They took the provision of the Lord for granted, longing for the food they ate as slaves over the manna they ate in freedom. They resented the leadership God placed them under. They grumbled; they complained; they rebelled. And every time their hearts grew harder, and harder until their hearts were so calloused that they stood overlooking the Promised Land- the land they had wearied their feet and bodies to reach- and willingly, decisively said, “NO. I will NOT go in.”
This is the evil heart of unbelief: A recurring pattern of rejection, mistrust, rebellion, complaint, resentment that climaxes in looking at Jesus, knowing all that God has to offer and then making a decisive, final rejection – renouncing Him and saying, “NO. I don’t want this.” and then walking away.
Therefore, the writer of Hebrews warns us, “TODAY if you hear His voice do not harden your heart as in the rebellion.” Do not start down that path. Do not callous your heart to the voice of the Lord. Believe God. Believe Jesus. Obey his voice. Trust His promises. Reflect on who He is and what He has done (both throughout history and in your life personally). Remember His salvation with awe and thankfulness. Walk in humility with Jesus. Consider His faithfulness and know it is by God’s grace we remain faithful. Then, the overwhelming pattern of your life will be belief. The way you respond to difficult times will expose a heart of belief. The way you fight against temptation will say, “Belief.” Even how you respond to falling into sin- grieved, repentant and then resolved to walk ahead and keep fighting- will say, “Belief!”
So, consider Jesus. Remember His faithfulness. Take care. Guard against an evil heart of unbelief. Exhort one another. Protect one another from being hardened by deceitfulness of sin. Sin is deceptive. At times, the vegetables of Egypt will sound more desirable than manna, but do not allow one another to be led astray. Draw each other back to the reality that what we have is superior to anything the world has to offer, because “we have come to share in Christ.” And Christ is better than all things. And we know we have come to share in Christ, if we hold fast and stand firm, to the end.